Many large organizations have a complaint system in addition to a customer service organization. It is designed to handle the situations where the customer is dissatisfied with the service he received and wants to take the problem to a higher level of management. The complaint department’s responsibility is to listen carefully to the customer’s service complaint, to resolve it or explain why it cannot be resolved in a way that leaves the customer ‘less dissatisfied’. A closed complaint does not mean the customer is satisfied,even if the customer’s request was granted. Here’s an example.

In a prior blog post titled How to Understand Your Customers Better using Focus Groups, I reviewed the reasons for an organization to want to run a focus group and what the elements were of customer satisfaction research using this technique. This article reviews the preparation steps to run a successful focus group.

Many organizations use satisfaction surveys to keep a pulse on their customers. The objective is to be able to create a numerical measurement with some statistical validation. Surveys have their place but there is another form of customer satisfaction data that is purely qualitative, that is, opened ended, dynamic and flexible. It provides for a greater depth of understanding of your customers, and provides the language the customers use when discussing your products or services. One technique to gather this data is called a focus group.

7 Techniques to Understand Your Customers

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

A prior blog post called Customer Satisfaction Tip: Understand Your Customer reviewed why it was important to understand your customer and what it really meant to understand. Three company examples were included, IBM, Cisco and Apple. This post covers seven techniques and best practices to understand your customers, theirs needs, wants, wishes, complaints, concerns, and the terminology they use.

Top 12 consumer frustrations

Monday, October 24th, 2011

According to Reuters, a Consumer Reports survey of over 1000 consumers in March, 2011, with the question “As a consumer, what frustrates you the most ?” yielded 12 top rated results Seven of the top frustrations, including the top one, dealt with customers calling organizations support desks, while the remaining five frustrations, including the second most common complaint mentioned, dealt with customers visiting a store or having a service provided at the consumer’s site. Eight of the 12 (2/3 of the factors frustrating consumers) relate to customer service.

A Voice of the Customer programs can make a difference in an organization but only if management is willing to listen and take action. At my organization, we had a forward thinking President who brought in bonus payment for all employees..even salaried ones. Half the bonus was for business related results (revenue and profit) and half came from a customer satisfaction rating. There were some very interesting outcomes of this action.

Many people think customer satisfaction is only about customer service and support. In fact, what we found at IBM, was that customers could be dissatisfied with many different aspects of our business, from the product features being offered, to the way we advertise and promote out products. With the advent of social media and the new ways of engaging with customers has its own set of issues. Two studies show consumers will disengage when companies do not provide what they expect from them on social media.

Netflix responds to customer social media outrage

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

How Social media are Amplifying Customer Outrage by author Chris Taylor shows examples of real life, on going, struggles between organizations and consumers. Some organizations are backing down from the public outrage. Some are not. Netflix responded with a change in their business model and a video of explanation. It remains to be seen if customers and Wall Street will react more positively.

One of the things I always ask myself when our service organization wants to say that the customer is wrong, is …what made the customer think this way? Did our sales force sell it wrong? Is there something wrong on our website or our packaging? Read about a car manufacturer that misled customers but could weasel out of it legally through a disclaimer on the web. A few tips are given on how to handle situations where you have to say ‘no’ to a customer.

Many organizations plan conversions or modifications that affect them internally and may make changes relevant to their customers. It should be obvious. When an organization makes a change that affects customers, the business should communicate with them about it. Be sure when creating a plan to modify some aspect of your organization, that you consider the customer’s perspective. Planning how the customer perceives the change will impact customer satisfaction with your products and services.

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