Customer Satisfaction-Meaning,Definition and Methods
Customer satisfaction is the degree to which a buyer is satisfied with a product, service or company.Customer satisfaction takes place in a customer head and may, but does not have to, comply with reality. People generally develop their attitudes quickly and change them very slowly. Customers may be mistaken in perceiving a product/service quality and their unreliable misperceptions then give birth to millions of buying decisions every day. Assessment of customer satisfaction is in fact assessment of how the customers perceive the company activity as a supplier. When assessing customer satisfaction, the following formula defining measurable level of customer perception can be used:
RCS = f (x) ,
where RCS means rate of customer satisfaction and x defines difference between requirements and real value.
The high rate of satisfaction is one of the guaranties of customer loyalty. In compliance with the total quality management philosophy and ISO 9000:2000 standards process approach, the organisation management should use measurement of customer satisfaction as a vitally important tool.
“It is a measure of how products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectation.”
According to Hansemark and Albinsson , “satisfaction is an overall customer attitude towards a service provider, or an emotional reaction to the difference between what customers anticipate and what they receive, regarding the fulfillment of some need, goal or desire”.
“The number of customers, or percentage of total customers, whose reported experience with a firm, its products, or its services (ratings) exceeds specified satisfaction goals.”
Methods of Customer Satisfaction
There are following methods to measure customer satisfaction:
I. Direct Methods:Directly contacting customers and getting their valuable feedback is very important. Following are some of the ways by which customers could be directly tabbed:
- Getting customer feedback through third party agencies.
- Direct marketing, in-house call centers, complaint handling department could be treated as first point of contact for getting customer feedback. These feedbacks are compiled to analyse customers’ perception.
- Getting customer feedback through face to face conversation or meeting.
- Feedback through complaint or appreciation letter.
- Direct customer feedback through surveys and questionnaires.
Organizations mostly employ external agencies to listen to their customers and provide dedicated feedback to them. These feedbacks needs to be sophisticated and in structured format so that conclusive results could be fetched out. Face to face meetings and complaint or appreciation letter engages immediate issues. The feedback received in this is not uniformed as different types of customers are addressed with different domains of questions. This hiders the analysis process to be performed accurately and consistently. Hence the best way is to implement a proper survey which consists of uniformed questionnaire to get customer feedback from well segmented customers. The design of the prepared questionnaire is an important aspect and should enclose all the essential factors of business. The questions asked should be in a way that the customer is encouraged to respond in a obvious way/. These feedback could received by the organizations can be treated as one of the best way to measure customer satisfaction.
Apart from the above methods there is another very popular direct method which is surprise market visit. By this, information regarding different segment of products and services provided to the customers could be obtained in an efficient manner. It becomes easy for the supplier to know the weak and strong aspects of products and services.
II. Indirect Method:The major drawback of direct methods is that it turns out to be very costly and requires a lot of pre compiled preparations to implement. For getting the valuable feedbacks the supplier totally depends on the customer due to which they looses options and chances to take corrective measure at correct time. Hence there are other following indirect methods of getting feedback regarding customer satisfaction:
- Customer Complaints:Customer’s complaints are the issues and problems reported by the customer to supplier with regards to any specific product or related service. These complaints can be classified under different segments according to the severity and department. If the complaints under a particular segment go high in a specific period of time then the performance of the organization is degrading in that specific area or segment. But if the complaints diminish in a specific period of time then that means the organization is performing well and customer satisfaction level is also higher.
- Customer Loyalty:It is necessarily required for an organization to interact and communicate with customers on a regular basis to increase customer loyalty. In these interactions and communications it is required to learn and determine all individual customer needs and respond accordingly. A customer is said to be loyal if he revisits supplier on regular basis for purchases. These loyal customers are the satisfied ones and hence they are bounded with a relationship with the supplier. Hence by obtaining the customer loyalty index, suppliers can indirectly measure customer satisfaction.