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Customer Satisfaction – How to Show that You Really Care?!

December 18, 2012

When was the last time you experienced poor (non satisfactory) quality of a product / service?!

When was the last time you shared a feedback with the product / service provider about your non satisfactory experience ?!

 

This post got triggered by two of my recent personal experiences as a customer / user.  I call these the `moments of truth`.  In such `moments of truth`, sometimes, a customer gets to experience a specific product / service which leads to a negative  experience.  And, in these instances of dis-satisfaction, quite often either the customer reaches out to provide the feedback, and / or share the same if and when the organization contacts the customer to seek feedback on the experience(s).

 

Imagine – you are a dissatisfied customer – and on the top of that – you don`t see any mechanism of sharing your feedback OR you are able to raise the feedback but you don`t see your issue being resolved (or being only partially resolved) OR worse off don`t even get a response to the feedback… What do you do?!

Unless you are indifferent – chances are – you will switch over to a competitor OR not recommend that brand / organization within your network.. Only ray of hope the organization has – it`s a monopoly or the competition is worse off..

 

In today`s era of intense competition, every $ counts and hence every customer and hence each moment of truth.

 

Any organization would (or perhaps should) listen to it`s customers in the truest sense and improve / innovate on the experience gained during the `moments of truth`.   Any positive experience is more likely to make a customer become a repeat buyer, even share positive word of mouth (and potentially influence others to buy), and hence in the long term have positive impact on the Revenues.

 

Therefore, during my consulting engagements and interactions on the topic of customer satisfaction, I encourage the organization and it`s leadership to focus on the customer feedback management process as much on the mainstream product / service quality improvement.   BUT – quite often, I see several loose ends in this need and desire to create positive end to end customer experience.

 

A few weeks back, I had raised a query through the customer services webpage of one of the leading automotive firm (well known for it`s production systems).  And, earlier yesterday morning I got a mail from their Customer Care mail ID.  The mail mentioned “XYZ strives to continually improve by listening to feedback from our customers.  You recently contacted us for assistance and we would like to ask you some questions about your experience.”…Well, I had not received any response so far – so out of curiosity – I clicked on the link for sharing my input – and the second question I got asked was – Have you heard back from the Customer Services team – my answer was NO… And, a message popped up – “We are looking to get feedback from people who have contacted and also received a response from the XYZ Customer Experience Center regarding an issue or question.  We apologize for the inconvenience.”

 

Made me wonder  – first of all, I never got a response to my original query and on the top of that the organization does not seem to be having a system to cross check on status of responses before sending across a satisfaction survey mail.  And, this is the case with an organization which is used as a benchmark!..

In the endeavor towards improving an organization`s customers experiences, I leverage a 5 step model.

  1. Do you really know What Your Customer Needs and Wants (delighters, satisfiers, dis-satisfiers)?

  2. Are your Product / Service performance standards adequate?

  3. Are you delivering as per the defined performance standards?

  4. Do you have effective conversations (not communications) with the customer about the performance levels delivered?

  5. Do you leverage the inputs from the above to continuously improve and reduce the gaps?

Quite often, a lot of focus is given by the organizations on the step 3 – wherein dashboards show the RAG status against various customer experience relevant KPI`s.  And, certain organizations undertake improvement initiatives to enhance the performance levels against KPI`s under-delivering.  More often than not – such efforts being put in towards measurements and improvements of the current KPI`s are unrewarding because customer needs are not truly and completely understood or worse off assumed.

 

But, the biggest challenge and perhaps the opportunity for improvement is at the step 4.

 

Going back to the earlier incident of the automotive firm, it perhaps highlights a lack of an aligned end to end customer experience management system.  While it`s a good process check to ask a customer itself – if you have received a response from the customer services team – could this be avoided!.  Could this firm have an internal mechanism to ascertain as to whether there are outstanding customer queries which haven`t been responded to as yet?.   This area is particularly significant where an organization is receiving feedback from multiple channels – CRM platform, websites, sales & marketing staff, point of sales, etc etc.  You need to connect, consolidate and integrate the feedback coming from various avenues for having efficient and effective customer conversations.

 

In another instance, I recently raised a concern with my bank via mail through their online banking platform about the relationship management.  This complaint did not help much.  I provided the feedback at the stage of logging off from my online account through their survey tool (asking score between 0-10) – I scored zero on two occasions.  I also took the decision to reach out to their ombudsman`s office.. I got a response – but incomplete.  And, then I networked & reached out to the Head of Service Quality… Back came the apology mail and then phone calls.  My questions (besides my problem with their relationship management) were 2 fold:

  • What happened to my feedback (zero scores on their online survey)?.  Does someone read the results and reach out to the customers who have given low scores?

  • Why did I have to escalate?.  Why didn`t the online customer services team and even the ombudsman address my feedback?

These issues are manifestation of the organization`s systems (or lack of), and perhaps even the culture & customer orientation.   Why ask for feedback or provide avenues to share your experience, when no one is perhaps reading and / or acting on it?!

 

Customer Satisfaction / Loyalty is a big topic – google search of “customer satisfaction” gives 85 million results and “managing dissatisfied customers” shows 11,600 results.  Amazon has 4,500 odd books on “customer satisfaction” ….quite a lot of stuff there.  But, miles to go…

 

So, if you and your organization really care about Customer Satisfaction / NPS / Loyalty / Retention  (any term you use) – it`s time you look at the customer experience on an end to end basis, and ensure that 

  • Your organizational systems, processes and people with respect to seeking, capturing and responding to customer feedback are aligned.

  • If you do choose to seek customer feedback – respond back – close the loop (especially for the dis-satisfied ones).  Show empathy and responsiveness.

  • Last and the most important – if you do promise to improve – act on it.  Be Reliable, Demonstrate and Assure tangible efforts & outcomes.

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