Seven different ways to measure customer satisfaction

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We talk often of data and metrics in modern business, but I sometimes worry people don’t always really know what that means. Consider this headline from CIO Magazine: “C-Level Execs Value Data, Have No Idea What To Do With It.”

The fact is: your customers are an amazing source of information and data about how exactly your products and services are being perceived and treated. It’s a true competitive advantage to measure customer satisfaction in a variety of different ways.

Now, I want to make a quick caveat here: oftentimes, when you say something like “measure customer satisfaction”, it can lead executives to green-light a bunch of surveys and net promoter score assets. I believe customer experience needs to be far more holistic than that, but I also know you have deliverables and targets from your boss — and you need to meet those. That’s part of the reason I created leadership recipe cards.

So when you read this post, don’t think I’m exhorting the quick fix. I’ve been doing CCO work since 1983. I know how long it takes and how committed you need to be. But I also know that sometimes, with your boss expecting answers, you want some quick ideas for how to measure customer satisfaction. Here we go.

Measure customer satisfaction: Overall satisfaction surveys

It is possible to become too beholden to surveys, but it’s one effective measure of how your customers are perceiving your brand.

Measure customer satisfaction: Objective measurement approach

Here, you analyse historical records within your CRM. Some examples would be purchase scores or online behavior. You relate these back to elements of your business model, such as subscription renewals. This is well-detailed here, and is ultimately less about how to measure customer satisfaction and more about customer loyalty.

Measure customer satisfaction: The emotional aspect

This one is harder. We all know there’s a tendency to provide negative reviews when something isn’t good — and if something is good, you just don’t review it at all. (We’re busy people and can’t spend our whole lives reviewing every service we interact with.) But you canmeasure customer feedback, including dis-satisfaction. You should also absolutely reach out to people who weren’t happy and figure out where the touchpoint fell apart. It’s hard to get better at delivering customer experience if you ignore the failures.

Measure customer satisfaction: Client advisory groups

This is often a more-involved version of a focus group. In general, as that linked article notes, advisory boards are a much underused way to improve customer service, develop new services, and encourage repeat business. Even the smallest businesses can use them effectively.

Measure customer satisfaction: Repeat purchase intention

This is an old standby of customer service work. Here’s something else I’d add on this one. If you’ve been listening to my podcast, in every episode we discuss the importance of building your team and growing your employees. Many managers have missed this over time, but I think more are starting to catch up. That’s good! So, when you focus on “repeat purchase intention” as you measure customer satisfaction, also focus on the same metric for your employees. Here’s a quick example. Most companies I’ve seen don’t do a review of a new hire until 1 year. But the average tenure at jobs right now is about 4.5 years. 1 year is already 22 percent of the time an employee will work with you. Let’s do more 90 day reviews and figure out the “repeat purchase intention” of your employees — namely, do they plan to stay with you? It’s very important. You can’t keep reinventing and rebuilding your team.

Measure customer satisfaction: Industry benchmarks

This is an important one, but … don’t over-focus here. You want to know what your competitors are doing, yes. But within companies, we focus a lot of attention on our competitors. That energy would be better used towards our customers. Your customers mostly don’t care about brand rivalries or market positioning or that employee who jumped ship. They just want the best product/service possible. So use industry benchmarks and be aware of them, but don’t let this become all-consuming.

Measure customer satisfaction: First response time

In service-focused industries, sometimes this is called “first-time fix rate.” The idea is this: if your customers have to wait a long time to get their issue resolved, they will become annoyed. As annoyance grows, customer experience falls. So, you want to be solving problems quickly. If this metric is off, your revenues will be off that quarter/FY too. It’s a pretty direct way to measure customer satisfaction.

What other metrics/tracked elements to measure customer satisfaction would you add?

By the way, you can find a ton more about all this in my books.

About Jeanne Bliss

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