Monitoring Customer Satisfaction is a Requirement of ISO 9001
How to Monitor cust9mer satisfaction. It is a requirement of the ISO 9001 standard that the organization will monitor customer satisfaction and your Quality Management System should include a process for addressing this requirement. The standard is not prescriptive, it does not tell you how to monitor customer satisfaction. There are different methods for monitoring customer satisfaction and each organization should adopt the method that is most applicable to the organization.
Definition of Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is defined as the extent to which product or service have meet customer expectations and the level to which the product or service met customer’s needs. Monitoring customer satisfaction is vital strategic and management tool.
Why Monitor Customer Satisfaction
There quite a number of reasons why a business would wish to track and monitor customer satisfaction. An on-going customer satisfaction program is critical for making informed management decisions regarding product and service enhancements, sales activities and diversification and differentiation. Understanding customers’ needs and expectations, how customers behave and what influence their decision making is critical for continuously improving business services and products and gaining competitive advantage
Another reason for monitoring customer satisfaction has to do with customer retention. Acquiring new customers is quite expensive as it often involves the business spending money over marketing and sales activities. However, retaining an already satisfied customer is far cheaper, they already recognise value in the business’ offering and have proven this by spending their hard-earned money on the business’ products and services.
High customer satisfaction has positive effect on your brand and can increase your client base. Satisfied customers become your advocates and encourage others to use your services or products. Research has found that word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising.
Methods for monitoring customer satisfaction
The key is to ensure that the business has methodologies in place to successfully monitor and measure their customers satisfaction signals. There are a number of ways in which this can be achieved.
Here are the most common methods for monitoring customer satisfaction:
- Customer satisfaction surveys
- Post-delivery questionnaires
- Phone calls or meetings
- Social media
Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Customer satisfaction surveys are a rather standard method of collecting data on overall impressions of the business. The key is to ask the correct questions in order to get the desired data results. Surveys are a great tool of doing just that, and they can be deigned to get all sorts of customer information.
Most customer satisfaction surveys are divided into three sections. The first section, usually labelled “section A” is the demographics page. Here you are trying to get to know your customer on a personal level, so questions about race, religion, hobbies, name, last name, location, and perhaps income are quite prominent in this first section. The second section usually consists of a rating system, where a statement is asked and the customer is required to give their rate of satisfaction, where for example, 1 is not satisfied and 5 is very satisfied. The important part here is using statements that are specifically linked to customer satisfaction on the business’ products and services.
The final section of the survey is usually open-ended questions where customers are given the platform to write down their own opinions. This is where the business will really get to know what the customer is thinking and feeling towards the business’ offerings.
It is important to ensure that whatever survey format that it avoids being long-winded and tedious to read. Customers tend to be quite busy people with places to be and things to do, so make sure the survey isn’t time consuming. The delivery method of surveys also needs to be strategic and there are three ways in which you can get customers to do so which are via in-app, post-service or email mediums. Depending on the timing, each one may need to be adjusted. Post-service surveys need to be quite short as customers are often in a hurry and won’t have time to fill these in. Email and in-app surveys tend to be the most thorough as customers can execute them in their own time and often in the comfort of their own space.
Furthermore, businesses can opt to buy customer survey development software available online or in app stores for free or for a fee. Companies can also create their own surveys through free software such as Google docs. It would be in the business best interest, especially if they wish to integrate the survey into their email server or website to consult a professional or at best make use of affordable software and systems.
Customer surveys have many limitations. Surveys are conducted once a year or every second year. Hence, they are only useful for business with on-going long term clients. Due to the low response rate (rate can vary between 15% to as low as 2% ) survey is useful for business with large client base. To make things worse, it was found that when used regularly, response rate drops
We can collect customer feedback by sending a questionnaire with the product or after the delivery of the service. This could be a form sent with the product or a link in an email.
Unlike customer satisfaction surveys which are used for collecting data on overall impressions of the business, this method is useful for collecting specific feedback on the service delivery or the quality of the product. This means on-going information regarding customers’ needs and wants unlike periodic surveys.
Phone calls or meetings
Collecting customer feedback can be done throughout the delivery of the service or post-delivery, using a predefined questionnaire or as an open discussion. This method is applicable when management or sales representatives have close relationship with clients.
Measuring customer satisfaction via phone or meeting provides invaluable opportunity ask open questions and get a better understanding of client needs. The disadvantage is that you may not get an honest feedback (unlike the survey which provides an option for the customer to remain anonymous).
Unlike sending a form, phone calls and meetings are time consuming and therefore expensive. One strategy to reduce costs is sampling. Sampling is the process of selecting customers from your client database. In practical terms this means periodically selecting a fix number of customers, or a percentage of customers from your total client database. By studying the sample you can fairly generalize your results back to your client database.
Social media has become somewhat of a phenomenon in today’s world. Not only has it created jobs over the last decade that no one even knew would exist, but has also drastically changed the way in which businesses acquire information on their customers. Social media is the place where everyone shares their opinions on everything, including brands and business services and offerings.
Instead of having to go directly to the customer for updates, feedback and information, the customer now comes to the business and gives it to them. This could be either through a rating on the business’ Facebook or a direct tweet or post at the organisation. The difficult part about keeping track of customer satisfaction feedback on social media is that it occurs in a rather informal way. This means that businesses may have to dig deeper for more information about demographics and location. The point is that social media feedback is often quite random and not formal, making it hard to assess or analyse. However, it can be monitored closely through bearing; by getting a general idea of what the customer feels about the business.
Another advantage of using social media as a method to track customer satisfaction is the quick reach to over millions of people who use the business’ products. It also gives businesses a free advertising platform through word of mouth through the use of sharing, and reposting. There are also great ways to track social media activity such as through google alerts and social mentions.
Using social media as the only method for monitoring customer satisfaction has some limitations. You have no control over the validity of the information. You don’t know who provides the feedback. You cannot ask the questions so you have no control over what information is provided.
Author: Avital Koren
Avital is passionate about small business and working with entrepreneurs. She was the first to identify and address the needs of small businesses in management systems.
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