B2B International
B2B International

March 28, 2008

Matthew Powell

This week’s Thursday Night Insight comes from Senior Research Executive Matt Powell, who this week reflects upon how customer satisfaction research can go much further than just helping a company better meet its customers’ needs

Earlier this week I received a phone call from my mobile phone operator, which caused me to think for a moment about the importance and impact of listening to what customers have to say.

I have been with O2 since back in my student days when they were known as BT Cellnet – over the years I have been on what could be mildly described as a ‘rollercoaster ride’ in terms of my customer satisfaction.  From the feel-good days of unlimited free texts at the start of the new millennium, to the dark days of endless (and extremely expensive) calls to customer services.  For many years it seemed as though O2 was resting on its laurels – content with having its customers tied to contracts, yet not listening to what they had to say. 

In 2005, after a few years of customer service levels that almost drove me (and most other people I knew with an O2 contract) to leave the network, O2 announced they were to invest £18million in developing the customer services.  In short, they started on the road to performing quite an impressive u-turn

You might be wondering where I am going with this quasi-nostalgia, but earlier this week I received a phone call from O2 which caused me to think about how much my perception of the company and my satisfaction levels had changed over the years.  The phone call I received did not contain the up-selling or phone insurance deals that I had wrongly expected – instead the attendant briefly said that she could reduce my monthly rate and increase the number of free minutes I had.  Of course, that is always a good thing, yet the attendant informed me that I would receive a short customer satisfaction survey on my mobile after the call, and expressed her gratitude in my filling it in. 

As I was completing the survey, I thought a little more about my answers and my satisfaction levels and realised that despite the odds, O2 had managed to turn me from a very disgruntled customer into a very satisfied one. This, in turn, made me reflect further on the impact of the survey I was filling in.  By asking me to think about how I feel about the company, and by spending time to dwell on my thoughts, O2 had effectively forced me to think about how good they had just been to me in reducing my bill.  If they had not done this, this positive experience might have slipped past unnoticed.

For me it highlighted that listening to what customers have to say is not only essential to improving a business (ensuring that needs are being met), it also pays for the customer to feel that they are being listened to.