Prioritizing Unhappiest Customers May Be Costing You
November 29, 2016
November 29, 2016
The most universal rule of effective customer service strategy is that it is people focused, but data driven. When it comes to qualitative data, that usually takes the form of customer satisfaction survey results. With the popular five-box model of customer satisfaction, customers are separated into the following groups: “very satisfied” (top), “satisfied,” “neutral,” “dissatisfied” and “very dissatisfied” (bottom). We’ll look at why prioritizing unhappiest customers may not be the proper strategy.
However, many firms misinterpret this data thanks to the prevalence of Customer Satisfaction Myth #1: Your unhappiest customers should always take first priority. The truth is prioritizing unhappiest customers can be costing you business.
Research has found that focusing on the middle three boxes (satisfied, neutral and dissatisfied) rather than the bottom three (neutral, dissatisfied and very dissatisfied) leads to better customer engagement. Despite this, many businesses still divert a disproportionate amount of resources to the bottom box. Why is that?
A lot of it comes down to the old adage: “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Serving the loudest complainer is a practice that’s been ingrained in our culture, no matter how frustrating that may be for us quieter wheels.
Another reason why companies spend a lot of time and resources trying to make dissatisfied customers happy is based on the service recovery paradox. This is the observation that customers have a better opinion of a company that has corrected a problem than they would have if there were no issues with the product or service in the first place.
While this paradox is backed by good research, its application needs to be paired with proper cost-benefit analysis. Additionally, for some customers, no amount of “service recovery” will raise their opinion of your company. This is especially true for the rare instance in which there was no real fault in a bottom-box customer’s service to begin with.
For better customer satisfaction, learn how to tell the difference between rare exceptions and systemic problems. While unhappy outliers shouldn’t be completely ignored, they shouldn’t be catered to, either. Remember that the bottom box doesn’t reflect how all — or even most — of your customers feel. Radically changing a system to appease your unhappiest customers will likely cost you some currently happy ones.
To make sure bottom-box outliers don’t misinform your customer engagement methods, keep the following in mind:
Above all, remember that objective data trumps conventional wisdom, even in contexts where soft skills are crucial. However, we at SYKES recognize that accurate data collection and analysis are tough. That’s why we’re here to provide your business with the customer engagement tools it needs to succeed.