Measuring customer satisfaction is a valid exercise, but if you take on the task, it absolutely must be done the right way. There’s a lot of junk science out there that promises to give you an insight into what your customers are thinking, but the reality is, if you or your research company is not using the right survey and research methods, the results you get back can, at best, be ineffective, and, at worst, will send you in the wrong direction causing you to waste a lot of time and money fixing issues that are not important.
One can argue that fixing any problem is a good step in the right direction but in business successful companies learn quickly how to focus their priorities on the issues that matter most. The role of research is to identify the real issues that – when fixed – will help move a company forward.
Marketers sometimes think measuring customer satisfaction is nothing more than going out to the floor and asking customers if they’re happy with their service that day, then taking the answers and assuming that’s how everyone feels. But this doesn’t provide the information you’re really after. You need to go deeper with the right questions and right structure to really analyze how your customers feel.
One of your goals in measuring customer satisfaction is to learn not only how to meet your customers’ expectations, but how to exceed them. You want to gauge your internal processes, but you also want your customers to come back to you, and more than that, you want them to recommend your business to their friends.
Obtaining valid and illustrative data should be the role of a professional research company because they will ask not only the right questions, but the right people, at the right time, to the right scale, and with the right emphasis…as well as prioritizing the results.
When it’s all over, the intent of measuring customer satisfaction is not to gain more satisfaction, it’s learning how to predict your customers’ behavior and understand what things you are doing to prevent your customers from further engaging. You grow your company by delighting your customers, and you have a better chance of delighting them if you know what they expect and understand how they see you.
Photo credit: Dmitry Baranovskiy (Flickr, Creative Commons)