We live in an age of widespread access to customer feedback. The internet and social networking provide a platform for individuals to instantly share their experiences and opinions with both friends and strangers alike. While many organizations have embraced innovative techniques for obtaining customer feedback, one of the oldest methods for quantifying customer satisfaction is still widely in use – the survey. We are all familiar with the standard paper survey (and more and more frequently, the online survey) wherein we rate an organization on a predetermined list of qualities or services. The entirety of our services are measured by that single 5-star scale.
How often do we provide customers with a survey and feel slighted when we receive feedback that rates us as a solid C-player, average across the board, 3-Star. The customer has declared, “You did exactly what I expected you to do in exactly the way I expected you to do it – nothing more or less,” and yet, most of us feel that this level of service should be considered exceptional. Exceptional service, by definition, does not occur every time with every interaction. The idea that all of our services will be exceptional is akin to stating that you’ll be giving 110% at work today. This is a wonderful idea, to be sure, but not actually possible.
For customers who are just experiencing your product or service for the first time, perhaps it is reasonable to receive 5-star ratings. In this case, we should consider our exceptional rating as a comparison to the previous expectations the customer has developed over time through interactions with other organizations. However, it is imperative that we focus on those expectations and always seek to create a higher level of expectation amongst our customers.
In customer satisfaction we always talk about driving up our score. We want to be rated as exceptional every time with every interaction. Shouldn’t we be attempting to drive down those ratings? Shouldn’t we be striving to develop a level of service that is so extreme and consistent that customers come to change their expectations? While I’m certainly not advocating an operational theory that does not seek to go above and beyond for every customer, that should not be the single pillar of our customer service strategy. We must find ways to increase our customer service level through operational standardization. In this way, we can create a level of service that for all customers that can be achieved with greater consistency. We can develop a 3-star organization of which we can be proud.
How high is your customer service baseline? Is it higher than the competition? Does it create a sustainable competitive advantage for your organization. Leave your comments below!