11 Sep 12 Customer satisfaction study: Is it really a need?
“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all,” declares Michael LeBoeuf – so true a statement. After doing a few customer satisfaction studies I realized how important it is for companies to understand the needs of the customer, the challenges faced in using the products or services. This in turn helps them bring about a change in their offerings and also in formulating future strategies.
The companies after conducting these studies realized new requirements, true views on their products, challenges faced by the customers etc which they had not apprehended inspite of meeting the customers regularly. The study helped them formulate marketing and business strategies as they understood the customer needs from a different perspective. In addition, they became aware of the competitors that have an edge over them and vice versa.
I have noticed, in few of our customer satisfaction studies, the companies carry out these studies only when they realize that a competitor has taken a part of their share. These studies must not be done only when competitors are mushrooming but on a periodic basis to evaluate the customers’ views and their perception on the company’s offerings. The researcher and the company must assess the parameters on which feedback is required to design a robust questionnaire. Customer’s time is valuable therefore it’s necessary to design a questionnaire which helps in getting answers on all the parameters at one time.
The best approach and methodology for such studies is through comprehensive qualitative research. A short survey or the traditional numerical method is not sufficient for a company to understand the perception and satisfaction levels of customers. This will not help in making decisions or formulating strategies. Qualitative interviews help to capture the intangible impacts as well as assess the company in an accurate way.
The perceptions of the customers can be assessed on different parameters. Depending on what the company’s goal is, the parameters can be chosen.
For example, the graph below demonstrates how a customer rates the company on different parameters – product quality, customization of the product design, lead time, training and after sales service. The company wanted a true feedback on its product quality and the after sales service provided by them. Questions were framed to understand the opinion on product and its shortcomings as well as the lead time for the product delivery and after sales service.
After analysis of the client feedback, the company in a glance understood where it stands on the product quality (4) and after sale service (2) which helped them to work on their delivery as well as improve their after sales service.
A researcher undertaking a customer perception study must provide actionable intelligence that will help companies build on their business model and implement measures to improve performance.
As Mark Cuban said “This may seem simple, but you need to give customers what they want, not what you think they want. And, if you do this, people will keep coming back.” The best methodology is a customer satisfaction study. The companies we did the study for realized that inspite of them meeting with the clients every day the report gave them a different sensitivity of what the client actually needed.