Customer Satisfaction- How not to

Customer Satisfaction versus Customer Service

Each and every business on the planet sets out to satisfy the needs of its customers. This is true of the hardware store on the corner, the big box electronic retailer and the bank you deal with. If this truth is ‘self-evident’ then why is the actual service that is delivered to customers so poor?

A recent Transversal survey indicated that customers’ opinion of a company (brand) declined in 53% of the cases after contacting a company call center!

To understand this dichotomy let us first clarify the opening premise. Each and every business on the planet sets out to satisfy the needs of its customers, within reason. The addition of ‘within reason’ makes obvious what we already knew. Companies will not do anything to keep a customer satisfied but they will do some things. The companies must select from the list of possible activities and select a smaller sub set of activities. Generally these activities selected will be influenced heavily by the three specific drivers:
· Cost impact and relationship to Customer Life Time Value
· Competitive Pressures- what the competition is doing.
· What they believe the customer wants-

Every discussion and decision regarding the level of service to be provided will include the above three points. The financial costs to the organization to provide the service are generally easy to quantify as is a relationship to retention and by extrapolation Life Time Value. The Sales department will have a good idea what the competitors are doing, recent customers who have defected to you can tell you more and mystery calling or ‘secret shopper’ programs can test the veracity of the service being promised. Often the most challenging and elusive driver is ‘knowing’ what customers want.

Do your customers want you to use their name or fix their problem?

Despite the use of focus groups, market research, lost customer ‘post-mortems’ most organizations do not really know what their customers expect of them. In the place of ‘real’ knowledge of the customers, most organizations substitute what they feel the customer should want. This is reflected in the internal Quality Assurance programs being run in most centers today. Have a look at the vast majority of internal contact monitoring forms and you get a sense of what is going on here. Some forms score almost 40% of total points based upon the greeting and frequent use of the customers name. While I will agree you only get one chance to make a good first impressions and that everyone pays more attention and enjoys hearing their own name, these can have negligible impact on the customer satisfaction.

A company we worked with was experiencing an increase in complaints and a decline in customer satisfaction even though by their own internal quality metrics the service had never been better. We worked with the company and quickly discovered that their internal system had very little connection to satisfying the customer. What it did focus on were points such as:
· The greeting,
· Providing the Agent name,
· Using the customers name,
· Maintaining control of the call,
· Not placing the customer on Hold
· Not transferring the customer anywhere else

Unfortunately not one of these points reflected whether the customer problem/inquiry was satisfied or if follow up was required. These omissions have far more impact on the satisfaction of the customer than would the points being monitored. Further the Agents in the center knew how they were being scored on the calls so they focused on getting better scores (and additional compensation) and not on meeting the customers’ needs and expectations.

The truth of the matter is what most organizations are tracking has little to do with actual satisfaction.

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