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As the year closes out you might want to do some planning for next year.

Why Customer Satisfaction Advocacy is So Important at Year Beginning

It’s the start of the new year. It is time for taking stock of how your organization has done: revenue, profits, key product results, and services statistics. It is also one of the most powerful times to demonstrate to your employees, management’s commitment to customer satisfaction. Employees and managers hold the key for customer satisfaction success and this is an ideal opportunity to ensure they are engaged, aligned and committed to providing a superior customer experience. Customer Satisfaction strategies, importance and results should be part of the normal year end performance metrics review.

Employees will be watching what ‘results’ are publicized internally as this gives them an indication of management priorities. Employees like to feel that they have contributed to their company’s success. They watch who is being recognized and for what achievements, so they know what gets rewarded. They use these clues to develop their own skills and plan their careers.

If Customer Satisfaction results are not highlighted during year end reviews and those that contributed to its success are not recognized and / or rewarded, employees will get the message that customer satisfaction is less important than other areas of the business. Employees will reflect this attitude in their day to day activities resulting in an inevitable decline in what your customers experience. If, on the other hand, Customer Satisfaction results are highlighted as equally important as revenue and profit and other objectives and the heroes are lauded, it is a strong message that employees will notice.

If you want your customer satisfaction efforts to be successful, then ensure your employees see that customer satisfaction results are part of the review of the prior year achievements and understand the dynamics that drive superior results.

What are Customer Satisfaction Results?

Customer satisfaction results can take various forms, depending on what is being ‘measured’. For many organizations, it is the results of formal surveys of customers. It may also include the results of the customer service organization, its metrics and the volume of calls and complaints. If your organization has started evaluating satisfaction sentiment on the web, through social media sites, blogs and complaint sites, then include these insights as well.

How to get Maximum benefit from Customer Satisfaction results

There are five key areas to focus on

1. Results against Target: Did the organization have a target or targets to meet? Were the targets achieved? Which ones were better than others? Which were the lowest ratings?

2. Trends: Are the results getting better or worse? What is the trend of over the past few years, quarters, months or whatever schedule of data reporting is being used by the organization? Can you explain why?

3. Compare one group within the organization with other similar groups: If the results can be broken down across various leaders, geographies, departments, you should show results in aggregate and then results broken down by geography, sales branch, or service group. Create competition within the organization.

4. Ranking: Take the customer satisfaction results and then break it down to the next lower level of management. Then rank the departments or groups from top to bottom. Put the good results in green and the results that didn’t meet the target in red. No manager and his or her employees want to be at the bottom of the list. Show the results in group meetings to the employees.

5. Celebrate Success: Reward those who have performed well, publicly recognize them, and tell their stories for other employees to emulate. Sometimes budgets are tight and monetary rewards or promotions are not available. Recognition fills in the gap. Everyone likes praise. Mentioning an individual’s name in a presentation, putting their name on a plaque on the wall or even on a virtual plaque or trophy provides recognition.

What to do first?

1. Assemble survey, service and web sentiment data and analyze the results for key drivers and areas to improve.

2. Prominently publicize customer satisfaction results in your year end / year beginning communication.The best place to put them is at the beginning of a year end / year beginning presentation, report or email, even before financial results. Don’t put them in the appendix or at the end of the communication. It looks like an after thought.

3. Reward and recognize Heroes. Publicize people’s names and recount the situations they were involved in and their challenges and successes. Demonstrate the desired employee behavior that you want replicated.

4. Highlight actions plans to improve. Assign ownership and estimate time frames for improvements to be noticed by customers.Any leader of a group that has failed to achieve the desired objective, needs an action plan. If an action plan is not already in place, the responsibility to create one should be assigned with a promise to come back to the employees affected with what needs to be changed and how it will be accomplished. Often this process is done at the management level, from lower manager to senior management. But it is equally important to tell the employees of the whole organization and of the specific areas of concern that actions are underway and how they can help.

5. Ensure customer sentiment from the web (Social Media, blogs, and complaint vehicles such as complaint sites and Sidewiki) are being monitored and appropriate resources assigned to quickly react to any public relations crisis.

6. Set Targets for the new year.

Summary:

Year beginning is a busy time. Ensure customer satisfaction is part of the results gathering and is well communicated within your organization. This activity sets the tone for the new year.

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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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