Guest Column | November 30, 2016

What The Customer Wants: Focus On Correct Measurements To Improve Satisfaction

Omnichannel Customer Care

By Nancy Van Elsacker, president, TOPdesk US

When you want to focus on the customer and improve customer satisfaction, it is important to correctly measure customer satisfaction. This grants insight into the customer’s wishes and points on which you can improve your services.

Carrying out a customer satisfaction survey not only makes the supporting department aware of the points for improvement and customer wishes; the customer also feels that they’re taken seriously and involved with the department. The customer feels he is heard and will appreciate the changes the department makes as a result of the investigation. Just the fact you ask his or her opinion helps improve your services and customer satisfaction.

What Are You Going To Measure?

When measuring customer satisfaction, two questions are key:

  • Are we doing the right things? Many organizations make use of a customer satisfaction survey to determine whether they deliver the correct services. What is important to the customer? Are certain services superfluous? Are there services or products missing that customers would like to see?
  • Are we doing things right? A customer satisfaction survey also can grant insight into your department’s performance. What are the good points and which services or products can be improved? In addition, the survey results make clear which points for improvement must be given priority. Which points should be improved immediately?

How Are You Going To Measure?

There are different ways and methods to measure the customer satisfaction within your organization. These measurements can be combined to achieve a complete overview of the customer satisfaction and any points for improvement.

A couple examples include the customer panel, customer effort score, and periodic measurement. A customer panel lets you enter into discussion with a small group of customers. This is particularly effective during the development of the service catalogue or the development of a new project. By sitting with your customers, you can immediately experience how they respond to new ideas.

With a customer effort score, you measure the customer satisfaction throughout the entire year and continuously request feedback on your services and products. You do this, for example, by asking a customer about the satisfaction immediately after delivering a service or resolving their problem. This measures the customer satisfaction for one specific service.

Periodic measurement, on the other hand, is normally carried out once a year. The total customer group is addressed and it evaluates the complete service provision. This survey measures aspects that apply to the entire service provision, such as communication. A periodic measurement uses open and closed questions. Closed questions give you a score. Open questions often give specific points for improvement and ideas from your customer. In many cases these points for improvement can be closely related to your score on specific components.

The Results

After carrying out a customer satisfaction survey you naturally want to put the feedback into practice. The results of the surveys can be divided into two categories: quick wins and complex changes.

  • Quick wins: The customer satisfaction survey most likely leads to changes that are easy to implement. By quickly applying these simple improvements, you show the customer you take the received feedback seriously. Experience shows us this leads to many positive reactions and motivated employees.
  • Complex changes: Other points for improvement will cost more time. A change project could be set up for major modifications. It is important to not think too lightly about the change and to remain focused on the final objective. This is another perfect opportunity to involve the customer in the process, using a customer panel for instance.

Customer Satisfaction Measurement As A Foundation

A customer satisfaction survey forms the basis for improvements within the support departments. Carrying out a baseline measurement, therefore, provides a good starting point, for instance, when developing a service catalogue or implementing Knowledge Centered Support.

In this way you get to know the requirements and points for improvement before you start a process, but you also create support for the changes that you want to implement.

What Can You Improve?

When looking for ways to improve, there are several steps that can be taken, from training staff and changing the way you interact with customers, even internal customers. Additionally, there are a number of regularly occurring issues that you can take to improve your organization:

  • Customer-friendliness: Every organization communicates in a friendly manner with its customers — and this also applies to internal customers. Being friendly during a telephone conversation or in an email is an additional service, ensuring the customer is happy to contact you with questions or to place an order. This is your objective. After all, without this internal customer the support department has no right to exist.
  • Empathy: Many customers who contact a support department have a specific problem for which they need a solution. This problem is an interruption to their daily work. Showing you understand the problem can mean a lot to the customer. You can do this directly, for instance, by saying you find it very unfortunate the customer has a problem. You can, however, also say this implicitly. By sending status updates, you let customers know what you’re working on, and it also shows them you understand they’re waiting for a solution and that the situation is unfortunate.
  • Transparency: Manage customer expectations by being transparent. For instance, communicate in advance your customers can’t contact you with questions about an operating system you don’t support, and point them to an alternative. This ensures they’re not disappointed when you can’t help them further. Furthermore, it is important to confirm you have received a request and when you expect to be able to deliver a product or resolve a problem. Transparency keeps the customer satisfied, also when you cannot deliver.

Nancy Van Elsacker is president of TOPdesk US, a global supplier of IT service management software and solutions. Prior to launching TOPdesk’s North American division in 2015, she led the organization’s expansion efforts in Belgium for eight years and was responsible for the startup and expansion of TOPdesk’s operations there. TOPdesk develops, markets, implements and supports standard user-friendly service management software for IT, facilities management, HR, maintenance, complaints registration and the service desk for all sized organizations.