Time to Reassess Customer Satisfaction Tracking

We’ve likely all been there.  Whether it’s after a customer service phone call, a visit to an automotive dealership or even a resort, a sales person or customer facing agent has subtly or directly encouraged you to respond to a pending customer satisfaction survey with the highest rating possible.  And chances are, if we are kind and rational people we will either acquiesce to or ignore this request, unless we’ve truly had an infuriating experience. The service organization can then “check the box” that they are measuring customer satisfaction and blindly and often incorrectly conclude that everything is just fine and dandy…or that the handful of blistering reviews are indicative of a pervasive organizational problem.  It’s not all that different than relying upon online message boards or customer reviews, where the rantings or gushings of the vocal minority is often surrogate for good insights  Of course, as researchers, we realize that such a conclusion is often totally wrong and a disservice to both customer and the organization deploying this process.

This quick and cheap feedback is not all dissimilar to the recent trend towards one question kiosks in restrooms or other public places.  Our firm has actually had experience in reviewing some of this data, and to no surprise the result is bi-modal…responses are either glowingly positive or fiercely negative. This makes perfect sense.  Such “surveys” utilize convenience samples and are typically driven by technology solutions that fail to consider the nuance of well crafted customized surveys and methodologies that probe deeper for real insights and carefully consider a representative sample so as to gain a more robust and accurate snapshot of customer service efforts. As a profession, we need to continue to fight against these short cuts that create misinformation.  From my firm’s perspective as a custom shop, we fight against this all too often.  These cookie cutter satisfaction measurement platforms will inevitably cost the organizations who deploy them a lot of really strong and nuanced insight into their customers in the process. Furthering the irony is that several of the solutions currently available are not inexpensive.

At our firm we’ve actually built customized programs that not only objectively measure real time customer satisfaction for leisure properties, but also integrate digital customer comment and response mechanisms that work in tandem with feedback loops and loyalty management programs that allow clients to prioritize feedback by customer recency, frequency and lifetime value, among other segmentation variables deemed important by the client.

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