Simon says: listen to your customers
Tell Simon is a new Internet-based customer feedback channel that can tell businesses exactly how they’re performing on customer service. Glenn Baker talks to its creators.
Both brains behind Tell Simon have spent their careers helping businesses improve what they do for customers. NZBusiness readers will be familiar with Dr Ian Brooks regular ‘Customer Excellence’ columns. He regularly speaks on the subject of customer care and has written a number of books.
Paul Linnell is managing director of CTMA New Zealand, an organisation that specialises in customer experience measurement tools, methodologies and feedback systems.
It would be fair to say that both have been frustrated over the years by the often cavalier attitude to customer service shown by many of this country’s businesses and service organisations. Despite their best attempts to educate the market – the message is still missed by many CEOs and business owners, who fail to recognise the bottom-line implications of not dealing properly with poor customer service.
But now they’ve created a new weapon of mass communication between customers and businesses and have high expectations of its impact on customer service in New Zealand. Just as ‘Googling’ has become the catch-phrase for anyone seeking information about any subject; their goal is for ‘Tell Simon’ to become the standard phrase for anyone wanting to report a customer experience – either good or bad – with any New Zealand business.
In a nutshell, Tell Simon is a turn-key online customer feedback channel that makes it easy for customers to tell a business when something’s gone wrong, or when the business has done something well – as well as pass-on suggestions and ideas or to simply ask a question.
“Most companies think their customers will call or use their website to pass-on information – but the fact is they don’t,” explains Brooks. “You’ve got to make the process easy – and that’s the aim of Tell Simon.
“Our message is: Tell Simon makes it easy for you, the customer, to talk to the people you do business with; and if you’re a company, it makes it easy for you to listen to your customers.”
Because the service is free to consumers and free to companies after paying the setup fee of $100, there is absolutely no impediment for small businesses becoming involved, say the two co-founders.
Since 100 percent of your profits come from your customers, a simple fact that often gets forgotten – their loyalty can add up to a lifetime of value for your business. Basically, your customers can tell you everything you need to succeed. But Tell Simon is more than just a free confidential conduit for customers and businesses to communicate about issues.
“For a monthly fee, Tell Simon can monitor the responses companies give customers from a point of view of helping them improve their customer satisfaction levels,” says Linnell. “We can also provide companies with a rudimentary analysis of the sort of things they’ve been hearing from customers. It adds to their learning processes.”
“That analysis is really important,” adds Brooks. “I still find even big companies deal with customer issues one by one – they don’t ever sit down and think “gosh we’ve had 50 people complain about that – maybe there’s an issue we need to delve into here’.”
Tell Simon can provide significant insight into customer experience and often helps to identify what’s working for customers and what’s not, says Brooks. Activity reports can even provide a breakdown of customer feedback by contact type, product or service group and (when used) branch or region.
It’s true that social media sites have become the modern day electronic channel to quickly spread experience feedback on companies – most of it negative and potentially damaging. But this is not what Tell Simon is about.
“Big companies are spending a lot of money trying to mine into social media to try and catch those service ‘balls’ that have been dropped at the front line. But really they shouldn’t be dropping these balls in the first place, and they shouldn’t have to wait for somebody else to chuck a ball up aimed at them. Companies should be using a service like Tell Simon to deal with the problems when they happen,” explains Linnell.
The question of course is, will consumers take to this new feedback channel? Will they take the time to Tell Simon? Brooks thinks they will. “Consider the time, effort and emotional cost of providing feedback through traditional channels, such as writing letters. And do you get any benefit from it? No.


 But when you Tell Simon, it takes very little time, so it reduces the cost, and there’s no hassle because you’re not dealing with somebody who’s going to start arguing back. Simon is just the messenger. He’ll accept what you say and pass it on to the right person.
“Then we hope word of mouth will get around: ‘Don’t tell your mates, Tell Simon’ and things will get sorted right away.”
Research conducted by CTMA New Zealand, shows that a lot of Kiwis do complain about bad customer experiences. “Normally about one in 20 people who’ve experienced a problem will complain to the company,” says Linnell. “If people don’t complain, it’s primarily because it’s too difficult. They don’t know where to complain, and don’t believe anything will be done about it if they do complain.
“From a Tell Simon perspective these are the things we’re trying to address. We’re trying to make it easy for people to give feedback and make it obvious that there’s just the one place to go for action to be taken. By following it up with the companies afterwards, Tell Simon is endeavouring to ensure that these problems, or suggestions or questions, are being dealt with by the companies.”
“What drives Paul and me, first and foremost with Tell Simon,” adds Brooks, “is the belief that it’s really important that businesses can hear from their customers.”
For business owners Tell Simon is simple in its operation: customers Tell Simon; ‘he’ forwards it to you; you respond to them. Reports of feedback activity and customer satisfaction can also be arranged. To apply to join the Tell Simon business community go to Consumers can submit their feedback at either or


Publishing Information
Magazine Issue:
Related Articles
Compliance and robots big issues for business
A new survey gauging business sentiment has found the cost and complexity of compliance...
Getting to Know the CFO of Tomorrow
Getting to Know the CFO of Tomorrow
By: Mahadevan Natarajan, Sr Director APAC Enterprise Performance Management Business...
A life lesson in leadership
A life lesson in leadership
Leadership is a term we all bandy about without really knowing what it means, says Lisa...