From today's "DM News": Customer satisfaction down again
"Overall customer satisfaction declined in the fourth quarter of 2007, marking two subsequent quarters in which a decline was posted, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, released today by the University of Michigan.Here's the question I pose today: Is customer service related to the economy? Will, as the article contends, low customer satisfaction equate to less consumer spending?
In the fourth quarter, the index fell to 74.9 on the ACSI's 100-point scale, down 0.4% from the previous quarter. This news, combined with increasing unemployment, declining house prices, tighter credit, high levels of household debt and rising fuel and food prices is likely to pose challenges this quarter for consumer spending growth, according to the ACSI."
If so, then it's critical that companies get focused on their customer. Today--not tomorrow.
I'm a firm believer that we can do lots to improve the customer experience, even without spending an enormous amount of money. A couple of no/low cost ideas come to mind:
- Empower your front-line employees to solve problems. Let cashiers, for example, extend a small discount if a customer wants to buy slightly damaged merchandise. Let the customer service rep extend the web discount, even if the prospective customer called in for service. By empowering the people who talk to your customers, you're solving a problem quickly, making your customer and your employee feel more valued--and those are always keys to satisfaction.
- Mine your customer database to understand exactly who ARE your most valuable customers. Whether it's in terms of longevity (how long they've been with you) or how much they've spent or how often they buy, make sure you have a handle on just who are your best customers. Then, when you have a handle on this metric, make sure you treat these folks with extra special service. These are the people you definitely don't want to defect to your competitor. So, implement programs designed to show these high-value customers that you care.
We believe that it's always important to keep customers happy. In these crazy economic times, it's crucial.