Customer satisfaction is a multi faceted subject, and in this post we’ll be introducing a variety of ideas on how your operation can improve satisfaction levels. There's no single activity that can guarantee greater customer satisfaction – you need to take a holistic approach to improving your entire operation.
Typical problems that cause low satisfaction scores in an Back Office operation
- Long lead times
- Untimely payments
- Repeated errors or delays
- Failure to follow instruction requests
- Repeat requests for information from the company
- Failure to carry out tasks properly
- Use of jargon, making interaction unclear or confusing
With the right frameworks and methodologies in place, you can quickly achieve a significant reduction in errors and an improvement in quality and consistency.
Changing mindsets is key to improving satisfaction scores, and it’s essential that managers become more customer-centric. By focusing mindsets on the customer journey, your frontline staff can consider, evaluate and improve the way they interact with customers.
A change in mindset will prompt your managers to question whether they truly understand what your customer expects. And that’s crucial, because if your people don’t have a clear picture of minimum expectations, you will always struggle to improve satisfaction scores.
When you’re doing the right thing, and measuring the right variables from the right perspective, you’re generating incredibly valuable data. Armed with insightful metrics that your managers know to be accurate and reliable, they will have the confidence to make effective decisions. With the right information you’re able to bring balance to your operation. And a balanced operation means less bottlenecks, lower lead times and fewer delays.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
The wider impact of low satisfaction
Low satisfaction scores create problems way beyond an unhappy customer base. Distributors and Internal customers can become wary of organisations that can’t deliver the service they expect for their customers. It’s the distributors who take responsibility for facing the customers, so they take the brunt of the frustration if the supplier has a slow operation. So firms don’t want partnerships with providers that don’t provide a great experience. It’s not good for their reputation, and they can find themselves caught in the middle and expending time on admin rather than customer and sales .
If you’re in an annual renewal environment, for example a general insurer with a one year renewable term, customer satisfaction is critical to retention. Of course, customers may look for the cheapest price, but if you have exceptional service and the customer’s experience is consistently positive, they will be far less motivated to look for a better deal. Satisfied customers are also much more likely to refer. So satisfaction plays an important role both in retention and acquisition of new business.
The damage to a brand inflicted through low satisfaction levels can take years to reverse, often leading to increased regulatory pressure, greater operational cost and stagnated growth. In extreme cases, the brand may never recover.
“A satisfied customer is one who will continue to buy from you, seldom shop around, refer other customers and in general be a superstar advocate for your business.”
The road to improvement
One of the biggest challenges facing organisations is to change their perspective from an internal focus to a customer-centric focus.
An external consultant can be particularly effective at facilitating perspective change as they view operations from the outside-in. They look at operational processes and procedures with a fresh eye, starting with the customer in mind. This perspective change is key to reducing waste, improving efficiency and ensuring positive, sustainable change – both to customer experience and commercial performance.
A customer-centric perspective should be supported by effective tools, like a centralised software system that empowers managers with the information they need to identify problems before they spread. Your software should enable managers to behave proactively rather than reactively, helping to ensure that customers enjoy a smooth journey through your operational processes.
Gaining clarity and transparency in your operation is essential to improving satisfaction. Operations are often not clear on where their problems lie, and crucially, on when and where customers become dissatisfied.
Software plays a major role in the identification of problem areas within your operation. The right software provides a granular view of critical processes, offering clear insights into associated tasks, costs, quality scores, risk losses and writes-offs. With a centralised software system, you can view and interrogate all your operational information in one place, enabling you to identify the tasks and hotspots causing the issues.
Above is an example of a heat map from our Nexus work management software.
The heat maps in Nexus is anchored against a business process inventory and has all the data for the operation in one place – process, volumes, quality levels risk levels, losses, and complaints – this enables you to assess your operations and invest effectively in re-engineering activities and processes. It gives you the ability to place assets into continuous improvement, to know that you’re tackling the right issues, and to measure the outcome of your actions.
Without heat maps, process re-engineering is like shooting a high powered rifle into the ocean and hoping you’ll hit a shoal of fish. With heat maps, it’s like having all the fish in a barrel and shooting them with a shotgun!