Magazine article Management Review

Auditing Customer Satisfaction

Magazine article Management Review

Auditing Customer Satisfaction

Article excerpt

AUDITING CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

If your firm is interested in assessing the quality of its customer service and identifying and improving on areas where it must be strengthened, then conducting a customer satisfaction audit could prove quite beneficial. The audit, based on the long-term experiences of more than 2,000 businesses, proves that the key to success is to outshine the competition in customer value.

Further, providing excellent customer service is not just the responsibility of the marketing or customer service departments. Rather, it is the responsibility of the entire management team, including those in financial, administrative, research, operations, and marketing functions.

For maximum benefit, implement the audit in two steps. Management team members should each complete the audit, working independently of one another. Then, they should get together with you, the manager, for an in-depth exploration of answers. Look at areas in which you agree improvement is needed as well as the uncertain areas. The results of your analysis can serve as the foundation for development of a concrete action program to increase your organization's level of customer satisfaction.

CONDUCTING THE AUDIT

The audit consists of nine critical aspects of organization behavior--"key indicators." Address each key indicator statement and read the "clue questions" that follow before entering your score. Also, think about questions specific to your organization that the clue questions might trigger. Jot those questions down in the margin of your audit form for purposes of later discussion.

Score yourself as follows:

Disagree strongly = 1

Disagree somewhat = 2

In the middle = 3

Agree somewhat = 4

Agree strongly = 5

Key indicator #1: Top management makes it clear by its actions that customer satisfaction is the primary force driving our organization.

Clue questions: Does top management regularly spend a small but significant percentage of its time listening to customers? Is it obvious to our employees that customer satisfaction, rather than financial performance, is top management's priority? Besides receiving recognition through an "employee of the month" program, is exemplary customer service in our organization awarded spontaneously when it happens?

Key indicator #2: In our organization, we actively listen to customers and to employees who have direct contact with them.

Clue questions: Do research and development staff have regular contact with customers? Do we have a regular forum for discussing what customers tell customer service representatives? When employees suggest areas of improvement, does top management respond positively or write them off as complainers?

Key indicator #3: Through market research, we have precisely defined customer needs and have measured how effectively we meet those needs.

Clue questions: Is our market analysis in-depth, going beyond the general categories of quality, service, and price? Are research findings discussed and analyzed throughout the organization, rather than just within the marketing department? Does our research focus not just on the product or basic service we provide, but on all attendant services as well, such as delivery speed and technical assistance? …

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