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Looking for customer satisfaction

Let's not be too cynical about it - most organisations are in business to make money. But research has shown that there is no direct relationship between customer satisfaction and profitability. Even those companies with a massive management focus on customer service aren't necessarily successful at it - yet having happy customers seems to be a simple matter of common sense.

However, the research did show that those organisations that enjoy high customer satisfaction and strong profitability had certain common characteristics; they were doing broadly similar things whatever business sector they were active in. So, what good practice should your organisation demonstrate if it is to deliver high customer satisfaction and make money? Our four-point plan would include:

  1. A thorough, even intimate appreciation of each customer and their situation or business. What drives satisfaction; what are the attributes of service the customer most values; what are the customer expectations of service providers in general and of your organisation in particular? What will make you better than the rest?
  2. A senior management focus and palpable commitment to raising and sustaining high levels of customer satisfaction throughout the organisation.
  3. Internal consensus and action throughout the organisation in support of a thorough customer service ethic.
  4. A readiness to adapt service delivery to the specific needs of each customer, both through "front office" (customer service) and "back office" (after-sales service) functions.

The service you provide to your customers is crucial to your business success. Your competitors may provide good customer service, so you need to understand what, from the customers' point of view, constitutes exceptional customer service.

The starting point is to manage customer expectations - fail to understand these and you may never win the customer. Satisfied customers, meeting customer expectations, will not be enough; you need to delight your customers. If you do, they will recommend you to their friends and colleagues.

Finally, should your organisation fail a customer, you'll need to work out the best way to deal with customer complaints.

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