What Makes a Great Customer Satisfaction Program?


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The world of customer satisfaction (CSAT) measurement has evolved over the past 10 years, largely spurred on by technology. It’s evolved from:

  • point-in-time to real-time,
  • anonymous to linked,
  • brick-and-mortar to multi-channel, and
  • available to key players to actionable across the whole organization.

Each of these technological evolutions has benefited the two main stakeholders. First, the company that needs the data to learn and improve and, second, the customers who need to know that a company genuinely cares about them. Let’s consider the needs of both the company and the customer on the way to building a great CSAT program.

Shape Strategy. Companies need customer satisfaction information to shape their strategy. Once they understand which types of products and brands, and what types and levels of service people want in-store and online, they can align their strategies to meet those needs.

Track Performance. Companies need customer satisfaction data to set clear targets and track success. CSAT data can be a quick way to identify stores that might be top performers as well as those that might be underperforming. Strategies can then be revised accordingly.

Enable Execution. Companies need CSAT data to develop store-specific recommendations that managers can act on. Whether that means adding a seating area or eliminating excessive distractions, tactical areas of improvement can be identified and resolved at store-level.

To enable these outcomes, CSAT programs must meet these requirements.

  • Actionable: CSAT data must be tied to both the brand and the store, thereby allowing clear takeaways for all entities. Consumer responses must also be tied to specific transactions (e.g., POS, CRM) so that the right employees can provide specific feedback to specific people.
  • Interactive: Ideally, CSAT data should be shared real-time. As customer experiences vary from day to day, month to month, and event to event, reporting must be live and offered, ideally, via an easy-to-use dashboard.
  • Holistic: Customer service data is not in a silo of its own. It must be considered in conjunction with relevant data sources to triangulate and explore. Thus, CSAT data should be shared along with brand health data, in-the-moment feedback tools, and include metrics from all channels including retail, visitor centres, the website, and eCommerce.
  • Sustainable: The entire program must be reviewed at least annually to ensure it generates ROI and actionability, and continues to be relevant to the current state of business.

What Do People Want From CSAT?

Speed. With so many far more important things in their lives, people have little patience for third party experiences that aren’t quick. Customer satisfaction tools need to take less than a minute, whether online or offline.

Context. People can tell whether you genuinely care about them based on the quality of the questions asked. Ensure the questions are specific to their unique experience on that day, whether it was a new purchase, a return, or a loyalty card request.

Resolution. Customers know that you’re asking for their opinion in order to fix or improve something. As such, every request for a follow-up must be respected by providing appropriate feedback even if the most you can do is listen with empathy.

To enable these outcomes, CSAT programs must meet these requirements.

  • Multi-Platform: People must be able to complete the questionnaire using their method of choice (e.g., email, cash register tape, kiosk, website), and their device of their choice (e.g., mobile, laptop, iOS, Android, Ubuntu, Linux, Windows).
  • Flexible: People must be allowed to complete a questionnaire on their own time, not immediately upon receipt, and certainly not while they are in the middle of doing something else.
  • Rewarding: People must receive some type of reward for helping you learn more about your business. Whether that’s a discount or loyalty points, prove to your customers that you genuinely value the opinions they’ve shared with you.

If you’d like help creating an effective and engaging customer satisfaction program unique to your company, please get in touch with me!

Annie Pettit, Ph.D. FMRIA
Annie Pettit, PhD, FMRIA is a research methodologist who specializes in marketing and research design and strategy. She is an invited speaker at conferences around the world and has published refereed and industry articles. She won a Ginny Valentine Award, ESOMAR Excellence Award for the Best Paper, MRIA Award of Outstanding Merit, and ESOMAR Best Methodological Paper. Annie blogs at LoveStats, tweets at @LoveStats and is the author of "People Aren't Robots" and "7 Strategies and 10 Tactics to Become a Thought Leader" both available on Amazon.


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