All of us think we can whip up a customer satisfaction survey with a rating scale, send it out, and tabulate the results. What’s so hard about that? What could possibly go wrong? Here are three keys to getting it right.
First, customers form their views based on the end-to-end customer service, not just on your product. For example, if you were surveying restaurant customers, you would want to know customer views on each step from the dinner reservation through stamping their ticket for free parking as they leave. Suppose you only asked about the food and they loved it, but what they didn’t tell you was that they were never coming back because the place was so loud they couldn’t hear the person sitting next to them. You need to deconstruct the customer experience into all its attributes. Otherwise, you may get a high rating for great food, but still lose customers and you won’t know why.
Second, it doesn’t matter if you find out what attributes your customers rate you high or low on if you don’t also find out which attributes they actually care about. Taking the restaurant example, they may rate you low on the comfort of the seating but they may not really care about it either – it may not drive their satisfaction with the overall experience. Maybe they order your food “to go” because your location is on their way home and they couldn’t care less about your chairs. They might rate you high on satisfaction with your loyalty program, but don’t really care about it, so this doesn’t drive their overall satisfaction either. What you want to know is which attributes of the customer experience are driving overall customer satisfaction. You learn the answer by having your customers rate the individual attributes and then rate their overall satisfaction with the total experience. Then you use multiple regression analysis or similar statistical techniques to understand how ratings of each attribute correlate with ratings of overall customer satisfaction.
Third, act on the results. The only thing worse than having customers who are not satisfied with your service, is asking them what they think and then ignoring what they say. Visualize the results of your analysis as a 2 x 2 matrix.
- Focus first on fixing the attributes that fall into Box 1 (customers care and are dissatisfied).
- Next see what you can do to improve the attributes in Box 2 (customers care and are satisfied) to keep up with the competition.
- Keep an eye on the attributes in Box 3 (customers don’t care and are dissatisfied) to make sure their dissatisfaction doesn’t become so extreme that it “leaks into” Boxes 1 and 2.
- Finally, shift resources from Box 4 (customers don’t care and are satisfied) attributes to fix and improve Boxes 1 and 2. For example, it might make sense to give up on a loyalty-points program if it doesn’t drive overall satisfaction.
If you want to learn more, I still find Ray Kordupleski’s book, Mastering Customer Value Management (2003) is a good place to start. One of the things Ray emphasizes is that on a 10 point scale, he finds most businesses need to get ratings of 8 or above before a customer will demonstrate loyalty or recommend your business to someone else. In his words, “6 or 7 may seem good, but when it comes to measuring customer satisfaction, good is bad.” There are other good resources and plenty of firms that specialize in customer satisfaction measurement. If you don’t have in-house expertise in statistical analysis or survey design, buy it. Measuring customer satisfaction is harder than it looks. Invest in it wisely and you will learn what matters to your customers and therefore to your business.