When I was a customer satisfaction executive at IBM, we measured customer satisfaction with many aspects of the business. Customer surveys  fell  into three general categories:

1. Transaction satisfaction: Transaction surveys were conducted after individual transactions with various parts of IBM, such as a recent purchase, a service call, a search for information on the web, or how a  complaint was handled. All these were ‘transactions’ with the a customer. And how satisfied that individual was with that transaction was and still is very important.

Transaction surveys were monitored to ensure IBM didn’t call the same customer over and over again. We called that process survey fatigue. Individuals could not be contacted more than once every 6 months but organizations, who might have multiple contact points for various products, were not subject to the same survey fatigue limitations. as long as different people in the organization were being contacted.

Reporting was done on a monthly basis and aggregated at year end.

2. Product satisfaction. There are many many aspects to a product and we measured the ones we thought were most important. So for Software, did it have the right features, how easy was it to install, to use, to maintain? How reliable was it? All these things are different aspects of a product. We had very long surveys on product satisfaction.  Product Satisfaction surveys were generally conducted continuously over the course of a year and aggregated in waves and at year end. Individual customers might be contacted about different products  they had installed over the course of a year. Survey fatigue rules applies in this important survey area as well.

3. Relationship satisfaction: The third major category measured was the ‘relationship’ overall. A customer’s interactions with IBM could take place over several projects in a year, installing or upgrading or moving from X to Y, including many IBM products. The relationship type survey measures how well IBM worked with an organization overall, looking for strengths and weaknesses in the relationship.Relationship surveys were conducted once a year with our customers.

Some companies did not want to be surveyed at all and a ‘Do Not Survey’ data base was created and maintained.

Not every business is as complicated as IBM, and this kind of data may not be relevant to all but it is worth asking yourself about these areas.

With the advent of Social Media, Blogs, and Web 2.0, new sources of customer feedback needs to be monitored. This new source of customer feedback, will likely need to new metrics for management to review.

Do you measure transactions, products and relationships? Within the transaction process, do you only measure customer service? Do you measure how satisfied the customer was with their most recent acquisition? Could the customer find you easily? Could they find the information they wanted? Did the sales process leave them feeling good about the acquisition? Did you meet your customers’ expectations?

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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

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