Unlocking the value of your customer satisfaction surveys - Part
In our second
article in the series “Unlocking the value of your customer
satisfaction surveys” we will discuss a critical element in an
effective customer survey program: responding to immediate
customer needs identified during the survey process.
Part 1 of the
series explored the topic of Measurement Principles. You can
access this article at the link provided below.
immediate customer needs identified during the survey process:
companies only use customer satisfaction survey results as a
report of “how we did last month”. Truly proactive,
customer-focused organizations respond to customer survey
information to increase revenue and improve customer and employee
satisfaction and loyalty.
process of administering a customer satisfaction survey program
your customer will often express items requiring immediate
attention. We will refer to these occurrences as a “HOTLINE”. A
HOTLINE could include leads for new business, up-sell and
cross-sell opportunities, or areas of significant dissatisfaction
from an irate customer. This is the moment of truth in the eyes of
If you respond to
these items promptly, you demonstrate to the customer how much you
care about their business. If you don't, the customer will
perceive that your firm is wasting their time in asking them to
participate in the survey. That is, you aren't taking the time to
respond to their feedback. A customer that has a need for
additional services will now have time to shop your competitor.
And, a customer that is dissatisfied with the product or service
will only be further convinced of the lack of performance of your
organization. The goal is to take this opportunity to show the
customer how much you truly care about their needs.
There are 4 steps
we will discuss in setting up a process to effectively respond to
your customer's needs:
“connected at the hip” with your survey partner
your HOTLINE criteria
Becoming "connected at the hip" with your survey partner:
To ensure objectivity in their customer satisfaction survey
process many companies engage a third party survey firm. If this
is your approach to performing surveys, then the first step to
setting up a HOTLINE process is ensuring you are “connected at the
hip” with your survey partner. The customer satisfaction survey
firm Development II has been particularly supportive in this
process, in my experience of leveraging customer survey results as
a catalyst to improve customer satisfaction and increase revenue.
Establishing your HOTLINE criteria:
The next step to setting up a HOTLINE process is establishing
specific criteria for which a real-time response is warranted.
This could include: identifying keywords that a customer may use
when responding to the survey, or indicating that a customer
providing at least one response of “totally dissatisfied” to any
survey question is a qualified HOTLINE.
Additionally, the survey partner must be prepared to capture the
complete context of the customer's comment. There is nothing worse
for a dissatisfied customer than to go through a dissertation
during the survey, on their areas of concern, only to have you
call them and ask "so, why are you dissatisfied with our
Implementing a HOTLINE team:
You now need to define, within your organization, a team of people
empowered to effectively respond to your customer HOTLINES. This
includes ensuring the team has the ability to immediately [if
necessary] engage support personnel to resolve the customer’s
service issues. The HOTLINE team must also be prepared to initiate
the process to fulfill a customer’s requirement for new/additional
A customer’s dissatisfaction is in direct
proportion to the gap between what they “believe” they were to
receive and what they “perceive” they are receiving. This can be a
contractual gap or it could be based on a misunderstanding of what
they acquired. The HOTLINE team may need to explain that a
particular item or service was not included in their purchase or
lease. They should also be prepared to discuss how they may be
able to obtain this added level of service, if it is an available
option and they so desire it. This team, therefore, must be very
knowledgeable about your products and services as the appropriate
response may simply be to reset the customer’s expectations.
For many companies it makes sense to establish the HOTLINE process
such that service issues go to the Customer Care department, and
up-sell and cross-sell opportunities go to Sales.
The final step of the HOTLINE process is to produce management
reporting on a frequent basis; this insures that appropriate
attention is paid to your HOTLINES. Reporting should occur on at
least a monthly basis. Information on the HOTLINE report should
include the customer's company name, contact name, brief
description of the HOTLINE, when it was detected, when it was
initially acted upon by your HOTLINE team, when it was closed-out
and what the final resolution was.
Now you are ready to administer the customer satisfaction survey.
And, upon your survey partner sensing that a customer’s situation
warrants immediate response they can initiate the HOTLINE process.
They will know what criteria initiates this process, what
information they should capture and how to engage the appropriate
personnel in your organization to follow-up with the customer.
Effectively responding to HOTLINES uncovered in the survey process
simply requires a closed-loop process between your survey partner
and your firm. By so doing you have taken the necessary steps to
fulfill a customer’s unmet needs and respond to their concerns
that may have been previously unknown to your firm. In all cases
this is a win-win situation. Your customer’s level of satisfaction
will increase and you will have increased the measure of loyalty
they have with your firm.
The benefits of implementing and following a process such as this
Turning customer problems into new business opportunities
Demonstrating to the customer that you truly care about their
experience and are committed to taking immediate action to
Increasing customer satisfaction
Our next article, in the series on “Unlocking the value of your
customer satisfaction surveys”, will cover the topic of
implementing customer-focused changes.
Part 1 of this series can be viewed online at the following link:
Part 1: Measurement Principles