Customer satisfaction is a key differentiator and is frequently seen as a major driver for any business strategy. There is little doubt that executive management already understand there is a need to keep customers satisfied. It is well understood that it is at least six times easier to keep an existing customer than to find a new one. Even with these facts, the reality of the situation is often very different to the one that is desired. Frequently we find that the processes in place to keep existing customers satisfied are sadly deficient. Often this stems from a lack of understanding around how to solicit feedback.
Ask yourself the question: Is customer satisfaction something we monitor frequently or is it something we survey occasionally?
What is the biggest failing? Surprisingly, a lack of contact with customers. Or if there is contact, it is of the wrong kind. Typically, the corporate mentality is to ‘make the next sale’. The consequence of this is to bombard existing customers (easy targets) with lots of information about new products and services rather than asking them how they are getting on with the existing ones. Ironically, a new sale is far more likely to happen if an existing customer feels looked after and cherished while using the product or service they already have.
Why is this? Individuals are more likely to turn to the people they know and trust to buy things than to go somewhere else. If you have been looking after your customers and they are happy with your products and services, they will buy other things from you. Clearly they have to know that you sell other things. This is where you need to ensure that your marketing takes them down a route where they ‘discover’ your alternate products and services. (A great subject for another day!)
All too often companies and organisations will rely on an annual customer satisfaction survey to assess what their customers think of them. This may not be a bad thing if; 1. The survey is taken at an appropriate time (appropriate to the customer that is) and 2. The questions being asked are relevant to the products and services being used at the time. However, this seems to be the exception rather than the norm. Furthermore, where often these surveys leave lots of space for customer comments, they rarely get read. Instead the scores are totalled to provide a customer satisfaction index that is presented to the board. The result is that customers feel ignored. And worse still that they have wasted their time filling in the survey in the first place.
If you approach customer satisfaction as an on-going process of engagement then you are much more likely to receive useful and honest responses. The key is timing. There are many, many triggers that provide the opportunity to solicit feedback. The obvious example is immediately after a product or service has been delivered. Other examples may include when an invoice has been sent or a change in personnel has taken place or after a project review or a service anniversary. Examine your customer engagement process and look for significant events and tie your customer satisfaction process to that.
Finally, and most importantly, make sure the survey is designed with the ‘trigger’ in mind, relevant to the customer and short. It should contain no more than five questions, better still just three. The questions should be scale based, that is based on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is dissatisfied and 10 is highly satisfied. You could add one question asking the customer to comment, but if you do, be sure to respond to every comment made.
If you would like to try out this new way of sending out customer satisfaction surveys, take a look at CustomerSure, it has been designed with these principles in mind.