Archive for April, 2011

The Embarrassment of Being Wrong

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

No one like to realize that he or she is wrong. Customer Satisfaction is about ensuring customers are happy with your products and services. But sometimes things don’t work out right and need to be fixed. If an organization and the people within have difficulty accepting that they are ‘wrong’ and the customer is ‘right’, they fall into a trap of trying to blame the customer. See a Ted Conference Video by Kathryn Schulz on Being Wrong talks about error blindness and rationalizations used by businesses. The root causes of the Ford Pinto exploding gas tanks are exposed.

Harvey MacKay tells a story about how a cab driver exceeded his expectations as he took a taxi ride. This story is an example of how a cab driver broke down the service he offered into many components and exceeded customer expectations by offering the customers more than just a safe ride to their destination. In many cases he offered them a personalized, customized choices. He exceeded customer satisfaction but also helped his foster a limousine business as well.

In March, 2011, Better Business Bureau released its annual complaint statistics: 1.1 Million complaints in 2010, up 10% from 2009. While the top 3 categories reduced complaints and had high percentages of resolved complaints, the top 10 only show a few categories that increased year over year.

The consumer has been given the freedom to provide feedback on any product or service they acquire though new types of review sites and new web and mobile techniques. For every action, there is a reaction and I recently came across a few articles describing how various organization are attempting to block the consumer’s right to share information. Openness, Communication and Accountability, the 3 elements of transparency, are better approaches.

Customer Testimonials or References are one of the key measurements of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Word of mouth marketing is probably the most effective means of marketing. A personal endorsement from someone will help close a sale. Social Proof is the theory behind customer testimonials Eleven techniques being used today for social proof are discussed in this article.

Customer testimonials and references are key indicators of customer satisfaction. They have the extra benefit of driving word of mouth advertising. A trend has evolved over the past few years where companies don’t gather the references and distribute them, the customers do. Organizations like Yelp helped strangers share reviews with each other. A more recent trend using sites like Facebook Places, Foursquare and Gowalla allow friends to share where they are visiting, creating a dynamic reference system.

In a large organization, where customer service reports may impact the level of service provided to the customer and on what aspects of customer satisfaction with service gets management attention. Some of the advantages of having customer service report to IT, Product Development, Marketing and Sales or by country are reviewed in this blog post.

IBM has made some recent announcements to help its customers with changing consumer demands based on new web and mobile techniques. As a result, IBM has announced the Smarter Commerce consulting practice and new software to measure social interaction to help their clients with these new abilities. As a by product of these rich information being gathered there should be an improvement not only in marketing information but in customer satisfaction data as well.

Temkin Group , a customer experience research group that focuses on increasing customer loyalty has published a free report on customer experiences with 143 large US companies. All 143 firms are ranked in this report.

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