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Customer Satisfaction Benchmark

Executive Summary

Background

Brand X Solutions, Inc. is a leading worldwide provider of services and technology to the brand X industry. Long known for cutting edge IT products targeted to the brand X industry, the company has recognized that world class customer service is a key to their marketplace success. They have also recognized that in order to create a culture that is famous for service, on-going customer input on what works and what does not is absolutely vital. Such a customer-centric culture depends on relevant metrics, practical measures and timely action plans that are grounded in what Brand X Solutions customers perceive as the key features of great service.

In order to get an accurate gauge on what is vital to customers in terms of the features of great service as well as an assessment of Brand X’s performance on these features; Progressive Insights, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia was retained to craft a customer service survey and structured interview process. The survey differed from traditional survey research in that it utilized more conversational queries. The goal was to amplify the response rate so that future actions could be based on reliable information. Fifteen questions were asked of all structured interview and survey recipients in addition to five questions crafted for each of 5 specific product areas. The results of this two-pronged data collection effort is to determine the most critical improvement opportunities as well as build a set of benchmarks by which service improvement year after year can be accurately gauged.

The Process

The customer service survey was preceded by a pilot survey sent to twenty-five Brand X Solutions customers hand-picked to represent a cross-section of Brand X products. Careful attention was given to select customers who were as geographically dispersed as the larger customer population. Effort was also made to select customers who would be completely candid in their assessment of Brand X Solutions’ customer service. Twenty surveys were returned. Additionally, customers were polled regarding their evaluation of the survey experience. This input was used to refine the paper survey sent to a much larger population.

In addition to the pilot survey, structured interviews were conducted with 32 customers. Again, careful effort was made to obtain input from customers across all products. Each interview followed the same questions used in the paper survey. Each interview lasted approximately thirty minutes allowing the capacity to more deeply probe issues and concerns. The total response rate for the project was 21.7%. This response rate is well in excess of the 10-12% benchmark for statistical validity needed in a survey project of this type. In fact we have been informed by Brand X Solutions Executives that the number of customers who participated in this effort represents nearly 60% of Brand X Solutions revenues. Response rates by service area surveyed were as follows:

Product A – 16%

Product B– 50%*

Product C – 20%

Product D – 24%

Product E. – 25%

*All from structured interviews

What follows are the paper surveys, the paper survey results, a summary of the survey and structured interview results, a summary of the pilot survey results, a summary of the structured interview results, a list of those interviewed, and key learning’s. Key learning’s are the top line concerns raised by customers which we believe warrant early attention.

Next Steps and Recommendations

It will be critical that action plans are developed to address the results obtained from the survey and interview process. Such action plans will need to have clear accountability and consequences for non-performance. Customers interviewed have voiced great hope that improvements will be forthcoming. Inaction will yield a calloused customer who is not likely to be candid in future attempts to seek their input.

What should the Brand X Solutions Executive Team Do Next:

  • Get closure on your service vision and implement a plan for your role in communicating throughout the organization what it is and its implications.
  • Let your employees see your total commitment to service excellence through your daily actions. People learn what is important from observation, not conversation.
  • Fix the bureaucracy—start with the low hanging fruit for initial momentum—publicize your actions. Stop the "blame game."
  • Develop clear, relevant metrics/accountabilities that redirect focus on area that your customers say is important. Implement a reward system to motivate and recognize your customer service heroes.
  • Develop and implement a concise external and internal communications plan to communicate the results of the Customer Satisfaction Benchmark project to your customers and throughout your company.
  • Start a process that trains/facilitates people throughout the organization to think as a team serving customers. This includes a host of cross-unit initiatives. There is too much silo thinking today…and your customers are tired of it.
  • Fix the quality issue and implement a process to keep it fixed.
  • Establish new standards for honesty and integrity throughout the organization. They will only work if they have your commitment to model them…and, they have teeth in them. Your customers sense a drop in integrity and you need to correct this quickly.

We have enjoyed working with your company and very much appreciate the opportunity to work with Brand X Solutions in developing a Customer Satisfaction Benchmark.