Use Monitoring, Surveys to Improve Customer Loyalty

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You've developed your marketing plans based on the latest technological advances. Sales are ahead of projections but ... the back end is not holding up. Why are you losing hard-earned customers? How can customer loyalty be improved?

According to a study by J.D. Power and Associates, Agoura Hills, CA, published in Credit Card Magazine earlier this year, customer satisfaction in the credit card industry actually declines when a customer has to contact the customer service unit. To change this phenomenon, you must understand what is driving it.

To analyze why customer satisfaction is not driven higher by contact with your customer service unit or why a program is losing customers, you must listen to your customers' concerns. How does a customer's voice get heard so the product or process can be refined to more effectively meet the needs of that customer?

There are two major touch points between the customer and your customer service unit that should always be in place: monitoring and surveying.

The quality department should work with the marketing and operations staff to analyze the results of monitoring and surveying to assist in product and process redesign. This will ensure that customers' wants and needs are being met and the customers retained.

An effective monitoring process not only assesses the technical skills and soft skills of the representatives, it also tracks and analyzes customer concerns regarding the marketing, customer service and essence of the product itself. The quality and training departments should work together to develop representatives' skill sets to ensure they ask the necessary probing questions when identifying the precise concerns of customers. The concerns need to be closely monitored and analyzed for tracking and trending purposes.

As changes are made to the product or processes to address the customer needs, proper measurements are needed to ensure the issues were correctly identified and that the changes are producing the desired effect on customer satisfaction.

Surveying should be conducted on every customer interaction. Surveying needs to be unbiased. How many times have you completed a survey when you were less than satisfied with an experience, only to find that the survey did not address the component of the experience that was the cause for your dissatisfaction? Survey design should allow customers to tell you what is important to them. It should not simply produce the answers you want.

You also will need to use the survey to complete regression analysis in order to identify the drivers of customer satisfaction. Questions need to be structured so that in addition to rating major components of the process, the details of each component are also rated. In other words, in addition to asking whether a customer was satisfied with the representative, subcomponent questions should be included. Was the representative courteous? Helpful? Knowledgeable?

Through such detailed questions a regression analysis is able to identify the attributes that are the determining factors in customer satisfaction.

Once the data are collected, it is up to the quality department to collaborate with the training and marketing departments to develop methods that will enhance the service or product and will meet or exceed a customer's expectations in future interactions, because a happy customer is a loyal customer.

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