Five landmines in customer satisfaction

Every business that wants to succeed pays attention to certain metrics, such as the net promoter score. While having detailed metrics is important, it is vital to realise that promotional decisions cannot be made using metrics alone. The reason is that what shows up in the metrics can be wrong in ways that have nothing to do with the usual margin of error – thus leading us to the five landmines in customer satisfaction.

Five landmines in customer satisfaction

There are certain landmines in customer relations that can blow up in your face if you’re not careful. The reason they are called landmines is because they are hard to understand and almost invisible within the metrics. Consequently, they are hard to find and can prove destructive.

The 5 landmines in customer satifsaction

1. What the customer thinks is important

The first landmine is importance. What the customer thinks is important can have considerable effect. But, this is more than just satisfying the customer by delivering products or services on time and at reasonable prices. There are a number of factors involved in importances, these include but are not limited to cultural norms.

For example,  the tendency is for an American customer to simply tell you what he wants. Americans value forthrightness, even at the risk of being offensive. 

On the other hand, a Chinese customer may infer what he wants, rather than tell you outright. The reason for this is that Chinese culture is highly contextual, that is context (how something is said or done) matters as much as what is said or done. Consequently, the provider is expected to be wise and experienced enough to understand what the customer implies.

The above example is only one form of the problem. There can be as many variations as the many different things that customers think are important. So, it’s important to know your customer as well as you possibly can.

2. The hidden customer standard

The next landmine is the hidden standard. This is a standard that the customer expects you to live up to but neglects to tell you about. It isn’t that the customer is being coy, it’s just that the idea of telling you never comes up or the customer thinks you already know. This can present a problem in day to day customer relations, as no company deals only with one customer, and different customers can have different hidden standards. The best way to deal with hidden standards is to keep the lines of communication open and put your best listeners in customer facing positions.

3. The Internet

The Internet is another landmine. This may seem odd as it’s the Internet that brings conversions. The problem is that your company is never alone on the Internet and it is very easy for competitors to entice your customers away with special deals. It’s also possible for  your customers to wander off simply because your website gets lost in a pile of bookmarks on a disorganised browser. It’s then easier for the customer to simply punch in keywords and do a new search. This is one of the reasons why ranking high in the SERPs is important.Five landmines in customer satisfaction

4. Bureaucracy / company policy

Bureaucracy is the fourth landmine. It’s very tempting to put company policy above customer satisfaction. After all, employees must deal with internal operations on a daily basis, while they don’t usually see the same customers every day. It then becomes easy to put the company’s needs above the customer’s needs. This can be countered by employee engagement and not burdening employees with unnecessary or confusing directives.

5. Digital technology

The final landmine is digital technology. While digital makes selling on the global market possible, one should never forget that IT isn’t perfect. This is why there should always be human backup to any technology that interfaces with the customer. Websites should be backed up by ways to contact real people and customer service phone lines should have the option to bypass automation and go directly to an actual person.

While these landmines can be troublesome, they don’t have to be fatal. It’s  a matter of realising that customer relations is an ongoing activity that can always be improved.