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Customer satisfaction measurement

X25_1_bottles4251473_19201.jpg Customer satisfaction measurement is used to monitor how well products or services meet customer expectations, and is a intrinsic component of quality management such as TQM, six-sigma and process control.

Many companies now just use a more simplistic Net Promoter Score (NPS) as an shorthand alternative to more complex customer satisfaction programs. However, we also provide fast, menu-driven customer satisfaction measurement, for full diagnostic information without the weight of long boring surveys.

Drivers for customer satisfaction measurement

Customer satisfaction measurement has its roots in an operational/production view of quality, that says that quality is measured as the gap between customers' expectations and their perceptions of the product or service they receive. In this view, quality is about conformance to standards to ensure the deliverable matches with customer expectations.

This quality of delivery view says that if you match customers' expectations, and so leave them satisfied, you have achieved the necessary product quality. Some companies go beyond this to look at examples of 'customer delight' aiming to exceed customer expectations.

In contrast, marketing and customer-focused researchers tend to want to measure not just the quality of the delivered product or service, but also the whole quality of the customer relationship. This can lead to a gap between an operational perspective focused on conformance, and research focused on broad halo issues around feeling and perceptions of the brand.

This can lead to a division between measuring satisfaction per product, or per service event, or measuring the whole product and service package say once a year.

In practice, customers can struggle to separate out general feeling towards a product or service, based on brand expectations and marketing, and the actual delivery of the product in terms of its functional performance. So care is needed in defining the objectives of a customer satisfaction study, in terms of how the data will be used, and how committed the company is to quality.

A short-circuit for customer satisfaction measurement at the relationship level is Net Promoter Score measurement - "So, out of ten, how likely are you to recommend this product or service to friends or colleagues?". Scores of 9 or 10 are counted as promoters and scores of 6 or less are counted as detractors. The net score (promoters - detractors) is then used to indicate company performance.

NPS is used because there is a trade-off between depth of measurement and time customers are willing to provide. However, our fast, menu-based customer satisfaction approach (using 'non-linear questionnaires') bridges the gap between depth and speed. Customers choose the areas they want to focus on, instead of working through long, boring lists. Happy customers can simply say they are happy overall, whereas delighted or unhappy customers can give feedback on the areas they see as important, from a menu of possibilities. In this way, customers prioritise the key issues for your business, without needing a long and tedious questionnaire.

When to ask and who to sample

For statistical process control (SPC) of production under total quality measurement (TQM) programme, the focus is on the output of the machine (or factory, or service operation) with a need to take a sample of items or service events to test for conformance. Measurement is thus event based and needs to be tied to production events.

However, customers who make a lot of purchases become less likely to respond to event-driven surveys over time. The important heavy-volume customers stop providing input, and surveys slowly drift to a bias of lower volume purchasers.

The compromise is also to take a sample of customers and to ask about their experiences over a certain period of time. Unfortunately for process control, this feedback typically just reflects the average view and will miss any key extremes that are important from an operational view. This then matches much more with the marketing-approach to customer satisfaction as a relationship measurement.

We help navigate the balance needed by the two approaches, with menu-driven customer satisfaction programmes supported by suitable sampling and monitoring. A menu-driven approach allows customers to use a one-click response to tell you everything is good, or to choose from menus to tell you where they are satisfied or dissatisfied in as much detail as they want to give.

In business-to-business markets, customers come in different sizes with different strategic value. Large accounts are too complex for simplistic customer satisfaction measurement, but it is essential to understand the views of the customer. We have tools for measuring service and relationship (QSR) that encourage dialogue beyond simplistic measurement, allowing for multiple contacts and deeper conversations.

These richer approaches extend to bid and project situations, where the deliverable may be complicated, customised or unique and approaches such as win-loss analysis working on a bid-by-bid approach is central to understanding business success.

For help and advice on carrying out customer satisfaction projects contact

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