Your customers aren't holding back on how they feel about your brand. Even when they're not telling you their thoughts, they're giving you clues to their likes and dislikes. But it's up to you to play detective, interpret their feedback, and use the findings to promote change.

That's a tall order, of course. Yet it's not an impossible task. It's also essential because the customer experience you deliver may be your biggest differentiator. 

In 2018, a Wall Street Journal piece warned companies to pay attention to customer service--or pay the price. And the price can be hefty. PricewaterhouseCoopers research reveals about a third of consumers will leave a company after one bad interaction. In other words, you might not be able to afford a single slip-up.

So what's the best way to upgrade your customer support and engagement to impress every person who patronizes your brand? Put the following steps into action to close your biggest customer experience gaps.

1. Audit the quality of your customer service by more than one measure.

Many companies will measure their customer service efforts through feedback mechanisms like surveys or customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores. That's fine, but surveys and CSATs only give you a moment-in-time snapshot of how a customer feels. They don't provide you with the in-depth information you can use to make improvements.

This is where a mixture of offline and online methods like conducting traditional focus groups and investing in a quality assurance software program that manages scorecards can be useful.

Traditional in-person focus groups present you with the ability to drill down deeper into how customers view your brand. Plus, they enable you to clarify concerns or questions on the spot. What you discover can inform and validate the knowledge you've obtained from other auditing vehicles like quality assurance (QA) scorecards.

Be sure to film and transcribe any sessions you hold. Watching videos or sifting through transcriptions as a team could reveal hints about preferred customer verbiage. By echoing that same language in your support communications, you may be able to better connect with customers.

2. Conduct social listening to gauge word-on-the-street sentiment.

Unhappy customers like to complain. If statistics culled by SuperOffice are accurate, a wronged buyer will share the bad experience with 15 or more people. That's a lot of talking. If only you could be a fly on the wall to listen in and find out what happened, right? Well, you can. All it takes is some social listening.

Social media has become a huge part of everyone's world. Consequently, people love to take their rants online. This allows you to tap into their biggest beefs, but only if you're paying attention.

Don't worry: You don't have to spend a lot of time to get big returns. Setting up a full-blown social listening campaign using a software tool can make the process effortless. At the same time, you'll get deeper insights. 

For example, your social listening may reveal some hiccups you might never have considered. Financial institution Barclay leveraged the power of social listening after unveiling the company's latest app. Barclay's listening project revealed that people were disappointed because the app couldn't be used by minors with accounts. The outcome was that Barclay lowered the app usage age to 16 and kept customers happy.

3. Empower newly onboarded employees to recommend improvements.

Everyone's had the experience of being the newest kid on the block in an organization. It's a precarious position. Though you may spot inconsistencies or areas for improvement, you don't want to say anything. Why rock the boat, especially when you're trying to fit in?

Instead of expecting new workers to go with the flow, challenge them to find places that could use a little polish. Remember that they haven't been jaded by years of hearing the same things. Plus, they bring fresh eyes to your customer service processes, templates, and other solutions. In other words, they could be the key to upping your customer experience in bold, exciting ways.

Keep in mind that it can be tough for recent hires to feel confident in speaking up. Even if you told them during onboarding that they should identify pitfalls, they might be reluctant to start a conversation. Rather than waiting, ask newer employees for customer service ideas after their first month on the job. Let them talk about the challenges they see. Then, decide if changes are in order.

The quest to deliver better customer experiences is more of a journey than a destination. Nevertheless, you can get closer to your goals when you not only elicit but use the customer feedback at your fingertips.