Customer Satisfaction and Market Intelligence

Regardless of size or industry,there is hardly a company, that does not measure Customer Satisfaction. It seems to be clear to most people that Customer Satisfaction is a predictor of business success because customers, who have choice, will not stick around if they are consistently disappointed with products or services provided to them. Regulated monopolies are excluded, but even they measure Customer Satisfaction for reasons that defy explanation.

The correlation (or causation) between customer satisfaction and profitability, revenue growth, and equity shares performance, is relatively well documented. I did not provide any links to these studies because each one makes it sound that customer satisfaction measurement methodology is the most important factor in the success of the subject’s study. I happen to believe that the key to any business’ metric improvement is caused by improvement of the customers experience, properly measured as a customer satisfaction.  In other words, how you measure it is less important than what it is you are measuring, and most importantly whether the company is committed to action based on these measurements.

If the previous paragraph seems obvious and self-explanatory to you, it is perhaps because you are not aware that many companies measure customer satisfaction without clear definition of the metric and a plan for action. There are a few good reasons for this unfortunate state of affairs:

  • Regardless of a scale one selects to use, there is a lot of ambiguity on what exactly the results are “telling” to people outside of a Market Research department. The only exception is NPS® methodology (Net Promoter Score) and that explains its popularity in executive suites.
  • Absolute measurements of Customer Satisfaction are meaningless. Whether your customers are 100% satisfied with your product, or rate your service with 4.25 stars on the Liekert scale, or profess their Net Promoters intentions at .35 NPS – it makes you feel good only as long as you don’t know that a competing product scores 25% higher.
  • The score itself is just a tip of the proverbial “iceberg”. The scores, without a root cause analysis, cannot provide actionable intelligence. Considering that many companies in reality “listen” and score brand affinity/sentiment, as opposed to customer satisfaction with specific product or service, no specific action is even possible.

I would like to suggest that measuring customer experience versus customer expectation with specific elements or attributes of their experience is a more meaningful and actionable strategy. Subsequent benchmarking of these results against competitors, can support well-informed decisions for improving profitability and growth.

“NPS®, Net Promoter and Net Promoter Score are registered trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld.”

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