Last Updated on February 13, 2017
Category: All, Business, Charities, Customer Insight, Social Housing

An article by the Harvard Business School challenges the idea that ‘Overall Satisfaction’ is the most appropriate target to use when measuring service delivery standards. Should you be trying to delight your customers?

When landlords receive feedback from their tenants through transactional surveys (experience of a specific recent service) or satisfaction surveys (general satisfaction of the organisation over a period of time), they are often unsure how they should use the information to improve the services they provide.

The article suggests there is little value in trying to provide ‘exceptional levels of service’ when most customers would be perfectly happy with a basic level of service delivered consistently and well.

Trying to ‘delight’ your customers by exceeding their expectations may be an inefficient use of resources.

Exceeding expectations makes customers only marginally more loyal than simply meeting their needs. However, reducing the effort a customer must make to get their problem solved does build loyalty and satisfaction. Acting on this insight can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs and increase loyalty.

Only 23% of customers who have had a positive service experience are likely to tell 10 or more people about it whereas 48% of customers who have had a negative service experience are likely to tell 10 or more people about it.

When it comes to service improvement, focus on helping customers to solve their problems quickly and easily.

‘Easy’ means removing obstacles like having to contact you repeatedly, having to repeat information or having to switch channels (e.g. trying unsuccessfully to solve a problem online and having to switch to phoning you).

If seeking feedback, the article suggests that you should ask “How much effort did you personally have to put in to handling your request?” using a scale from 1 (very low effort) to 5 (very high effort).

This question is shown to be a very strong predictor of customer behaviour:

  • Of those who reported that they only had to put in a ‘Low effort’ to resolve their issue, only 1% said they would speak negatively about the organisation;
  • Of those who reported that they needed to put in a ‘High effort’, 81% said they intended to spread negative comments by word of mouth.

You can read the  Harvard Business Review article in full, which gives many practical examples of how organisations have responded to this insight and made big savings and improvements to services.