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Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
08 October 2013

It is one thing to think you are doing a job well and adequately meeting the expectations of your customers, but resting on this assumption without any evidence from your customers can be perilous. You may well invest in comprehensive customer service training for staff and offer your customers a range of advantages, benefits and discounts, but unless you employ strategies to seek, measure and act on their feedback, you will never really know whether your customers are completely satisfied.

Why measure customer service satisfaction?

As we so often hear, difficult economic times are affecting the prosperity and profitability of businesses of varying types, sizes and purposes. Markets are shrinking and, in this climate, companies need to do all they can to increase customer satisfaction and maintain their existing pool of customers.

Of course, new customers are also important, but intensive resources are often required to attract potential new customers to a business. It is estimated to cost five to eight times as much to find new customers than it does to keep old ones, and this statistic helps to illuminate the need to benchmark and measure customer satisfaction.

Measuring customer service satisfaction: a new concept

A dedicated effort to measure customer-service experience and satisfaction can be quite new to many companies that have previously held income statements and balance sheets as their core indicators of success. Unfortunately for the latter, by the time customer service is felt on financial statements the opportunity to respond has been missed. To facilitate success in customer satisfaction, companies explore various options, including sales training, mentoring and the development of customer incentive programs.

Globalisation — more specifically, global business — has changed things irrevocably. Competition has increased, markets have become crowded and little differentiation has been observed. All of these factors (and more) have emphasised the need for change and the need to offer superior service.

Successful businesses and industry leaders measure customer satisfaction

In the global economy, companies that are ‘booming’ and leading their competitors understand the importance of measuring customer satisfaction. When satisfaction is effectively measured, businesses are better positioned to maintain their existing customers and draw in new ones. Savvy business owners and managers recognise that customer satisfaction is powerful in increasing market share and increasing profits.

The measurement of customer service satisfaction must be done well if it is to be meaningful

There is little point in blindly trying to measure customer satisfaction; it is essential that a robust approach to quantify, measure and track customer service satisfaction is employed.

Do not run the risk of relying on measures of customer service satisfaction that, although they have some value, can be subjective and make assumptions based on the end result. For example:

  • Sales representatives (and others) describing the customer’s ‘state of mind’
  • Tracking and counting complaints and their frequency
  • Using accounts receivable reports to monitor late (and therefore presumably unsatisfied) customer accounts

How can customer service satisfaction be effectively measured?

A customer service satisfaction surveying program needs to be valid and well designed to offer the most accurate way of measuring customer satisfaction. While different organisations survey in different ways according to their size, type and key business, it is generally important that:

  • Marketing and sales professionals (typically in house) play a role in the design of the surveying programs, questionnaires and focus groups and other activities that may be undertaken to obtain customer input
  • Management, and dedicated division of the company, champion programs to ascertain satisfaction with customer service
  • Evaluations are considered in terms of competitors’ customer service ratings, as well as those of the organisation itself
  • Results of customer service satisfaction activities are available to all employees
  • Customers are informed of changes made in response to the ideas and feedback they have offered
  • Continual customer service improvement is (or becomes) a commitment and strategic focus of the company.

When an organisation meaningfully measures customer service satisfaction, it is equipped with incredibly useful information for bringing about positive organisational change and, ultimately, increasing profits and market share.

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