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  • Writer's pictureL. Darryl Armstrong

Part 3 of 3: Measuring Customer Service

If our customers drive us to be better as business people then we are destined to get valuable customer feedback and react to it so we develop better products and services — arent’ we?

Well, it depends upon what part of the organization you sit in, says David Baker, vice president of email solutions at Avenue A/Razorfish.

What does customer measurement mean to your organization, and how do you use it to improve what you do today?

Do you measure “satisfaction,” “loyalty,” “experience,” or the new “holy grail” of customer measurement, “would you refer?”

Do you manage a customer scorecard on different variables important to your business?

The truth is it varies widely by industry and by how much money you have to devote to the measurement. More importantly, it will depend on the commitment of the leadership team to understand how this information applies to the business and then how they will use it once they get it.

“In the retail world, there’s a frenzied optimism around Net Promoter and understanding if your customers “Would recommend you to a friend or colleague.” But if you are relying on this NPS rating only, you are missing the boat as a loyalty factor,” Baker says.

Sometimes it takes going back to the basics to develop a good customer survey strategy that aligns with what you really want to know about your customers.

Baker has put these into five categories.


Surveying customers is an art, not a science. Why? Because, like an artist, you never have enough money to produce the perfect picture, you never have a specific time to finish it, and many viewers can interpret the end result differently. You should first understand that consumers are open to providing feedback on their experiences — but, it’s important to note, if they are 55+, they are more likely to give feedback on bad experiences than good ones. Those 18-34 are not likely to give feedback on good experiences. At least that is what the “Forrester Consumer Technographics Retail Study, March 2006 reports.

Bakers says that before you start, you should outline some fundamental “outcomes” that your entire organization believes in. That could be, “satisfaction,” “loyalty,” or “experience,” but each should have clear definition and controls.


Finding that audience of customers, lost customers and prospective customers is key to any survey strategy, Baker notes.

Finding the feedback “pool” is  the key.

There are finite groups of people that will respond to surveys, and that will go to great lengths to provide feedback and will not require a great incentive to participate.

How many of you actually have feedback segments in your database?


Your methodology should align with your resource and budget limitations.

If you have a limited budget and limited resources, then the frequency and depth of this analysis will vary. The consumer packaged goods industry has great examples of good consumer research at a high price. There isn’t much they don’t know about what you like about cat food: price sensitivity, product satisfaction, and relative depth of department involvement.

Bakers says that the grocery industry will know everything there is to know about shopping cart analysis and the relative reasons a person shops at a retail, grocery or superstore.

While the automotive and pharma industries are great at focus groups and high-touch satisfaction measurement related to the buying experience, in-product experience and future product needs.

The online retail space is typically great at high-frequency online measurement of the online buying experience and NPS.

The hospitality industry will know everything about a customer’s travel and hotel requirements, but is woefully ineffective at understanding the post-stay experience, the relative levels of satisfaction of discrete customer groups and/or the buying/booking experience.

Feedback Loops

Baker is emphatic on this point: Don’t ask for something unless you’re prepared to handle the results.

The result may be a need for intervention.

Are you prepared for this if you get an overly negative response?

What will you do with those that “will not refer you to a friend or colleague”?

Be sure to structure your programs to align with your ability to support response. This is why many customer service departments own the “customer satisfaction” process. Be wary of marketing organizations that do surveying without keying in the customer service teams, Baker says.


Should you pay for feedback?

Baker says, “YES.”

Call it a customer reward, but whether you pay or not, you should budget this compensation in some form, as you’ll find some customers will only respond to incentives, some will do it free, and others will tell their friends about the rewards.

In either case, be prepared to pay for feedback; you’ll do so in one form or another.

There are creative ways to do this without conditioning your customer to rewards, yet promoting the right activities.

P.S. Don’t forget to send me your examples of exemplary good or bad customer service!

Until next time.

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