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Knowing your customers pays

In this week’s focus on customer service, Noel Dyson looks at how businesses find out if they’re doing it right.

ONE of the most important challenges facing business owners is finding out what their customers think of the level of service offered.

It is vital that a business knows what it is doing right for its customers and, possibly more importantly, what it is doing wrong.

Customer service management consultant Jillian Mercer said there were only three questions a company had to ask: what am I doing right; what am I doing badly; and what should we be doing differently to help you as a customer.

“The most important thing is … you need to ask your customers and not rely solely on staff feedback or what you think is right,” Ms Mercer said.

“It’s all about business practices or processes.

“You need to know what you are doing right so you can keep on doing it. With the answers to the other two questions you can work out what you need to change.”

Ms Mercer said it was worthless asking for customer satisfaction feedback.

“It’s just a feel-good statistic. It doesn’t give you any actionable input,” she said

Small Business Development Corporation managing director George Etrelezis said many of the people that made applications for the Small Business of the Year Awards had some mechanism for gauging customer service.

“They usually attach some sort of incentive to it – fill out this form and go in the draw to win a free trip somewhere kind of thing,” Mr Etrelezis said.

“It is important to keep these customer feedback forms short and simple.

“The whole point of them is to look at how you can make your customer service better.

“You will always get adverse comments but you will also get some comments that are helpful.”

Edith Cowan University school of marketing, tourism and leisure senior lecturer Martin O’Neill said it was best for businesses to use a mixture of qualitative and quantitative surveys to measure customer service responses.

“Most businesses tend to use either quantitative surveys or qualitative surveys exclusively,” Dr O’Neill said.

“From using a mix of both you can devise a matrix to identify the problems in your business’s customer service.”



p Next week: Blueprinting the service engine.

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