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There are several definitions of the words Customer Service starting with "the process of ensuring customer satisfaction with a product or service". Another is "the ability of an organization to supply their customers wants and needs". And the last one is "how companies behave towards their customers". Of all those definitions the one that makes the most sense to me is the one that says "...ensuring customer satisfaction..." with customer satisfaction defined as "being pleased with a product or service". All these specific definitions deal with guaranteeing positive experiences for your clients. The question is how well we all stack up to the goal of zero defects when it comes to customer satisfaction and how we ensure accurate feedback from our customers to monitor our quality.
The biggest tool for measuring customer service today is the unfortunate, sometimes-dreaded customer survey that is sent to either randomly selected customers, or in some cases, all customers. It is usually a questionnaire about your recent service experience. Sometimes it is 5 questions. Sometimes it is longer than an admittance form at the Hospital. In fact, I just got a survey covering 32 different ranking categories and then additional specific questions on the experience with all 12 departments that I might have dealt with during my stay. WOW! Needless to say, that one took a while. On rare occasions surveys even offer you an opportunity to explain what you liked or disliked about your customer experience. That's a nice feature if anyone ever plans on getting back to you. Sometimes I feel like the same company developed all these surveys without much tailoring for a specific type of business or customer.
There is one common thread in all these surveys that I have noticed:
I never get any feedback. If I praise the company, I never hear anything back. If I am obviously upset about my service experience as noted in the survey I never hear anything. Why do I take the time to complete all these questionnaires? Because I personally feel they are very important tools for taking corrective action, but I never hear anything from the providers, so I begin to think that someone might just be going through the motions. Do you ever feel the same way?
Surveys really exist to give important feedback on customer reactions to the product or service that you supplied. They are valuable tools to review your company's overall performance and let you deal with specific customer issues that might be noted as a trend.
Please take the time to contact the customer who needs to be thanked or helped and make their day. Also, you can use the overall customer survey input to make changes in your company based on the input you received. If you use their data to implement changes let them know. If they thanked an exceptional employee, make sure they know that you took the steps necessary to compliment the employee's effort. Make the survey tool a two-way street and you will help improve the experience for everyone. Customer feedback makes all of us realize that taking the time to complete a company's survey will help make both our company's and our customer’s future brighter.
Author: Don Pierson, CSC