Improving Customer Satisfaction” How Surveys Can Help by Gina Kotz

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Ever wonder why customers stop being loyal?

Some companies or individuals never find out the answer to this, because their customers “silently leave.” Some dissatisfied customers have been heard to tell at least 10 other people about their bad experience. But they don’t bother to tell the company or individual that caused their bad experience.

These are a few of the topics brought up at the start of the ASQ two-day course for “Improving Customer Satisfaction” which I attended in Rosemont, IL on June 11-12, 2014.

Our helpful ASQ facilitator and trainer, Jeff Israel, also has extensive experience with customer satisfaction, and how to gauge customer satisfaction using surveys. As the owner of SatisFaction Strategies, LLC, Jeff calls himself a “Customer Satisfaction Fanatic.” He teaches ASQ courses as part of the ASQ Customer-Supplier Division (CSD), which is a division within ASQ’s specialties divisions related to Customer-Supplier topics. Other divisions related to CSD include the Service Quality Division, the Human Development Division, and the Leadership Division.

About 25% of the course included Jeff leading the participants with statistics and encouraging discussion about how and why customer satisfaction is strong when companies truly care about their customers’ experiences. Jeff covered the concept of “Moments of Truth.” A moment of truth is an interaction (large or small) that a customer has with a process or an organization, the outcome of which can either positively or negatively influence a customer’s opinion of that process or organization. The group doing the satisfaction study decides  focus on internal and/or external.

The other 75% of the course included group exercises and a high-level discussion of how surveys, when well written and well conducted, can yield big results to companies who are willing to listen and act on their customers’ inputs. Since our class size was small (about five of us from a good mix of fields and disciplines), we had quicker gains in learning and more meaningful sharing of experiences, a nice bonus.

Surveys help customers communicate what an organization does well, and what it could do better (based on surveying on various moments of truth.) Organizations and individuals can come away with actionable items to assure changes lessen or eliminate negatives opinion, and, instead, increase the positives aspects of a customer’s experience.   Improved customer satisfaction is the end result.

I was also able to draft a survey that I will eventually apply to my work back at the office, for surveying my internal customers. I plan to gauge my effectiveness as a technical writer, and gauge the effectiveness of the documentation creation, review, and production process.

One interesting takeaway from this class is that customers might have one opinion about people with whom they worked resulting in one kind of customer reaction (positive or negative,) and then customers might have an entirely different (or even the same) opinion about the process. Customer satisfaction with people and satisfaction with process are both important and vastly different data points to work consider for overall customer satisfaction improvement.

Jeff Israel is an energetic presenter, and he encouraged participation all along the journey on this subject. I appreciated also receiving a free book for taking this course, Improving your Measurement of Customer Satisfaction, by Terry G. Vavra.

The next time you wonder why customers stop being loyal, ask yourself, “Are we being loyal to the items that actually matter to our Customers?” and “Do we know what our Customers really want from us—and from our processes?”

Gina Kotz, CSQE
Gina is a Lead Technical Writer at GE Healthcare Specialty Solutions