In tough economic times, how we serve our clients is more important than ever. One of the critical elements to serving our clients well is listening to them, not just before they buy but continuously during our relationship.

The suggestions I make below are things that should be kept in mind for all customer touch points whether it be a conversation or a more formal satisfaction survey.

Measure Success, Not Satisfaction

Many formal and informal feedback efforts measure softer metrics, like, “Do you like our staff” or “Are we easy to do business with.” They ignore the primary measurement, that being, did the product or service get the result desired. Of course this means that you must take the time with clients to understand what their terms of “results” or “success” are, hopefully this definition is done BEFORE a solution is proposed and ultimately purchased.

Sometimes Averages Lie

Sometimes a product or service is utilized by a large number of people with a wide range of expectations. If you do a formal numerical survey with them and aggregate all responses into one average score you may not see groups of users who are unsatisfied as they are balanced out by another group who may be super satisfied. My view is that world-class service organizations care about every individual evaluation and strive to understand how to best serve each customer.

Loyalty is Not Necessarily Satisfaction

If the true test of loyalty is how often we changed providers of a good or service then many providers have extremely loyal customers but sometimes that loyalty is all a fallacy. Why? If I have no alternative (like a cable TV provider) then I have no choice but to be loyal, even though I may not like the product or service at all. The true test of loyalty comes when you retain your customers when they have a real choice.

Don’t Get Lazy

Some measurement systems take on a life of their own, like car dealers who compensate their sales people based on satisfaction survey results. Even before the purchase is done they are hinting that only a perfect score will be acceptable. Or how about the hotel that has a “Service Guarantee” but can’t fix the running toilet you called them about. You used the free breakfast coupon for reporting it but the problem wasn’t solved. The point being if you have a process or system, remember its key purpose, to help you serve better.

Ultimately, the only way to make yourself and your business successful is to make your customers successful. Your service is the differentiator between you and your competitors. Make your service the priority starting today.



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