In my 25 years in business, I've worked on customer satisfaction with large companies such as Verizon, General Electric, Ford, Chevron, and Texaco. And, no matter what the product is, the customer needs to feel delighted with their experience or there’ll be issues down the road.
In this article, I share a number of proven tips that can dramatically improve your customer satisfaction survey scores. They're all relatively simple and can be easily adopted by your IT service desk to achieve the results you want with your customers.
The four key elements are:
- Measure consistently
- Understand Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Build customer satisfaction into your culture
- Create an action plan and train your team
1. Measure Consistently
I’m a big fan of The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. If you’ve been anywhere near the venture capital world in the last 10 years, then you've probably heard of the Lean Startup methodology and may be familiar with the ideas of Minimum Viable Products and Cohort Measurement. It’s important to be lean with your attempts to improve your IT service desk’s customer satisfaction scores. This involves: starting small, with good measurements, and then trying something different with one customer. Then another. And another.
In addition to being lean, become comfortable with cohort measurement. Many people run out and undertake a survey of their clients and then stare at the data trying to figure out what to do.
Or worse, they’ve endless meetings and never do anything. This is often because the idea of changing something as large as “customer service” is very daunting. So, build a small cohort of customers to start your improvement experiment.
You then need to know if the treatment you’re applying to your customer is having an appropriate impact. Some tactics you may try might actually make the situation worse, and you need to be ready to declare failure and back these changes out of your practices/process. Cohort measurement will show you this.
2. Understand NPS
NPS is a globally-recognized method for benchmarking overall customer satisfaction and willingness to recommend your organization. While many people utilize this methodology it’s often misunderstood. Using an 11-point scale, the anchors with the NPS are “Detractor” to “Promoter.”
The surprising aspect of the NPS scale is that a 5 is not neutral. In fact, any score of 6 or below is considered a Detractor. Scores of 7 and 8 are considered Passives, and only nines and tens are considered Promoters.
To calculate your NPS, you subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. The Passives are ignored in the calculation altogether.
The NPS is a fairly-harsh measure of customer satisfaction based on how the measure is calculated (because it’s heavily skewed negative). A score of 25 is considered very good while the score of 50 is nearly world class.
3. Build Customer Satisfaction into Your Culture
Achieving high levels of customer satisfaction is clearly your first objective. However, maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction will require careful consideration of your company culture. The best approaches I’ve seen weave a customer-service orientation into your organization’s culture.
What does it mean to have a culture of high customer service? It means that the language used in meetings, and in everyday interactions between employees, reflect a shared understanding that achieving high levels of customer satisfaction is an important objective for the organization. Employees strive for high levels of customer delight not because they’ve been asked to, but because it’s “the way things are done here.”
4. Create an Action Plan and Train Your Team
Having action plans that can be implemented when a negative customer interaction occurs is of critical importance. Many people believe that a high level of customer satisfaction equates to avoiding all mistakes and never having an upset customer. However, there’s ample research that supports the idea that even negative events can turn into a positive customer experience if the right orientation is adopted.
How exactly do you turn a negative customer event into a positive experience?
Having a clear action plan is critical - and it needs to include the following components:
- Fast response times
- Careful listening to both the issue and the emotional response
- Positive emotional connection (empathy) with the customer
- Clear expectations on what will be done to fix the issue
- Diligent and intentional follow-up on the fixes
If the entire team is trained on the five steps above, over time they’ll learn how to take negative customer situations and turn them into satisfied customers. Along the way many funny stories will accumulate as customers sometimes show bizarre behavior when they're angry.
Any team can use the steps outlined above to move customer satisfaction scores in a positive direction. By considering these steps and changing the way the IT service desk team interacts with, and responds to, customers, very positive results can be created in a very short amount of time.