Does customer satisfaction exist? No. Not in the HD repair industry, anyway.
There are too many players, too many constituents, too many people that are not “customers” that influence the process and the outcome of an HD repair. We are not selling T-shirts online. Some days, we probably wish we were. This is a more complex business. There are nuances to be considered in every unique repair.
Still, we have an innate desire to do the right thing. To provide great service to the HD owners, fleet managers, insurance company representatives, TPA’s and OE’s; to work efficiently with paint companies, parts providers, and multiple other vendors.
To help keep ourselves on track and ensure we are doing things the right way, we rely heavily on measurements. We have financials that include P&L’s, balance sheets, income statements and breakouts of business units that tell us how much money is in the bank. We measure cycle time, and parts, and paint usage. We track how many hours our employees work and how much money we are spending on marketing as a percentage of sales. Measurements are everywhere.
But for many of us, measurements of customer satisfaction- commonly called CSAT- remain an afterthought. But-there are those words again– customer satisfaction. Although it is probably not an adequate descriptor, I may have to revert to using it in a very generic and holistic sense, since there is no word (that I can think of) that more accurately describes everyone and all the organizations that influence a repair in the HD industry.
The comparison of financial statements and customer satisfaction is an interesting exercise. And, if not an actual exercise, (likely due to inadequate CSAT data points), at least an interesting philosophical discussion. Where does CAST show up on the balance sheet? Well, it doesn’t. Assuming you are making money (let’s hope so!) how can you therefore determine if the numbers in financials represent good profit or bad profit? Is there such a thing as bad profit? Yes- but let’s just say not-so-good profit. What is not-so-good profit (NSGP)?
- NSGP values policy over relationships, making it more likely that costs will be driven up in the future due to short-term gains in the present
- NSGP allows customers to remain unsatisfied, causing future brand deterioration by negative word of mouth
- NSGP allows customers to remain unsatisfied, driving up future service costs that you may not be able to get compensated for
- NSGP measures cycle time, but not comeback percentage
- NSGP gums up the works by tying up your resources with complaints or re-work, that as an additional side effect is also quite de-motivating, if prevalent enough
Interestingly, without customers, there would be no need for financial statements, paint, parts, or much of anything else for that matter. Yet, some owners and managers relay on the old “I know my customers”, “I know everything that is going on in my business” mantra. There are two major reason why, even if partially true, it is best practice to systematically verify your beliefs.
First, customers won’t tell you everything they will tell a computer screen or a live agent with whom they have no history or personal investment. And, with your best source of future work being a recommendation, it is vital to harvest this feedback. Even customers that are completely satisfied can provide valuable information for future operational improvements and future products and services.
In a study of thousands of customer satisfaction surveys, TenPoint Complete found that even those customers that rated the overall experience a 9 or a 10 on a ten-point scale, approximately 25% of them had some aspect of the experience they thought could have been improved.
That brings up a second point, which is that expectation levels are constantly changing. You are not only compared to your peers in the industry, but to other service providers, some of which are doing a very good job. Many, however, are still not exceeding expectations, or creating raving fans. This is actually good news, as you have the opportunity to step-up and position yourself in the mind of the customer (insurance company, fleet manager, OE, TPA etc.) as an exceptional provider.
A recent personal example of a service failure occurred when I ordered checks from my bank (yes, still need the paper kind on occasion). Long story short, it took over three weeks and several frustrating phone calls to accomplish this task. My feedback was straightforward: Providing check re-orders should be a core service competency. The expectation level today is not two or three weeks on a request of this nature- it is two or three days.
There are certainly many additional advantages to CSAT measurement. If this has at least provided some food for thought, I’ll wrap up with some best practices or characteristics of CSAT measurement.
The Six C’s of CSAT Measurement
Commitment– From the top. The owners, executives, and managers that sponsor or initiate the programs must be fully invested in their implementation, or it will be very difficult to achieve the goals.
Customer Focused Strategy– Sounds obvious, but the measurements need to create action. For example, customers need to be followed up with upon receipt of negative feedback. How many times have you given negative feedback and not been acknowledged? Not good!
Consistent– Many companies produce an annual CSAT measurement. While this is better than nothing, it leaves a lot on the table, like the opportunity to impact corporate culture and the ability to use results as part of an overall management tool and philosophy.
Complex– Not! Complex measurements and formulas are interesting to statisticians and people who work in the industry, but not many others! Survey questions, reports, and other tools should be straightforward, intuitive, and easily understood.
Comprehensive– From a methodology standpoint, you may want to consider a company that utilizes omni-channel communication. For example, the ability to survey via SMS (text), E-mail, and live agent. Also, having the option of an invitation to social media may be of interest.
Credible– Measurements need to be credible to influence your important stakeholders and constituents. Producing the measurements yourself or relying on a company that does not have a core focus in CSAT measurement may dilute your efforts.
In future installments, we will explore more specific uses for the measurements in the HD environment and some of the most widely used tools for this type of strategic initiative.