Customer satisfaction: not rocket science, but rocket fuel

Do your internal process measures tell you how good your service is for your customers? More importantly, do your measures of customer-perceived quality confirm it?

Service quality is a subjective concept, and there are distinct differences between ‘internal process quality’ (the type of quality measures managers measure) and the ‘true’ quality obtained from the customer.

These days, customer satisfaction is a vital metric, and it’s not enough for smaller housing associations to rely on their greater personal knowledge of residents as a barometer of their satisfaction. So how are you going to define it?

I could give you a Latin definition (but you’ll have to read to the end to get it*) or look at what research tells us, which is that there are three common elements to customer satisfaction:

1) customer satisfaction is a response, sometimes emotional

2) … to a particular element, such as expectations, product or consumption experience

3) … which occurs at a particular time, such as after consumption or choice, or based on accumulated experience

But that only takes us so far: how does it works in practice?

Operational or strategic?

If used properly, customer satisfaction is a performance tool which can support and influence both operational and strategic performance.

The operational context is where a service quality tool means staff are quickly aware of service failures and can resolve issues before they turn into formal complaints.

The strategic context occurs by having the ability to track customer-focused performance trends over time and using this knowledge to inform strategic thinking and measure the success of strategies in practice.

What do you do with the information?

Customer satisfaction performance information can be analysed in different ways to focus upon staff performance (whether individuals, teams, departments or the whole organisation) or more detailed customer levels (at schemes, neighbourhoods, or communities).

This serves to underpin evidence-based decision making, and acts as a guide when used customer feedback to develop or innovate service.

It’s not rocket science, but used properly, customer satisfaction surveys can be rocket fuel for the performance of your organisation.

How can small organisations access this?

Professionally managed customer satisfaction surveys, like those provided by Acuity, can provide the intelligence needed to tell you all you need to know about service quality and how to improve it.

We have many years’ experience of working with a wide variety of smaller housing providers, listening to their needs and providing the information they want, when they want it.

Would you like to know more? Please feel free to contact me for more information, or to discuss the options.

Since you’ve read to the end…

* Satisfaction: it’s derived from the Latin satis (meaning enough) and facere (meaning to do or make).

About Simon Williams

Simon Williams (FCIH, MMRS), Associate, Acuity Research & Practice. Acuity is a leading UK research agency providing resident satisfaction, performance benchmarking, learning & development, and consultancy for the social housing sector.

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