Customer satisfaction is the degree to which the goods or services of your organisation meet or exceed the expectations of your customers or clients.
Where you do well, it gives you some insights into their future buying patterns and their loyalty to your organisation because they repeat purchases and refer you to their networks.
Where you do not so well then you can expect complaints, requests for fixes and/or compensation, damage to reputation and ultimately loss of those customers.
- It costs five times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep one
- Dissatisfied customers spread the word of their experience to four times more people than satisfied customers do
- Phaedrus, a first century philosopher, remarked: “No one returns with good will to the place which has done them a mischief”
The Importance of Measurement
Organisations that measure customer satisfaction are better able to manage their own businesses…
- Information gathered from customer satisfaction surveys can be used to improve your product or service offering
- The very process of gathering customer feedback and measuring satisfaction sends a message about your culture – you care about your customers and clients
- Data about revenues and costs within your business are lagging indicators – they tell you what happened, whereas customer satisfaction will point to future performance – it is a predictive indicator
The Building Blocks
Organisations that have built a service-oriented business which does deliver customer satisfaction have worked in three areas…..
- Culture/Vision refers to the leadership provided by the top team of an organisation and includes the elements of vision/mission statements, policy, budgetary commitment, internal communications, setting a personal example and use of reward/punishment mechanisms
- Soft Skills refers to the skills, knowledge, attitudes and values of staff towards customer service, both internal and external and towards participation in customer service improvement initiatives internally
- Process refers to the internal procedures, mechanisms, systems, IT, telecoms etc. that constitute the delivery mechanism of the organisation. Process also includes processes for establishing on a routine basis feedback from internal and external customers on the service experience and actions taken to respond to that feedback
How do you measure these 3 things?
These 3 factors come together to create the service environment that will produce high customer satisfaction levels, but in themselves they are not often measured.
They can be, through processes like culture surveys, process mapping/reviews and training effectiveness surveys, but more likely organisations will measure OUTPUTS as perceived by customers and clients.
The Two Primary Outputs
There are two primary outputs which most commonly get measured through on-line, telephone-based or paper surveys and they are…..
- How did the organisation interact with me? e.g.
- when I made the enquiry
- when I placed the order
- when I had a problem that needed fixing
- when I had a query
- when the delivery didn’t happen as planned
- when the product or service wasn’t what I expected
- How did the organisation make me feel whilst doing these things? e.g.
- did I feel valued?
- did I feel listened to?
- did I feel understood?
- did I detect sincerity?
- did the customer service agent treat me empathetically?
- did I enjoy the experience?
The first category of process means very little if the second category of feeling is missing – we have all experienced the customer service agent who just ‘goes through the motions’ and has a target time to get the job done with little concern for our sense of service.
The second category is harder to measure and can involve ‘blind shopping’ techniques, where the survey team ‘pretends’ to be a real customer and records the interaction on video or audio equipment for subsequent sharing with the leadership team. Further advice on this second category will be given in a later InfoGuide.
So what do customers really expect to see if you are to meet or exceed their expectations?
As a leadership team designing processes and interpersonal skills training for your customer service agents, you should work on the basis that most customers believe in the following principles. Although some of them may seem contradictory, a customer may expect both at the same time……
- The principle of immediate response.
- Customers believe that most decisions should be made on the spot and that service is inadequate if they get passed on to someone else or feel that they are getting delayed until later. They expect prompt and efficient service and if you can’t resolve matters immediately, they expect you to honour your commitments to get back to them. They expect you to do what you say you will do.
- The principle of easy solution.
- Customers feel that you are a professional and that analysing a problem and finding a solution must come easy for you. They expect you to work out a solution to their problem. They expect to hear and respond well to what you will be able to do for them – not what you can’t.
- The principle of total dedication.
- Customers believe that you have nothing else to do but to service their special problems. They expect to be given your undivided attention and don’t care what your problems are.
- The principle of perception.
- Customers will make decisions and take action on the basis of truth as they see it. Perception, not absolute reality, influences a customer’s behaviour. If the customer doesn’t perceive service, he/she will take their business elsewhere, without necessarily making a lot of fuss about it. Customers will perceive positive service through good listening, empathy and then building a solution to their problem.
- The principle of needs.
- Customers often can’t distinguish between what they need and what they want. Your role is to help them do that through questioning to get facts. They often need to let off steam and your role is to allow them to do it, without making matters worse – once done, you can then get back to helping them.
Copyright: © Clive Weston, The Hartwell Consultancy, 2020
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