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Finding profits in customer satisfaction

Monday, August 13, 2012 - 14:21
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Customer satisfaction is one of the most positive ways to increase your business. People return to places where they were comfortable and also are more apt to refer their friends. Reaching that optimum customer satisfaction index (CSI) score is at times a struggle, and keeping it there also is difficult, because it takes constant effort.

The best way to keep your CSI number at a level that draws return business and profits is by dealing with the poor surveys properly. Repairers often send thank you letters to customers who give good surveys, but how much attention do they spend on the bad surveys? Those are the ones that should have received a thank-you letter because they probably told you how things really are at your shop, and isn't that what you really want to know?

Believe it or not, the poor surveys are your best tool in keeping your CSI score at the preferred level. If you look at the complaints with an open mind you might see a situation or process in your facility that really needs to be changed. Discussing a poor survey with the customer to find out what went wrong is the first step.

Talking to the customer and thanking them for bringing the situation to your attention is the first step in winning the customer back. Allowing them to verbally express the issue also will help you get the facts, listening to them is sometimes all they want. Reacting defensively at this point will shut them down. Instead, allow them to express their feelings and acknowledge what is important to them without interruption. As you do so they will understand that you are sincere in your efforts to reach a solution that benefits you and the customer.

Once you understand the complete concern you should apologize and tell the customer that you use situations like this to improve your operations. Recap the situation for them and give them the reason or reasons why things did not go like they should have. Describe your current process to them so they know how things are supposed to happen.

You can give the customer some details on how their experience will change that process if a change is necessary. As you describe your solution to the customer it's important that you ask them if that will resolve the issue they were confronted with. Remember, it might be as simple as explaining to them that a person needs to be retrained or that it was a circumstance that could not be avoided. Doing this properly will make the customer feel that they are part of your team, not an unhappy customer.

Extending the customer a gesture of goodwill is a positive step in recovering from a poor customer experience. You must ensure that the customer understands that the gesture is not a replacement for the service they received, but a token of appreciation for helping you resolve their situation and make your company better. This gesture or token does not have to be big, but should be something the customer sees as having value.

It also is very important that you share this situation with your entire staff. If there was one specific person or department that was involved with the situation it will need to be discussed in depth with them, but it's still important to share with everybody. This should be handled in an educational format, citing specifically who was wrong or what department failed will only bring discontent.

Describing the situation to your staff like the customer explained it to you will allow your people to put themselves in the customer's shoes and visualize the situation. When they can see the issue from the customer's point of view it will be easier for them to work on a solution.

Resolving bad situations in a positive manner will create advocates that will talk about you more than the people who completed "perfect 10" surveys. Having a customer tell a friend how you corrected the situation will provide the best referral giving you advertising you cannot buy.

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