How to Increase and Improve Customer Satisfaction – CSAT
Improving Customer Satisfaction or ‘CSAT’ as we all tend to abbreviate it is now the Holy Grail of the marketer. Measuring how to increase and improve CSAT has become a science and often executive bonuses have an element aligned to CSAT increase.
What is Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)? How is it measured – surveys and questionnaires? And why is it perhaps more relevant now than it was 25 years ago?
In a nutshell, consumers have more information at their fingertips than ever with consumer surveys the default rather than the exception. The explosion of the availability of high speed Internet has made the world a much smaller place. Meaning that if I live in a little village in the Cotswold’s that only has 1 local supplier of horse riding attire I am no longer constrained to buy my goods from this supplier. I now have a choice. I can now shop from countess vendors around the world from the comfort of my front room. Yes price always places a part, but for non-consumables purchases, customer service is now the battle-ground.
Customer Satisfaction Indexes appear all over the place. There is an index for pretty much every type of vendor and service provider. There is even a customer service index for lawyers! Increasingly customers are choosing which supplier to buy from based on publicly available Customer Satisfaction feedback. Get high levels of CSAT or risk being usurped by suppliers who do. Customer Satisfaction Indexing is arguably THE most important metric for many non-commodity vendors.
Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, says: “Core ingredients of excellent customer service – employee competence, attitudes and behaviour – have become even more significant differentiators. Mass marketing or a ‘one size fits all’ customer experience is delivering diminishing returns and diluting valuable customer relationships. The insight we have gathered from this UKCSI identifies the components of excellent service and where strategic and operational effort should be focused to make further improvements.”
How then do you improve Customer satisfaction? Interesting that the first words used by Jo Causon when asked to define the core ingredients of excellence was “employee competence”. Interesting but not entirely surprising we think. At the end of the day, price being equal, what differentiates one supplier of pony blankets from another? Yes we could split (horse!) hairs and say supplier A has better return conditions or faster delivery options (pony express!), but what really differentiates business A from B is the knowledge and competence of their people. Effective training, knowledge retention perhaps? It manifests wherever the employees touch the customer journey. The more knowledgeable and capable the employee the better.
Training has a key role to play but training per se isn’t the answer. Creating a culture of “continual learning” where training is supported by a strategy for knowledge retention and employees are encouraged to learn and become valuable, loyal experts is the golden ticket.
Easier said than done for some firms, as most tend to pursue a culture of training rather than a culture of learning. Here we go splitting those horse-hairs again – not at al! Training doesn’t equal learning and most firms fall woefully short when it comes to ensuring that employees actually learn what is trained.
If you recognise that the future of your firm is going to be decided by customer satisfaction measures, publically available customer feedback and CSAT indexes, then you better get busy creating a culture of learning in your firm.
If you want to do it right and guarantee (financially guarantee) that what you deploy works then you should recruit Clever Nelly to your team. For a modest investment Nelly will form the backbone of your learning culture, show you where your employee knowledge and capability is weak and thus needs attention and where you have systemic strengths on which to build.
The silver bullet KPI is Customer Satisfaction and if you are not investing to ensure your staff provide exemplar levels of CSAT then your competitors will be gratefully harvesting your customers!