Customer Satisfaction
Don't Let Research Results Sit on a Shelf

So you've conducted a customer satisfaction survey, or received the latest wave of survey results. You know where you stand. What now?

The first step is to wrap your mind around the results. What are they saying? Where do you need to improve? The next step is to present the findings to key people in the organization. This should include upper management as well as front-line management. Upper management needs to completely understand the standing of the company with customers, and needs to buy in to the results. If your presentation is a good one, and management is truly behind the concept of customer satisfaction, the bosses should lend their support to your further efforts at improving satisfaction and re-measuring it in the future. Front-line management is going to need to understand the detail behind the results. To do this, they must fully understand how the survey was conducted and the satisfaction levels of customers in their particular business units.

It is a good idea to have front-line management put together a service plan in response to the research report. The service plan should identify key areas for improvement, and should outline specific solutions to the problems uncovered in survey. They should consult with their employees and with each other as they formulate their plans. Wherever possible, the plans should indicate what constitutes success. For example, if a survey finds that customers are dissatisfied with waiting times, a plan will need to specify current waiting times, desired waiting times at a particular time in the future, and the level of satisfaction with regard to waiting times that should occur at the next time of satisfaction measurement.

After the service plans are put into place, each front-line manager should monitor progress toward meeting the service plan's goals. Periodic meetings will help to ensure that all employees are in tune with the goals of the service plan, an that all possible solutions have been discussed.

Upper and middle management should periodically check on progress against plans. What's working and what's not working? Are there any additional resources that need to be allocated to ensure the success of the service plans?

All the while, the research results and service plans should be kept visible. They should be discussed at meetings with appropriate visuals and props. They should be distributed to employees as appropriate. In the very near future, consideration should be given to disseminating the results and service plans via the internal corporate intranet, and periodically pointing employees to the appropriate URLs via e-mail reminder messages. Successes should be shared, and unmet goals should be highlighted, whether through an intranet or a more low-tech solution.