• April 1, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Required Reading: Customer Satisfaction at Its Best

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For nearly 40 years, J.D. Power and Associates has been synonymous with measuring customer satisfaction and helping businesses understand what customers really want. For many industries, its trophy has become as recognizable as the Oscar. In the book Satisfaction, authors Chris Denove and James Power IV explain how companies like JetBlue, Lexus, and UPS deliver consistently high customer satisfaction and translate that into profitable growth. CRM
magazine's Colin Beasty spoke with Denove about the book. CRM magazine: In the book you reference a number of companies that deliver great customer satisfaction. What did some of these companies have in common? Denove: First and foremost, all these companies had a long-term commitment from the top that customer satisfaction is of critical importance. In addition, all of these companies broadcast that message consistently over time. Employees of these companies don't consider customer satisfaction a monthly program. The second is that customer satisfaction is communicated down throughout the entire organization and is used as a filter for everything the company does. The company considers how every move it makes will impact the customer. This is even reflected in its hiring practices. I can't tell you how many companies have said, "You can't train personality." These companies hire employees as much on the basis of personality as on anything else, including cashiers, salespeople, or the janitor who cleans the store during business hours. CRM magazine: You say you've seen companies make the mistake of balancing a CRM initiative against the technological benefit, such as reduced waiting times in the contact center, instead of measuring the cost against the increase in customer satisfaction. Why is that?Denove: First, it's easy to put a program in place that has a trackable metric, such as the number of calls you can put through the contact center within an hour. It's right in front of you and you're able to put a tangible cost savings to it. It's much more difficult to track the touchy-feely elements of what impact the technology is having on the way customers feel about the company and if that impact is enough to get them to change their buying behavior. That's where you're getting the real financial impact. On the other hand, it's much easier to measure cost savings, which is how most CRM implementations are measured. CRM magazine: What will readers find most interesting about your book?Denove: Two things. First, it doesn't matter what industry J.D. Power and Associates measures, we always find a direct link between satisfaction and profits. The second is the consistent underestimation of the value of the lowest-level employees that touch the customer, such as a cashier, a phone operator, a retail salesperson, anyone. The company can spend millions of dollars on technology and processes, but in the end, it all boils down to that moment of truth when the customer is talking to your minimum-wage employee. That employee can make up for those bad processes or ruin great processes in the blink of an eye. Other Page Turners:
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