Customer satisfaction

What questions should I ask myself about customer satisfaction?

September 11, 2020
Marc Thomas

Increasing customer satisfaction should be a goal of any business. These questions will help you think about why, how and when you'll do that.

Should you just take it for granted that customer satisfaction is something you should be pursuing or should you be preparing to answer a few questions first?

Well, it’s proven that managing customer satisfaction levels is good for your business. But continuing to drive customer satisfaction levels up will require focus and patience. So let’s just take a moment to get a handle on some basic questions about customer satisfaction. Starting with…

Why do you care?

Is customer satisfaction something you actually care about or is it a buzzword that you’re flirting with on Google?

When 73% of companies with “above average” customer experience perform better financially than their competitors, you should care about customer satisfaction.

But is it just about increasing revenues for you? Or are you genuinely looking to make your customers’ lives better through the service and products you’re delivering.

For an exemplary attitude towards customer satisafction we can look to Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh:

“Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.”

I love that. The idea that customer service is something so deeply embedded into an organisation’s culture that it extends across all departments.

Imagine what that could do for customer satisfaction levels in your business.

Another great example of customer satisfaction is Amazon. Jeff Bezos has made customer centricity — the idea of putting the customer satisfaction at the center of everything — a core value of the Amazon business.

Amazon’s customer centricity often expresses itself in weird ways. One particularly peculiar example of that is the now famous Amazon door-desk.

Bezos made the earliest desks at Amazon out of doors which he bought from a DIY shop. The idea was to be frugal. Why frugal? Well:

"These desks serve as a symbol of frugality and a way of thinking. It's very important at to make sure that we're spending money on things that matter to customers," said Bezos told the Seattle Times in 1998,"There is a culture of self-reliance.(With the low-tech desks) . . . we can save a lot of money.”

Maybe you’re not willing to work on a table made out of a door to push the boundaries of what you can deliver to customers, but you should ask yourself, do you actually care about improving customer satisfaction and why?

How will you approach bad feedback?

Fingers crossed that you won’t ever have to deal with it, but to be honest, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to come across very unsatisfied customers from time to time.

The question is: when you get very negative feedback or low customer satisfaction ratings, how will you approach it?

Generally, this breaks down to two issues:

  1. Will you actively seek to address problems that customers are having with your services or products?
  2. How will you do that? Will you involve the whole team? Will you reach out personally? What role will you play in the triage and treatment of those issues?

We’ve all seen those nightmare stories of TripAdvisor reviews where hotel managers respond with outrageously negative comments to dissatisfied customers and we can all, I think, agree that this is the wrong response.

Screenshot of a TripAdvisor interaction gone wrong

But how will you do it differently?

We’ll cover strategies for improving and addressing customer satisfaction issues in your business in a different post. But for now, let’s more on to measurement…

What methods will you use to measure it?

There’s a classic adage in business theory and it comes from Peter Drucker’s The Practice of Management (1954):

"What gets measured, gets managed"

In my experience, with some notable exceptions (vanity metrics), the things that get managed are the things which we are actively measuring.

For example, at doopoll, we want to deliver a world class customer experience. That’s why we actively track NPS scores and aim for a score of 70 or above. At the time of writing, we’re a tiny bit below that (65) and so I’m actively seeking to address concerns that some customers have expressed.

For more strategies on how to do this, see this article.

But setting a target for your own company which is related to other companies in your industry (We’re in Software and that’s got a benchmark score of 30!) will help you to aim for something specific.

Customer satisfaction that gets measured gets managed.

The benefit of doing this with an established scoring system like NPS is that you can avoid groupthink scenarios which so often happen in teams. Usually that looks like:

  • Team member 1: Hey, do you think our customers are satisfied.
  • Team member 2: Yeh. Probably. I don’t ever hear any negative feedback

Spoiler alert: if you’re tracking customer satisfaction by asking your team mates if customers are satisfied, you’re missing out on some amazing benefits and probably aren’t getting the whole picture.

How much time are you willing to invest in improving this?

Imagine for a second that you’re positive that you’ve got all the parts in place to measure and track customer satisfaction, how much time are you willing to invest in improving the scores you get?

If you believe that customer satisfaction is important, you must be willing to spend a good amount of time focusing on activities that are rounded and form part of a strategyfor improving customer satisfaction.

A great example is former Tesco CEO Terry Leahy who spent two days a week in stores interacting with customers. That’s a huge time commitment to customer satisfaction.

In fact, Harvard Business Review suggests that a CEO should spend up to 10% of their time taking care of three key priorities:

  1. Identifying strategic metrics for tracking customer satisfaction
  2. Building new product and market opportunities based on the insights from priority 1
  3. Developing talent that aligns to priorities 1 and 2

Would you be willing to invest up to 10% of your working hours on customer satisfaction?

What would it look like if you got a perfect customer satisfaction score?

Wow! Congratulations. 100% of your customers are 100% satisfied. You’ve really nailed management.

OK, so, maybe not quite yet. After all, we can all only dream of that score.

But, what would it look like for your company if you did manage to achieve a score like that?

  1. Would you sit back, put your feet up and calmly exhale?
  2. Would you use that fact to grow your market?
  3. Or would you accept that customer satisfaction is an ongoing process and that tomorrow brings a whole new day to delight your customers?

Even though that’s all a bit tongue in cheek, the attitude that you take to a good customer satisfaction rating says as much about your organisation’s culture as a bad score does.

Ready to go?

Are you convinced that customer satisfaction is the thing your business should be working on? Great. I’m glad it’s a priority for you – because that means you’re going to see great benefits.

Unlike other things that people tell you can make a difference to your business, customer satisfaction is definitely going to have an impact if you manage it properly.

But to manage it properly, there are a few more things we need. Let’s work on building out a customer satisfaction strategy, now.

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