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“Customer satisfaction is the most important thing for our company”. “Good customer satisfaction is an absolute prerequisite for growth and development”. Does it sound familiar? According to these strong statements, it could be assumed that customer satisfaction is a big investment in the company.

However, considering the importance of the subject, customer satisfaction and its measurement are more in the background than in the front line. It may be even so that the company doesn’t have proper tools for measuring customer satisfaction and it rarely works that you just survey customers on their levels of satisfaction.

The client is an individual, and according to studies, 80% want to be treated like one. Therefore, customer satisfaction surveys almost always come up with a pure personal view that correlates with personal experience and expectation. However, only 20% of the companies take advantage of the survey results. This may be due, among other things, to the fact that polls are long, half-yearly, or even only once a year. Or simply because there is a lack of knowledge on how to use the results and how to put it into action or because there isn’t any systematic process to handle the results.

What can be done? The project could be divided into three parts:

  1. Acquisition of a uniform, customizable system / application for quantifying surveys
  2. Agreeing the schedule for surveys, and creating a process for tracking and communicating results.
  3. An overlay process is attached to this process, which automatically launches the exploitation of results and communication to both, the customers and the surveyed company’s own people, and puts in place any necessary development projects with relevant follow-up.

The customer satisfaction survey usually has the supposition to look for corrective points for action. However, it is also important to emphasize positive feedback whenever it is obtained and to communicate it extensively with customers and own employees. Positive feedback encourages and inspires better performances, which is something that is often forgotten. The supplier is like an employee and a customer as an employer who pays the supplier’s salary. Positive incentive – or lack thereof – works in exactly the same way as the ratio between the employer and the employee in relation to the supplier and the customer, in addition to the work atmosphere on either side. Real and factual communication is at the heart of everything here as well.

At IBM we have developed a technology for measuring customer satisfaction, as well as the follow-up and action process. Our new survey and metering tool, Medallia, helps us to get the same regular feedback in a format that allows you to track and anticipate the results and the related development efforts. Why not use analytical tools and Watson in the future to give a picture of trends, for example in different industrial sectors? The more survey data is accumulated, the more accurate the trends are, the more proactive it is for directing corrective action.

Customer satisfaction describes the customer’s experience of met expectations. The starting point is to ensure that we speak about the same thing and agree with what has been agreed. If the aforementioned is not okay, it is pretty safe to come up with a situation where the measured service levels green, but the customer is all but satisfied.

Success is best measured by the customer’s behavior: if he or she recommends the services and products of the company to others, both, meeting expectations and the good service are both successful.

Our next blog post topic will look at the difference between Nordic countries in customer satisfaction.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact with me at antero.vuorio@fi.ibm.com if you have any questions.

Country Manager, Global Technology Services, Finland

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