A critical piece when it comes to managing your customer relationships effectively is your feedback process. Do you have a process in place for your customers to give you feedback? And if you do, are you responding to it?

Survey processes are numerous, from ones that rely on complex algorithms to make sense of the data and trends to more simple systems such as the widely used Net Promoter Score system (NPS).

I was assisting a significantly complex company, who sent out customer surveys utilising the NPS process. The NPS process was devised at Harvard Business School some 30+ years ago as an easy way for people to get to thousands of customers and find out what they’re thinking.

In practice, it’s simple: A company asks their customers to score their service out of 10. Based on the number the customers choose, they are classified in one of three categories — “Detractors” (people who score between 0-6) “Passives” (people who score between 7-8) and “Promoters” (people scoring 9-10).

To then calculate the NPS, the responses are tallied and broken down into Detractors, Passives and Promoters. The totals from each of these are then added up and the percentage determined by taking each group total and dividing it by the total number of respondents. Subtract the percentage of Detractors from Promoters and this is the NPS score.

This act of scoring something on a scale of one to 10 is actually very powerful because there’s no emotion in it. A score of 4 means you’re not doing very well. A score of 9 means you’re probably doing better than you were expecting. Scoring somewhere in the middle means you’re probably delivering where you should be.

In the case of this company, they had a very large customer base completing their surveys. They accumulated their net promoter scores and then benchmarked the scores across the organisation. This gave them a sense of being proactive at gaining the customer feedback and good scores were internally commended.

Unfortunately, they did not commit the time and resources to analyse more deeply what the scores were really telling them. This led to two scenarios. First, the scores were not accurate as organisational focus was on the score, not the remedy. Second, they committed the ultimate sin from a client’s perspective—they kept seeking feedback yet failed to act on the feedback from the customer’s perspective.

In the eyes of the customer, they had committed valuable time to answer the questions of their supplier, yet their supplier hadn’t done anything about the questions they answered the year before. Nothing angers a customer more than this! Asking for feedback is only of use if you act on it from the customer’s perspective.

Although the company had solid sales processes, it was evident their relationships were not linked to the feedback from the customer. This meant they couldn’t do anything meaningful to drive some of the very key things that would boost business growth. From the customer’s viewpoint, they just kept delivering the same way even when they had taken the time to feed back the faults in the current service.

Whether your customer relationships exist on the account management level or you’re selling to a wide population of customers, these relationships are vital to your business’ growth and profit. It’s essential that you take a closer look at how you manage your customer relationships and really understand them if you want to grow and be sustainable.