Customer Satisfaction Hijacked
By Scott Hornstein
Friday, 28th September 2007
We are greatly underestimating the power of customer satisfaction -

We don't define it in terms of profit and loss, but we know it's a factor, we base decisions on self-congratulatory information.

Dis-satisfaction augers the hole in the bottom of our customer base.

Here are two examples and four suggestions.

1. At the end of a phone transaction the rep asked if I would participate in a short survey.  I agreed and was asked perhaps 10 questions.  For each I responded on a scale of 1 – 10, 1 being abject despair and 10 rapture.  My responses were 7's and 8's.  My interviewer asked why I was not satisfied?.  I responded that I was satisfied  – they met my expectations for courtesy, performance and professionalism. I'll be back and I'll bring my friends.  But does that really rate a 10?  Not in my book.

2. It was a very hot day.   I was picking up a new car.  My salesman was explaining each button and display.  As he finished, he (a large man) closed his door and leaned across the console.  Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a piece of paper.  With a smile spreading across his face he put it in front of me.  It was a customer satisfaction survey, with a broad highlighter stroke through all the "Outstanding" boxes.  Intimidation.

Let's get some things straight.

1. Raise your standards.  Customers expect to be treated poorly.  That's no reason to fulfill their expectations.  Each customer is a guest in your house, not a delivery.  You don't get a 10 for treating them with the respect due.  You do get a 10 for understanding how your customer defines value and raising the bar.  

2. Empower the right stuff.  Measure and reward the behaviors that achieve and surpass your definable standards.  Tie measurement directly to the bottom line.  Publicize how revenues rise and fall based on satisfaction.  We know instinctively that happier customers stay longer and buy more.  Prove it.  Pay attention to net promoter– those that would refer family and friend. Pay more attention to the actual referral rate. 

3. Customer interaction is a messy business – take it like a man. Don't manage to the time or number of interactions.  Answer the person. Don't just skate on the surface, probe for opinion and nuance.   And if they've got something to say, listen, understand and communicate.

4. Bad news used to travel quick, now it metastasizes.  People don't just tell their friends, they post to a blog, or YouTube, or FaceBook. Realize that your reputation, which took a lot of work to build, can be trashed in a heartbeat.

Customer satisfaction is not just a warm and fuzzy, it's a smart business investment..  It can make you stand out in a world gone flat. 

By Scott Hornstein  
Chief Marketing Officer, Wired Assets Data Corporation

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