Author: Byron Pulsifer, © 2017
You can't talk to many people today without the subject of customer
satisfaction coming to the forefront. It wasn't that many years ago
when customer service
was not only what most people would
argue was much better but was the normal. So, what has happened to
one's satisfactory experiences when dealing with the new companies of today?
How Is Customer Satisfaction Defined
Before we can adequately talk about the subject of customer satisfaction,
we have to first of all define what it is. Here are a few examples
of definitions that are used to describe what customer satisfaction means:
1) It is a measure of how products and services supplied by a
company meet or surpass customer expectation, or
2) The degree of satisfaction provided by the goods or services
of a company as measured by the number of repeat customers, or
3) The number of customers, or percentage of total customers,
whose reported experience with a firm, its' products, or its' services exceeds specified satisfaction goals, or
4) It is a term used to describe a scenario when an exchange meets
the needs and expectations of its user.
What Do These Customer Satisfaction Definitions Mean?
As you can see, there are multiple definitions concerning the same action,
i.e. service to a customer, where the end result of the exchange
generally leads to either being satisfied with one's experience or
being dissatisfied with one's experience. One of the main ingredients
of all of these definitions is that there must be a human exchange
before a customer satisfaction score can be given. Well, maybe
the latter statement is incorrect. Let's take a closer look at the
components of what constitutes customer satisfaction.
When I referred to the necessity of a human interaction occuring
before one can rate or score as to the level of customer satisfaction
experienced, I was thinking of a situation where one person,
i.e. the customer, interacts with another person, i.e. the retailer
or supplier of a service or product. Here we have an example that
we can all understand when two people meet face to face and it is the
resultant interaction that forms the customer experience. So far so good.
But, what happens when a person is forced to interact with a computer
software program? Does the addition of interacting with a computer
software program, and eliminating a person to person request, for
example ordering a product online, enhance or diminish a possible
satisfactory customer experience? Well, you've probably had great
or not so great levels of satisfaction when you've ordered something online.
But, here's what I've experienced first hand and maybe you've felt the
How Do I Talk To A Real Person?
In past months, I have had ocassion to be dissatisfied with an online
shopping experience and wanted to speak with a customer service
representative to rectify the situation. Many times, however, not only
was it difficult or impossible to find a support email, it was impossible
to speak to a real human being. It would appear, in a lot of cases,
that true customer service has been replaced with an attitude
that what you get is simply what you get and no more. This means to me
that a product or a service sale is the end of the line and customer
service, if it exists, is considered an afterthought.
What you may have also noticed in many online product sales
is that a huge amount of sales material is outlined with little or no
customer service mentioned. So, is customer service dead in the
online world or is it a matter that one needs to carefully scour the
online market place to find any semblance of what I call "real customer
service" embedded clearly in their customer creed?
What Should Customer Service Really Say?
What I find interesting is that our previous review of the differing definitions
of customer satisfaction failed to highlight customer service seemingly
more dependent on one's initial satisfaction with the product or service
and neglecting a vital component within the linear buying experience.
That is to say that customer service, the service that is provided to the
customer to resolve issues, takes on less of a significant part of the entire
purchasing process. It is as if a company says that you should be very
pleased and happy
with our product or service and there should never
be an instance when you need to come to us to help resolve an issue or
What I believe that has been left out of the total equation, especially in
those online markets, is the underlying notion that a person to person
contact has become less worthy than a computer reply. I am not saying,
by the way, that some companies do not offer superb online customer service.
What I am saying, though, is that the worth of a person, the worth of a
one-on-one contact has been eroded because of profitability targets.
Yesterday's Customer Service
From firsthand experience owning and managing a small handmade craft
store, I can tell you without any hesitation that customer service
was the hall mark of our increasing and return visits. In other words,
customer service both at the time of the sales event and, if needed,
following the sales event were stressed as to be of equal importance.
This equality of service led to recommendations from our customers
to others including their immediate and extended family members
and to their visitors.
Not that many years ago, before the big box stores and the huge malls,
a visit to a local store was often about the expectation of human dialogue
and interaction coupled with a good product. One could argue that the
product was sold smothered in a real desire to serve people. In fact,
I can recall days gone by when I went and purchased an item at a local store
both out of need of the product and also for the experience of being treated
more as a friend and a person worth spending time with than a dollar mark
walking through the door.
Do you think I'm a supporter of big box stores? No, I'm not until such time
as the owners translate to their employees that a satisfied customer is
more than a person who doesn't attempt to return a product.
Since my choices of different
locally owned stores continues to rapidly disappear, so does, in my view,
what real customer service is all about.
A Return Of Growth Through Customer Service
And, returning to our little handmade craft store example, I can tell you as
a matter of fact that our customer base grew through word of mouth sales.
Why can I say this?
Simply put, it was the word of mouth referrals that grew our business
because we did not at any time spend one dime on advertisements
or promotions. Our growth was entirely dependent on our desire to
engage personally with every one who walked through our doors
whether they were simply browsing or actually intending to buy a
The Bottom Line To Customer Satisfaction
Here is what I believe to be the bottom line in relation to customer
satisfaction: Real people engaging in real conversations based on
a real desire to serve people rather than the bottom line.
Here are six really good reasons why customer satisfaction is vital for
your business success:
- It clearly communicates whether customers will buy from you again.
- It sets you apart from other businesses.
- It reduces the number of customers taking their business elsewhere.
- It enhances the opportunity to turn a one-time visit into a lifetime customer.
- It increases word of mouth referrals.
- It reduces expenditures on finding new customers.
"Biggest question: Isn't it really 'customer helping' rather than customer service? And wouldn't you deliver better service if you thought of it that way?"
"Our greatest asset is the customer! Treat each customer as if they are the only one!"
"Unless you have 100% customer satisfaction…you must improve."
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