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The purpose of customer satisfaction research

Posted in Customer Management

The purpose of customer satisfaction research is to improve customer loyalty and yet so often surveys sit collecting dust. Worse than that, customers have generously given their time to assist in the customer satisfaction survey believing that some positive action will take place. Their expectations will have been raised. The process of collecting the data seems easier than taking action to improve satisfaction levels.

In any customer satisfaction survey there will be quick fixes – actions that can be taken today or tomorrow that will have immediate effect. These could be quite specific such as a newsletter, changes to the invoicing, or a hot-line for technical information. In the longer term, cultural changes may well be required to improve customer satisfaction, and that is more difficult. More than 54% of customers think that the way customer engagement is carried out by the companies needs to be changed.
The first step to doing highly accurate customer satisfaction analysis is to ask customers how satisfied they are. Solicited feedback, usually collected through surveys, is useful to determine if your customer satisfaction is high or low. It can also show you overall trends. However, you must keep in mind that mildly dissatisfied or mildly satisfied customers often don’t bother to take surveys. * If you are only hearing from the extremes, your satisfaction scores are not reflecting reality.

That’s why you must also look into unsolicited feedback. Emails, agent notes, and call transcripts provide invaluable data about how satisfied your customers are. You not only find out what their problems are, but you will understand their feelings about you, especially if you are doing text analytics and sentiment analysis on their exact words.

However, your customer satisfaction analysis will still not be completely accurate if you are only looking at inbound communication. A typical business only hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers**, which means that there is a potentially vast pool of detractors out there talking about your brand. If you have a social listening strategy, you can pick up clues from your customers who are venting, or praising, on Twitter and in other social media.

Finally, customers are known to exaggerate, mis-remember, and sometimes even lie. It is therefore imperative to look at actual customer behavior through your CRM and transactional data systems to see what customers are doing. If they continue to buy your products, their satisfaction might not be as low as they report.

Once you have your survey, inbound communication, social, and transaction data in place, you can do a complete analysis to find root causes and accurate satisfaction scores. You can compare what customers are saying to you to what they are saying about you—and you can see if what they say lines up with what they do. And you can figure out what actions you can take to improve their satisfaction. Then, you can include your customer satisfaction analysis with your analytics regarding prospects, competitors, and employees as part of your comprehensive customer experience management program.

All in all, the key to customer satisfaction analysis is to get as much data as you can, from as many sources as possible, and look at it all together. That’s how you will reveal what you can do to really keep your customers satisfied.
Many of the issues that affect customer satisfaction span functional boundaries and so organisations must establish cross-functional teams to develop and implement action plans. One of the best ways of achieving this involvement by different groups of employees is to involve them in the whole process.

When the survey results are available, they should be shared with the same groups that were involved right at the beginning. Workshops are an excellent environment for analysing the survey findings and driving through action planning. These are occasions when the survey data can be made user friendly and explained so that it is moved from something that has been collected and owned by the researcher to something that is believed in and found useful by the people that will have to implement the changes.

As with all good action planning, the workshops should deliver mutually agreed and achievable goals, assigned to people who can make things happen, with dates for achievements and rewards for success. Training may well be required to ensure that employees know how to handle customer service issues and understand which tools to use in various situations. Finally, there should be a constant review of the process as improving customer satisfaction is a race that never ends.