Obtaining customer feedback to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty is essential to any marketing plan or strategic planning process.
Identify ways to gather customer information in order to achieve customer excellence
- Indirectly tracking customer attitudes and satisfaction can indicate the organization’s longer-term performance.
- Firms can track customer satisfaction through market research, lost business and customer complaints.
- Simpler methods of obtaining customer attitudes include directly asking them, phone calls and store-based questionnaires or surveys.
- bottom line: The final balance; the amount of money or profit left after everything has been tallied.
One of the key inputs to achieving sustainable competitive advantage is long-term customer satisfaction excellence (i.e., being excellent in the eyes of your customers). It’s not always easy to determine what actions will lead to customer excellence, but there are iterative ways of solving for this competitive advantage.
Market research using your customers is one of the most important aspects of running a business, as no amount of discussion with professionals, friends or colleagues will ever replace the feedback from a real customer. The “bottom line” of all marketing activities and strategies is net profit. Performance figures can be tracked directly or indirectly. Indirectly tracking customer satisfaction can indicate the organization’s long-term marketing performance. The easiest methods to obtain information from customers are:
- Asking them – When dealing with existing or potential customers, strike up a conversation.
- Focus Groups- Gather a number of customers, sit them down and discuss a range of issues relevant to your business. The advantage of using this method over a questionnaire is that you will get more detailed information and feedback, rather than “tick the box”- style responses from a questionnaire.
- Telephone – Ring them and ask a couple of questions over the phone.
- Questionnaires – Distribute one-page questionnaires that ask key questions like: What do you like/dislike? How can things be improved? Is convenience important? Is after-sales service critical? The use of computers in these questionnaires is becoming increasingly popular. Kiosks are often placed in stores to easily track customer satisfaction.
Other useful, but not so simple, measures of tracking customer attitudes and satisfaction are:
- Market research – This includes customer panels used to track changes over time.
- Tracking lost business -For example, the orders lost because the stock was not available or the product did not meet the customer’s exact requirements.
- Customer complaints – How many customers complain about products, services, or the organization itself.