Friday, September 17, 2010

Customer Management System - Keeping the Customer Satisfied

Keeping the Customer Satisfied

Over 40 years ago, the singing duo Simon & Garfunkel offered their audiences an insight into the mysteries of customer satisfaction in their song 'Keep the customer satisfied' - including the lyric:
It's the same old story everywhere I go,
I get slandered, libelled,
I hear words I never heard in the Bible...
Just trying to keep my customers satisfied, satisfied...
According to Simon & Garfunkel, keeping your customers satisfied can be a thankless - even impossible - task. There is no doubt that 'customer satisfaction' is highly subjective but, according to Simon Rustom of customer management specialists Customer Consulting Ltd (CCL), it can be understood as a function of both expectations and perceptions. In essence, Rustom's view is encapsulated in the formula that: Customer Satisfaction equals Perceived Delivery divided by Expectations.
Rustom believes that expectations are shaped by customers' needs, their experience with other providers and their previous experience of your service. They are also shaped by marketing strategies, including branding and advertising, as well as by other communications.
He added that perceptions are the outcome of a customer's whole experience. This includes a complex mix of emotional and rational, conscious and unconscious aspects. This mix can be seen as a function of the delivery of the core service, the information provided in relation to this and the contact they have with people - both staff and other customers - during the experience.
"When there is a failure or disruption of service delivery, the customer's experience will be shaped - and either positively mitigated or negatively accentuated - by the customer's interaction with staff," he continued.
"When staff side with customers and blame their company in response to a delivery failure, the customer may end up with a positive perception of the staff but a worse perception of the company - which they will now blame entirely for the delivery failure."
Rustom and his colleagues at CCL focus on helping organisations - such as Aviva, BUPA, South West Trains and Orange - to optimise their return on investment in customer management. As part of this, they work with contact centres and customer-orientated information and technology.
CCL aims to demonstrate that a best practice approach to customer management delivers sustainable business growth - and ensuring that customer satisfaction levels remain high plays a large part in this.
Rustom commented: "As a specialist customer and change management company, we aim to deliver a combination of insight, intellect, wisdom and pragmatism - combined with a real understanding of people - to achieve commercial results that are beyond the norm. Using a joint project team approach, CCL offers advice and support to help companies develop and implement customer strategies that produce results."
When it comes to developing an effective customer contact strategy, CCL stresses the need to look at:
· The different dimensions of customer contact: where it takes place and its roles within different situations from a customer viewpoint,
· The impact of customer contact in terms of customers' experiences and how these translate into customer behaviours - such as recommendation to others and increasing consumption of the organisation's products and services - and how these affect the organisation's accounts and balance sheet, and
· Customer contact measures, as provided by the US-based customer experience agency TARP, and the Total Performance Scorecard (TPS) which is allied to Learn Six Sigma concepts.
The usual measures of customer satisfaction involve a survey with a set of statements using a Likert Technique or scale. The customer is asked to evaluate each statement and in term of their perception and expectation of performance of the organisation being measured.
"We have developed some spreadsheet business models to assess how customers' experiences and subsequent behaviours affect an organisation's financial position," said Rustom. "Our key message to our clients is that there is an opportunity to take a more proactive view of the role of customer contact and link targeted improvements to the impact on the bottom line.
"The key to achieving customer focus is to create alignment between the brand, the customers and the people in the organisation," he explained. "Ideally, an organisation's brand values are reflected in the organisational culture and the service experienced by its customers."
When it comes to identifying the elements needed in order to be a customer orientated organisation delivering continuous customer satisfaction improvement (CSI), Rustom believes that there are eight levels on which CSI needs to take place:
· Corporate strategy - establishing vision and direction: a commitment to customers
· Customer management and customer service strategy - thinking strategically about customers
· Business rationale for investment in customers - appropriate investment in customers
· Customer metrics included in a performance management system - establishing and managing customer targets and measures
· Group/ Division/ Company structure for co-ordinated CSI - co-ordinating the strategy across the enterprise so that it becomes more than the sum of its parts
· Customer information systems and contact processes - changing customers' perception of performance
· People initiatives and programmes - aligning staff's attitudes with the brand, via culture change, skills and attitude training
· Project management and implementation - making the strategy reality through effective implementation
"An unprecedented shift of power to the customer in recent years means that, to remain competitive, organisations need to optimise value from a range of interrelated 'customer management' disciplines: customer insight, value propositions, customer service, customer experience, relationship management, channel integration and so on," said Rustom. "Both piecemeal and technology-led approaches have not delivered value in this area.
Strategic, organisational and operational elements - involving people, process and technology - need to be aligned within a long term plan if organisations are to optimise success in keeping their customers satisfied."
Bob Little is Senior Partner at Bob Little Press & PR (, a UK-based business-to-business public relations consultancy which tells the truth as you want it told. He specialises in helping organisations - principally from the private, public and charity sectors - to tell their story to the people who need to hear it.
Currently, Bob writes for a number of publications and websites - including CheckPoint eLearning in Germany and eLearning magazine in the USA - and has chaired international conferences (on the subject of learning technologies) in the UK as well as in Sydney, Australia.

No comments:

Post a Comment