Here's a quick challenge and reality check to ring in the 2nd month of 2012. Take an honest look at your customer-facing processes as if you were the customer. I'm not talking about "...but our company's internal data for defects per million shows that we're making pretty good parts". I'm talking about taking a long, hard look at customer perception. How does your customer perceive the overall quality, service and ease of doing business associated with their relationship with you? Customer satisfaction is not always about facts, figures and statistics. Sometimes it's all about asking this simple question: "Dear Mr. Customer - How likely it is that you would actually take the time to recommend me to a friend or colleague?"
Do you measure customer satisfaction by the number of customer complaints you have?
The lack of a formal customer complaint is not a reliable indicator that the customer is satisfied. Customer complaints are more often a sign that the customer is so extremely dissatisfied that they feel obligated or angry enough to tell you about it. What about the other portion of customers that simply turn and walk away? In most business circumstances, by the time a customer has left you, its too late to regain their trust. You've lost them and they're not coming back. In fact, there are a certain set of customers that will spend their nights and weekends talking trash about you, your company and their horrible experiences in dealing with your sorry butt.
Ok... now that I've made you feel like a complete loser, let's at least have a little fun here. Sit back, grab your cup of coffee and feel the pain associated with being a dissatisfied customer.
Want to gauge your customer's perception of you? Here are some tips and techniques that we've seen work out in the real world:
SIMPLE & LOW COST: Ask your customer to help you in getting 100% by partnering with you on the solution of 100% satisfaction. Rather than asking "Is everything ok?", try asking "What would I have to do in order to receive an A+ or 100% rating?" This approach invites the customer to give you pointers on improvement rather than the traditional invitation for feedback (i.e. "Y'all doing ok?"). By making it an "Us (you and your customer) against them (bad grades)" you create a partnering perspective with your customers in order to solve the puzzle (how to get an A+) together.
MIDDLE OF THE ROAD: Use a process to measure how likely your customers to "promote" your organization called by using a grading scale called the "Net Promoter Score". Learn more about this process here: www.netpromoter.com/np/calculate.jsp
COMPLEX & HIGHER COST: If you are in an organization that can spare a few more bucks, consider using a product like Online Survey Software from Qualtrics. It is complex software on the back end but simple for your customers to complete on the front end. Questionnaires and data from survey results are kept on a cloud for simple analysis, quick feedback on-going monitoring of key metrics. www.qualtrics.com/survey-software-video