Before going into the reasons why a customer satisfaction audit (CSA) can be very useful to find out what customers think and feel, it’s worth stating the obvious up front:
If it’s for information purposes only, then it amounts to a time consuming and possibly expensive luxury.
If it’s part of a strategy with clearly defined steps and a commitment to re-measure at specific intervals, then this should be a very worthwhile exercise with significant benefits. The competitive motor industry has been doing these for years and takes them very seriously indeed, as they should.
Apart from providing invaluable customer insights and feedback, they reveal customer preferences, expectations and pain points. When this information is analysed, informed decisions can be made to improve not only products, design and services, but overall customer experience.
Audits identify where an organisation excels and where it falls short, guiding resource allocation and strategy. Strengths can be maintained and leveraged, whilst addressing areas of weakness reduce customer attrition.
But there’s something else. When CSA’s are periodically scheduled employees receive the clear message that the organisation cares about what external customers feel and think, fostering a continuous improvement ethic.
On the other hand it tells customers that their opinions and feelings are valued. It can catch dissatisfaction that did not appear in reviews by asking the right questions and becomes a critical tool in reputation management. This fosters increased brand loyalty leading to repeat business.
Sharing the results with both customers and employees creates transparency and shows an intent to maintain high standards and admit when the organisation is not getting it right.
Then there is risk mitigation. It’s a bit like going for a medical check up now and again. Sometime these check-ups help to identify problems at an early stage preventing serious problems down the line. A well conducted CSA serves a similar purpose.
Once the results of the CSA are in, design a strategy with time frames to address issues and leverage strengths. Then leave sufficient time for the changes to start working before redoing the CSA.
Of course whether you’re making key decisions or tracking progress once initiatives have been undertaken, isn’t it better to do so with the data at your disposal?