CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

Customer Satisfaction and Service Quality

SQIS stands for Service Quality Information Systems and describes the instruments necessary to evaluate customer satisfaction and service quality.

Customer satisfaction cannot be evaluated on the basis of a one-time measurement, nor can one individual method illuminate all of its many facets. Keeping this in mind, we offer a complete toolbox of techniques which lay open all relevant aspects of customer satisfaction. Below is an overview of the various techniques.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking means learning by understanding the competition.

The aim is to identify best practices within a specific branch or segment in order to recognize and eliminate vulnerabilities in one's own company.

  • raises the overall standard of the branch or segment
  • shows which procedures work best in order to recognize weaknesses in the own company
  • enables the tracking of changes and progress within own company (internal benchmarking)

Our role is to investigate the differences among several companies or competitors (for ex. the quality of customer assistance) as well as to survey changes taking place within a given time period within the company itself.

Customer Surveys

Customer surveys are the most common method to evaluate customer satisfaction. Customer surveys can:

  • measure attitudes of customers to your company
  • point to trends
  • evaluate the effects of your marketing activities
  • verify the success of your attempts to improve performance.

Mystery Shopping

Mystery Shopping is the chief method used to monitor the ways in which your salespersons/consultants interact with customers.

A genuine customer (or one who appears to be) is sent to a branch or outlet as a tester.

Utilizing this method it becomes clear whether salespersons act as they should, and whether the products you aim to sell are actually recommended at P.O.S..

More on Mystery Shopping

Employee Surveys

For various reasons, employee surveys are essential in evaluating customer satisfaction.

Employee as internal customer:

A company's employees find themselves in a type of customer-supplier relationship and can thus be seen as internal customers.

Employees as early warning system:

Thanks to their daily activities, employees may recognize vulnerabilities sooner as customers.

Conveys appreciation and trust to employees:

Measures implemented by management must be actively supported by employees.

Lost Customer Analysis

Lost customer analyses are utilized in particular for those clients or segments characterized by high turnover and profits. This type of analysis is the strongest weapon with which to recapture lost customers and/or to retain those customers who are presently considering switching.

Advantages:

  • Lost customer analyses have an extraordinarily high return on investment
  • customers who were almost lost may become extremely loyal if their problem with the company is solved
  • understanding the reasons why a customer switches enables a better understanding of the competition itself.

Perceptual Research

Perceptual research explores the ways in which your company is perceived, especially in contrast to competitors.

Surveying one's own customers exclusively may lead to a distorted picture of reality. Your own customers may be satisfied with your company, yet there may be a large number of customers with special needs who are extremely loyal to your competitors. Why is this so? Perhaps your competitor offers a range of features which you have not considered.

For this reason, this type of survey explores the attitudes of not only your customers, but also the customers of your competitors as well as other potential customers. In this way the actual market value of your company can be evaluated: not from the viewpoint of your own customers, but from that of the entire market.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are groups of 6 to 12 persons who meet in order to discuss a specific topic.

Possible areas of application include:

  • Tests: customers test products and services and provide feedback
  • Satisfaction: customers discuss the fine line between service experiences which are satisfactory and those which are unsatisfactory
  • Ad-hoc issues: customers offer their own ideas and approaches to solving problems with products and/or services.
  • etc.

Invent-the-Future Groups

Invent-the-Future groups are a special type of focus group. At issue here is not current problems, but rather consumers' attempt to "discover the future" in brainstorming sessions. What types of services will be demanded in the future? What can and should be offered?

Advisory Groups

While focus group participants meet only once, participants in advisory groups meet at regular intervals. Participants may be especially "valuable" customers who are given the opportunity to help develop products and services. In addition to the possibilities inherent in focus groups, this type of group provides the option of developing real partnerships with valuable customers.

Transaction Analysis

Transaction analysis means surveys which measure customer satisfaction in their daily interaction with the company. Transactions may feature contact with a person (e.g. the purchase of a cinema ticket at a cinema) or no contact (invoices).

The interview must take place as soon as possible following the transaction:

  • the customer can remember the transaction well and is able to describe any problems
  • problems may be solved immediately ("real-time solutions")
  • makes a good impression on the customer, who feels well looked after.

An illustrative example:

A customer has her car repaired and receives the invoice by mail. On the following day, the customer is contacted by phone and asked whether everything was OK; whether the information contained in the invoice was sufficient (if not, this may be immediately corrected); whether the customer is satisfied with the service; if there are suggestions for improvement.

New Customer Feedback

The first encounter a customer has with a product or service determines whether the customer will revisit or repurchase. This type of post-purchase survey aims above all to ascertain the level of satisfaction of this first encounter and to ease the way for a future relationship with the company.

This type of survey is structured much like a transaction analysis but is tailored to new customers. Here, the interview also must be carried out as soon as possible after the first encounter.

Example:

The customer purchases a high-end fax machine which supposedly can "do everything." However, the manual is so complicated that the customer cannot even get the machine hooked up properly. The customer will decide in favor of another product the next time (and likely one which he knows he can operate easily).

Complaint Analysis

For each unsatisfied customer who complains, there are nine who simply end their relationship with the company without a word. Each unsatisfied customer tells around 10 other people about their experience. Thus one complaint not handled correctly may lead to the loss of around 100 potential customers. We believe that these numbers, generated in an IBM survey, speak for themselves.

Complaint management may be an internal matter, but there are certain things which may be more efficiently explored outside the company.

© 2016 Hoffmann & Forcher