The Importance of listening to the 'Quiet' Customer

Quiet Customers

Do you find that you often focus on the happy or angry customers but not the quiet customers? Are you assuming the silent ones are delighted since they are not complaining? Think again.

I will never forget the wisdom imparted to me by a quite experienced sales manager within a few weeks of my first job.  “I love dealing with two types of customers, the happy and the mad.  I hate dealing with the quiet ones.”

He explained that the mad customer would quickly tell you what is bothering them if you let them.  The happy customer would also let you know what they really liked.  The quiet customer may sometimes have an issue, but you might never hear about it until they started using another brand.  

In the surveying world, happy and mad customers respond but, too often, others do not feel strongly enough to respond to a survey even though they didn’t have a great experience.  They just delete the email or do not take the call. 

From our research, we see this play out.  We ask the Net Promoter question in our surveys.  We also probe for reasons behind the score on the likelihood to recommend question.  One of the response options is “No Reason.”  Our data shows that:

  • Detractors answer "No Reason" 5.9% of the time
  • Promoters answer "No Reason" 0% of the time
  • Passives answer "No reason" 27% of the time

These Passives are the quiet customers.  The experience was not great but not awful just not memorable. 

What are these customers NOT telling us? 

Our research shows us that most of the time that their ambivalence has less to do with the objective experience  and more with the emotional aspects of the experience.  Their "No Reason" isn't about the logistics of the experience.  Their "No Reason" is about how they were treated personally.

These “quiet” customers are not telling you something you need to know.  Sometimes, they may not be able to pinpoint what it is.  Often something just didn't 'feel right.' When you have one of these types of customers, I suspect they have something to say, but they may not know how to say it. 

In these situations, engaging these quiet customers is the only way to find out what made them uncomfortable at your dealership or location. From these customers, you will learn about their experience with a focus on professionalism and attitudes that you wouldn't hear otherwise.

 

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