Saturday, January 16, 2010

Five ways to measure customer satisfaction

1. Ask them. Duh, you say. But I can’t remember the last time someone asked me seriously about how satisfied I was with their service or product. And I don’t mean the token “So how is/was everything?” you get from the cashier or assistant manager. When you’re checking out isn’t exactly the time to be divulging all the pros and cons of the establishment. Plus “everything” is a pretty broad term. Try something a little more specific, like “What do you think of our selection of ____?” or “Is there anything we can do to better serve you next time?”.

2. Create your own mystery shoppers. Why not catch somebody while they’re shopping, standing in line, waiting to be served, etc., and ask them specific questions with the promise of a coupon or a freebie when they’re done? If you get somebody before their consumer experience you’ll get a lot better feedback because they’ll be actively looking for an answer. Give them an assignment like “How long did it take you to find what you were looking for?” and ask them about their experience when they’re done.

3. Bribes are always good. Sure, some businesses ask me to call their 1-800 customer satisfaction hotlines for a chance to win $1,000 and a date with Salma Hayek, which is great and all but the fact is I never call. It’s partly due to apathy, laziness on my (and their) part, and partly because I don’t feel like I’ll get anything out of it. Sure, a date with Salma Hayek would be nice (OK, I made that part up) but it seems like the higher the number the less likely I am to win, and $1,000 seems to me to be on the high side.

4. Make it easy for customers to complain. Don’t think you’re getting a sense of customer satisfaction by reviewing customer complaints because most people don’t go to the trouble of formalizing a complaint. 95% of dissatisfied customers don’t complain, and many quit being customers. Make it as easy as possible to solicit feedback from customers by putting comment forms at every table in a restaurant (with something besides crayons to write with), keep comment forms near the rest rooms, put a 1-800 number, email address, or website for comments on every receipt, etc. The more quickly you can respond to their complaints the more likely you are to hang on to them as a customer. If you can’t resolve a problem on the spot ask for the customer’s contact info and offer to let them know when their problem is resolved.

5.Count repeat customers. It’s not too far of a stretch to say that a satisfied customer is more likely to be a repeat customer, so come up with a way to track repeat customers. This could be as simple as a punch card where the nth something is free to a full-fledged loyalty card that offers cash discounts and tracks customer purchases.
The main goal here is to keep your employees focused on the customer. If I wander into a shop with a 20-something employee who makes me feel like a nuisance for cutting in on his texting time I’m probably not going back anytime soon if I can help it. To train your employees on the importance of the customer you could do like L.L. Bean and prominently display this poster in your employee areas