Listening to Your Customers and Acting on Failure

Having the courage to listen to your customers and admitting failure is one thing. However, the way you respond and act on that failure is even more important. Learn how you can understand where you are falling short and evolve for future success.

The way companies respond to ‘failure’ can mean the difference between a prosperous future and closing their doors. For all industries, from healthcare to software, to hardware and digital media, understanding and acting upon failure is the way success is achieved, quarter after quarter, year after year.

The process of acting on failure goes beyond simply admitting failure or reading a few complaint messages and offering some goodwill gestures. Neither of those actions alone will drive the outcomes all companies want – growth and more revenue. So how does ‘acting’ really differ? And what is ‘failure,’ anyway? Let’s take, for example, one of the giants of the video streaming business, Netflix. In 2011, Netflix made a big decision to split its DVD and steaming businesses and increase prices by 40%. As a result, they lost 800,000 subscribers and saw stock prices plummet to less than half their previous value. At the time, they seemingly ignored the voices that mattered most – their customers. The company soon thereafter became one of 10 most hated companies in America.

Netflix didn’t initially listen to their customers (who were jolted by the feeling that something was taken away or made more difficult to obtain), but in the months following the announcements about the price hike, they learned to listen and then act on their failure. In 2012, CEO Reed Hastings admitted, “I messed up.” The following year, the company added two million streaming subscribers, beating estimates. They delivered more value through more content and the stock began to climb.  The rest of the story you know.

So, what about your business? Are you listening to your customers? Are you acting on that failure? If not, you’re not alone. There are many complications companies face in collecting, analyzing, and acting on end user experience metrics.  In the world of complex customer ecosystems, messy data, and costly system integrations, finding the right solution to solve for your customer’s desired outcome again and again may seem daunting, let alone admitting you need help in making changes.

Listening to the customer and understanding their true needs can be done in numerous ways.  One approach ServiceSource uses is Customer Journey Mapping (CJM), which enables companies to deeply understand their end users’ behaviors and needs. A CJM is just that – a map that describes a journey. Ultimately, you need the vehicle to get to your next destination. For ServiceSource, that vehicle is our comprehensive Customer Success organization, built on nearly 20 years’ experience of helping companies find, convert, grow and retain more customers.

If you are interested in learning more about Customer Journey Mapping and how it can help you listen to and act on behalf of your customers, join our webinar, “5 Steps to Map Your Customer’s Journey”.


David Lopes, Sr. Director, Design & Customer Innovation