The most successful companies we know are diligent about monitoring customer complaints, but even they could do more. In a recent survey of 259 companies, 69% with revenues of $40 million or less, respondents said they use fairly standard methods of getting customer feedback, such as 800 lines, rather than more proactive methods such as customer visits or surveys.

Percentage of respondents who always use each approach to get customer feedback
Monitoring complaints 69%

Toll-free customer-service line 44

Warranty system 44

Visiting customers to ask 17

Call customers to ask 16

Written customer survey 10

Source: Ernst & Young survey of the Institute of American Entrepreneurs, Dallas, May 1992.