Customer Service Measurement: Why Bother?

Posted: 7/2003

Customer Service Measurement: Why

By David Saxby

I recently received a customer-satisfaction
survey from a Holiday Inn in Louisiana where I stayed for several days on
business. They wanted to know how I felt about my experience there.

So I told them: My room was great. The breakfast
bar was excellent. The location and layout of the hotel were perfect for my
needs. Treatment by front-desk staff was among the worst I have ever
encountered. I interacted with the same woman on four different occasions and
she was consistently cold and unfriendly.

Then the big question came: Would I stay at their
hotel again? My answer was, Not in this lifetime! I questioned whether
they know how to treat and value a customer. I cant help but wonder if my
comments will result in change. I doubt it, and thats a shame because they
will miss an opportunity to measure the effectiveness of their customer service.
Customer service has an impact, one way or the other, on the bottom line.

Small telephone companies should do everything
they can to measure their customer service. Small carriers are close to their
customers and the service they provide is personal. Measuring allows them to
fine tune their service and take it to an even higher level. That should
translate into more sales and greater revenue. If a larger competitor looms,
better service could mean the difference between keeping and losing clients.

Earlier this year, the National Regulatory
Research Institute at Ohio State University conducted a survey with 18,793
Internet users. One of the areas they measured was consumer perception of local
telephone service quality and price. Local telephone service received a score of
1.87 out of a possible 4.0, giving the industry a grade of D. Long-distance
phone service and cellular received a 1.78.

The lesson here? To keep a pulse on your
customers and the consistency and quality of the service they receive, you
should always be asking them, How are we doing?

What do your customers say? Send
a brief survey every month to a sampling of business and residential customers
who have recently interacted with your company. Send it to customers that called
to add additional features. Send it to customers that had repair issues or
questions about their bill. The survey should go out immediately after the
customers interaction with your staff while the experience is still clear in
their mind.

Enclose a postage-paid envelope and offer to send
them a prepaid calling card for a few dollars to show appreciation for their
time and feedback. Doing a small monthly survey helps you measure the quality of
the service your customers receive when they interact with both your office and
field staff.

Call your customers. You
can learn a lot when you listen to what your customers think about your service.
While a mailed or e-mailed survey gives you a more statistical approach to a
customers experience, talking with them will give you an entirely different
perspective. We have found that it is often the small things that leave a
customer with a less-than-average experience. Hire an outside company to survey
your customers by telephone so that you will get a candid and objective view of
their experience.

See it from a new customers view. Customers
you have served for a few years have a relationship with you. What about those
new customers that have had their phone, Internet and cellular service with some
other company? Are their expectations being met when they interact with your
company? Hire a mystery shopping company (a firm that has people pose as
customers) to call and/or visit your company as new customers. The shoppers will
help you understand how someone sees your business for the first time. The
results of those mystery-shopping experiences will tell you if you are creating
a positive, lasting first impression with your new customers. Is your staff
asking questions to build rapport with your customers? Are they identifying the
customers needs? Do they offer additional products and services that you have
available? Mystery shopping will help uncover the areas that need the most
improvement. These findings can help you identify the skills your staff needs to
exceed customers expectations. Mystery shopping can be the measuring stick to
monitor service and sales levels through the eyes of your customers.

Measurement as a tool. The
results of any form of measurement are meaningless unless you choose to take
steps to improve the customer experience. Decide the actions steps that can be
implemented at every level of the company. What skills do your employees need to
improve in order to provide a better customer-service experience? What processes
and procedures need to be revised, changed or removed to make doing business
with you easier for the customer?

Measuring service is not a one-time event. A
survey conducted two or three years ago wont tell you what your customers are
experiencing today. Technology is changing the way you serve your customers. If
you dont collect ongoing feedback about the quality of your customers
experience and their needs, your competition may be eroding your profits.

When was the last time you asked your customers
the question, How would you rate your customer-service experience with our
company? If you cant remember, maybe its time to ask.

David Saxby is president of Measure-X, a Phoenix,
Ariz.-based measurement, training and recognition company that specializes in
customer service and sales skills training for utilities. He can be reached at
+1 888 644 5499 or via e-mail at


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