Talking to detractors and the five whys

When calling detractor clients keep in mind that their survey feedback may not tell the complete story. To get to the heart of the issue remember to ask plenty of open-ended questions and spend most of your time listening.

You are trying to identify all the ways in which you can improve your service to this client and, also, what is most important to them. You need to be consider what are the most cost effective opportunities to move this client from a detractor to a promoter? 

Consider using the five whys technique - a tool for getting to the root of a problem, which is useful in developing service improvement initiatives. The tool developed by Sakichi Toyodo and popularised by Toyota in the 1970s, suggests that asking 'why' at least five times helps get to the heart of a problem where a suitable remedy or counter-measure can be developed to prevent the problem arising again.

Take the example of client feedback expressing unhappiness over staff turnover. After exploring the issue, the core problem may move from, the client was attached to the old staff member and doesn't like change, to, they were unhappy there was a lack of communication, to, the new staff member is simply an unknown entity. The solution may then be - not to avoid staff turnover at all costs, or simply to better communicate staff changes - but to focus on providing richer information on the background and experience of the new staff member and looking for more opportunities for client interaction early on.

For more information on the 5 whys technique see this 5 whys link.

Greg Tilse