There is something inherently unsatisfying about satisfaction. As Tom Porter has too often been quoted as saying: what you need is to wow your customers; mere satisfaction is not enough.
In practice, of course, the customer satisfaction research industry has long recognised that it has a problem demonstrating it’s real value to companies – but it has also discovered that companies have also discovered that companies have an almost insatiable appetite for their survey. Fuelled by the rise in CRM, satisfaction measurement has risen very rapidly up the corporate ‘to do’ list. If you aren’t monitoring customers’ experience at all possible touchpoints, you risk losing them when and where you least expect it. What’s more, you miss out on a valuable tool for motivating, training or (worst case) dismissing employees in every area of the company.
The problem, of course, is to translate the findings from these surveys into a meaningful relationship with financial or even marketplace performance. What do enhance scores on the survey mean for the bottom line, or market shares?
It is no surprise that good minds have been devoting a lot of thought to questions like these, and their answers range from the complex, expressed in several pages of inscrutable regression analyses and multi-variable equations, to the simple – all you need do is ask whether your customers would recommend your product or service to anyone else.
Increasingly, there is a developing consensus among researchers and analysts that while some single measures are better than others, multiple measures offer a better chance of both genuinely assessing customer satisfaction and of being able to identify any necessary remedial action. So the question for anyone planning a new customer satisfaction survey becomes not so much ‘What must I ask?’ as ‘What should I leave out?’
As our series of white papers shows research into customer satisfaction impinges on several other areas of research – such as tracking studies – and involves consideration of a range of theoretical issues, stating with the key one of what exactly is meant by, and what exactly drives brand loyalty.