Editor's note: Peter Gurney is senior director, VOC solutions, at Seattle-based NetReflector Inc.

Once a slow and expensive process, collecting feedback from customers is now quick, simple and relatively cheap with the widespread availability of online survey tools and reporting systems. Companies can collect ratings and feedback at every point of contact, including phone calls, e-mails, Web visits and point-of-sale purchases. In addition, managers can view survey results instantly instead of waiting weeks or months to find out what their customers are saying.

This information is a valuable and necessary component of any voice of the customer (VOC) program. But if you’ve been collecting survey results for a while, you’ve probably run into a situation that many organizations face: flat trend lines. Once the easy wins are behind you, any upward movement in the overall ratings becomes increasingly difficult to achieve. This wouldn’t be a problem if you could confidently say that your organization had reached a state of customer experience perfection, but in most cases, employees and managers are painfully aware that there is still plenty of improvement to be made.

The problem with flat trend lines isn’t simply that they suggest a lack of progress. It’s also that they’re boring. It’s difficult to keep stakeholders interested and motivated when they see the same scores month after month. Many customer-experience initiatives have stalled when satisfaction ratings reach a plateau.

Flat scores are actually just a sign that the VOC program needs to evolve. There are various actions that can be taken to push the program along and different organizations approach the challenge in different ways. As a start, we offer a few dos and don’ts:

Do: Bring other metrics to the foreground. Satisfaction ratings (or NPS or however you’re keeping score) are not meant to be an end in themselves. They are intende...