Turning Customer Satisfaction into Bottom-Line Business Results


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Every business has access to an important source of data that can power significant growth and open up new opportunities: its customers’ feedback. And yet most companies only capture that feedback through ad hoc or one-off surveys, with haphazard follow-up to address problems uncovered by customer input.

Any company can benefit from a more systematic approach to implementing surveys, so it can receive customer feedback on a regular basis and then use that data to resolve issues. But the most successful customer-centric organizations are implementing Enterprise Feedback Management systems (EFM) to capture customer feedback in real time as well as with ad hoc surveys, then act upon that input in ways that benefit both its customers and its business results. EFM systems can help businesses immediately capture customer opinions, proactively respond to issues, and provide the insight to establish a clear direction even in an uncertain business environment.

Customer data alone isn’t power; it’s what businesses do with the data they collect that helps them grow. SimplexGrinnell, a leader in the fire and life-safety industry, is an example of how using customer feedback can help companies build exceptional customer relationships. Those relationships have translated directly to solid business results and new revenue opportunities.

Customer data alone isn’t power; it’s what businesses do with the data they collect that helps them grow.

Historically, the company had gathered customer feedback informally via business reply cards, with inconsistent results. After engaging with MarketTools, Inc. for a customer satisfaction solution, the business has been able to more effectively solicit customer feedback, measure response, and improve customer experiences to realize tremendous ROI.

Today, SimplexGrinnell’s EFM solution enables them to constantly monitor customer satisfaction across 150 local offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, and handle 10,000 customer surveys a year. They are able to quickly identify customer issues and solutions, and even anticipate needs for additional or new services– sometimes before the customer has even voiced them. A follow-up Customer Satisfaction Annual Report shows that SimplexGrinnell’s customer satisfaction has risen 210% since the new solution was deployed.

“We’ve learned that increasing customer satisfaction generates new business in ways you wouldn’t predict, said Jim Spicer, President of SimplexGrinnell. “When we identify and solve a customer’s problem quickly, that customer becomes an advocate for us.”

Based on MarketTools’ knowledge in launching “Voice of the Customer” programs for its own clients, it has broken down the nine steps every company needs to take when working with an EFM provider develop a successful customer feedback process. These nine steps were implemented by SimplexGrinnell, and can be initiated by any company looking to standardize and improve its customer feedback program.

Step 1: Identify and prioritize customer feedback groups

Decide whether you want to gather feedback from customers overall, by segment, or by touch point. Customer touch points may include purchase decisions (win/loss), product delivery and installation, product usage, support center, field service, online transactions, and professional services engagements. If you segment by vertical market, product type, customer revenue range, or some other criteria, you may want a separate feedback process for each segment. Prioritize combinations of customers and touch points by estimating their impact on revenue and profit.

Step 2: Determine the performance metrics you wish to measure for each customer feedback group

Identify the most concise set of metrics that drive customers’ overall satisfaction, loyalty, or commitment, with minimal overlap among the metrics you want to measure. For example, if you are developing feedback processes for support, sales, and professional services, you may want to measure courtesy, speed of problem resolution, and representatives’ product knowledge.

Step 3: Identify and prioritize internal users and their feedback requirements

Individuals’ needs for detailed data, advanced analytics, and performance feedback will vary widely throughout your company. Broadly speaking, account execs, service managers and reps need to receive alerts when specific customers are dissatisfied; mid-level managers need to be able to analyze detailed information; and senior execs need to monitor trends and performance. All levels of management need to be involved in managing responsive actions. Continuous improvement requires continuous feedback.

Step 4: Design feedback processes that address your requirements
Developing your feedback processes includes designing survey questionnaires; creating personalized communications to invite, remind, acknowledge, and thank your customers; and specifying the variables that describe your customers so you can segment and analyze feedback.

Questionnaire “real estate” is precious—beyond key performance metrics, you should only ask questions that have significant impact on your company’s success and are actionable. Customer information that is available in corporate databases and any relevant survey information previously gathered should not be asked again. Personalize surveys, survey communications, internal alerts and action management cases with the customer data you have.

Step 5: Use a dashboard to track and analyze feedback

A dashboard is an interactive display that delivers continuous, up-to-the-moment feedback analytics and intelligence to the right users in your company, enabling their immediate action. Your dashboard should map every survey question response to statistics and trendlines, so your reports and alerts provide the customer information your business needs to pinpoint problems, opportunities, and responsive actions. It may also integrate with a customer database or CRM system to provide context and segment results.

Step 6: Project your needs for ad hoc surveys

Many of your customers will readily provide feedback to your company. But repeated ad hoc or one-time surveys—on topics such as new product features, service policies, or price structures, for example—make demands on customers’ time and attention. Carefully plan the number of ad hoc surveys your company will conduct over the next twelve months in consideration of the amount of feedback your customers will be willing to provide.

Step 7: Determine customer touch rules

Touch rules determine when, and for which surveys, customers are invited to provide feedback. They also enforce opt-out preferences for individuals who do not wish to be surveyed. Set your touch rules with the following four objectives:

  1. Ensure that enough customers respond to make results statistically significant
  2. Protect customers from being over-surveyed
  3. Ensure that customers are asked for only the most valuable feedback
  4. Control acknowledgement and follow-up with the customer

Step 8: Design action management
An action management process sets business rules so you can automatically red-flag issues as customer feedback comes in, assign a response to an individual or team, take action with either an immediate solution or a longer-term plan to address the issue, and keep your customer informed during the process. Establish an action management process to assure that your customer concerns are dealt with systematically—which helps you protect customer relationships and build loyalty.

Step 9: Review and refine
Over time, your customers’ needs may change and new customer segments may emerge. Or your company may change business direction, product lines and market strategies. As requirements, processes, customer touchpoints, and performance metrics evolve, you need to make sure these changes are reflected in your survey questionnaires and feedback processes.

Using the nine steps outlined above to implement a responsive customer feedback program with a robust EFM system, companies like SimplexGrinnell are boosting their bottom line by improving customer satisfaction. By gathering real-time customer feedback and promptly following up on issues and problems, any company can improve the customer experience—and ultimately increase revenue opportunities by building customer commitment, retention, and advocacy.


Justin Schuster will share more insights on this topic on a CustomerThink Viewpoint webinar:
Using Social Media To Enhance Your Customer Feedback Program


  1. This is an excellent post with a powerful reminder that data alone doesn’t create success. It’s what you do with it! Bravo to that.

    I offer only one extra cautionary reminder –> “In your zeal to collect data and monitor channels to convert to success, don’t turn the customer service contact point into a scripted interaction just to ensure the flow of data.”

    In other words, there is too much front line customer service sounding scripted and robotic just to facilitate the metrics process. If the contact doesn’t sound sincere and original, you will lose customers.

    Here’s a post to help all frontline staff soar to excellence when connecting with the customer:

    I will RT your post on Twitter. It offers so much to the customer service and experience dialogue.

    Best wishes,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach


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