Your employees are NOT your most important resource

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Many companies proudly state that “Our employees are our most important resource” but I would like to see the customers as an more important resource beacuse without customers it does not matter how great employees you have, you will not have a successful business. This may be ok for charity work though… I regard a customer as a resource because it is something you have at least some control of, can invest in and develop and if you do not take care of it properly this resource will diminish or fade away.

Customer service should be an essential part of every organisation. The ROI of solving a complaint from a customer and keep him/her as a customer is probably far greater compared to acquire a new customer.

So, why does customer satisfaction questionnaires have so low status in many organizations? I say it is beacuse they are executing the entire process poorly. In B2B often someone (e.g. an account manager) gets the order to complete at least X number of customer feedback forms using a predefined template that is used on all customers. In B2C, companies often use incentives such as “Complete this feedback form about our product and you get 2 free tickets to the cinema”. The problem in the second example is that you will get feedback from people who probably are more interested in the free tickets than in your product and this will reflect the results. In the B2B example there are several problems:

  • The feedback template is probably focusing on your product from your perspective instead of from the customer’s perspective. This may result in that the customer will find it difficult to understand and elaborate on the questions.
  • The customer feels that you are only trying to suck information out of them why they quickly lose interest.
  • Some questions in the template may not be applicable to your customers situation.

Increase your chances of getting customer’s to provide valuable information by:

  • Make it clear what the purpose of the survey is; to understand how you are able to improve your customers situation even better.
  • Be brief and ask only relevant questions. Be respectful of your customer’s time.
  • Start with asking the customer what parameters are important for him. Often this question will give you more valuable input than your own questions that you use on all other customers.
  • Act on the results. This may sound like a no-brainer but I think most companies look at the results of the survey only once a year during a evaluation or salary discussion. When the results have been acquired, that’s when the real work starts.
  • Present what have been done to improve the situation from the result of the last survey.

But, be aware of that a happy customer is not necessarily a loyal customer. Read more about this on:
http://www.salesforce.com/thecloudcrowd/common/downloads/How-to-measure-customer-loyalty.pdf

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