Sometimes we become so involved in the design, execution and gathering of data that we may not observe what is really going on with our customers and center agents.

Here’s one thing I think we can all agree on. Surveys are everywhere. They are coming from your grocery store, your favorite restaurants, online shopping sites and even your dentist wants to know how that last appointment went. Everyone seems interested in what their customers think about that specific interaction you just had with them.

Naturally our customer surveys are emailed or customers are often invited to comment immediately after they’ve completed phone or chat interactions with our sales or service reps. The questions usually revolve around that last experience and the rep’s skills. Some add general questions related to “overall” satisfaction with the company itself and likely use a 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 scale. Some companies are also asking for suggestions using an open format, especially when the survey is online.

While the rep’s feedback on skills may be shared with them privately during their coaching sessions, what happens to the customer feedback regarding broken processes or product fails?

Our customers want to know what we are doing with all of the information they share with us, especially when nothing seems to happen to improve after they tell us their thoughts regarding issues encountered.

My own experiences as a customer probably mirror what others are experiencing when sharing comments and suggestions. At times during my phone or chat with an agent, I’ll make a suggestion about a process or share a product idea.

Invariably the agent will give me a robotic “Uh-huh” response and continue on with his or her “business as usual mode” needed to complete my customer request. The agent’s lack of interest in listening, acknowledging and letting me know that they will share my comments (even the useless ones!) tells me that either they don’t care or that they have not been trained to show interest in what I’m saying. These agents are simply focusing on process first, rather than showing appreciation for my sharing of ideas.

And it may not be their fault. Many companies do not even ask employees to share what their customers telling them, despite the corporate push for the highest level of customer experience.

When there is a great deal of emphasis on first call resolution, a rep may feel that they are not allowed to take the time to take note of customer’s suggestions and show interest. I’ve had reps share that with me during coaching sessions.

There may also be a lack of processes in place for this feedback from customers. The agent may not have a way to document what is being suggested. Data entry fields may support only the documentation needed for the specific order or service request.

We need to have a consistent and easy way for our reps to share what the customers are telling us instead of relying just on surveys.

Show your customers in a more personal way that you value their input by helping your agents to become a part of your survey process. Give your agents the training, the time and the tools to help your customers say what they really think.

And don’t forget to let your customers know that you listened and when you’ve used some of their great suggestions to improve products and service.