Improve Customer Experiences by Understanding What Users Want and Need

The ability for a service organization to maintain an acceptable level of customer satisfaction and deliver a reasonable customer experience begins with a company’s understanding of what its customers need, want, and expect. When customer expectations are not well known or more importantly not managed – the instances of dissatisfaction will rise. This article describes the factors that affect customer satisfaction and experience levels.

Satisfiers & Dissatisfiers

Availability of Service

Customers’ expect support to be available when they need it. This means that regardless of when the customer needs help they should be able to get it.  This includes both service hours as well as the policies and programs that define entitlement to services.

Satisfiers

  • Robust self-help resources.
  • Free (or included) assisted support.
  • Generous warranty and support policies.
  • 7 x 24 x 365 coverage.
Dissatisfiers

  • Restrictive support policies.
  • Limited service hours.
  • Costly service fees.
  • Poor self-help resources.

Knowledge of Service Representative

Customers expect that when they contact you for support the person that provides assistance is knowledgeable and capable of resolving the issue in a timely manner.

There is nothing worse than a situation where the customer feels that they know more than the “expert” providing assistance.

Satisfiers

  • Skilled support reps.
  • Empathetic.
  • Empowered.
Dissatisfiers

  • Unfamiliar with the product.
  • Needs to escalate to someone else.
  • Unable to comprehend problem.

Rapid Response

We live in a world where we expect instant gratification.  Customers expect their problem to be acknowledged quickly and that a response will be provided in a reasonable time.

Satisfiers

  • Immediate acknowledgement of problem submission.
  • Expectations set for the time it will take to get help.
  • Response and follow-up within timeframe established.
Dissatisfiers

  • No acknowledgement (e.g. e-mail or web-based cases).
  • Excessive amount of time to receive a response.
  • Failure to set or meet expectations.

Professionalism

Customers want to be treated respectfully.  Most service organizations place a significant emphasis on soft skills, but all it takes is for a customer to feel like they have been slighted for the entire service experience to go downhill.

Satisfiers

  • Acknowledgement that there is an issue.
  • Understanding about the current relationship (e.g. the customer is important).
  • Please, thank you, and apologies when appropriate.
Dissatisfiers

  • Condescending tone.
  • Inability to defuse an escalating situation.
  • Lack of empathy.
  • Not hearing the words “sorry.”

Time to Resolution

Customers want the fastest resolution they can get and are looking for the commitment and effort to quickly work to resolve their issue.

Satisfiers

  • Expectations for the time to resolve.
  • Meeting or exceeding expectations.
  • A shared sense of urgency.
Dissatisfiers

  • No firm commitment to resolution.
  • Failure to meet expectations.
  • Lack of urgency.

Quality of Product

While not a characteristic of service excellence it is frequently cited as a characteristic of the service experience.  Customers don’t want to have to rely on Support for product quality issues, but are often appreciative of help using the product more effectively.

Satisfiers

  • Little or no need for help with errors and bugs.
  • Help using the product more effectively (how-to / application of product).
  • Proactive notification of issues.
Dissatisfiers

  • Excessive issues with product quality and performance.
  • Little to no resolution through fixes and updates.
  • Too many updates.

Complete Resolution

Customers’ expect that the solution offered is complete and effective.  Customers are seldom happy when told to try something and call back if it does not work.

Satisfiers

  • A solution that works the first time.
  • Commitment to see the issue through to resolution.
  • Ability to by-pass the normal queues to reconnect on an open issue.
Dissatisfiers

  • A sense that the rep has brushed off the issue with a suggestion.
  • Solutions that do not work.
  • The need to contact support repeatedly for the same issue.

Self-Help Resources

Customers want to help themselves on their terms and often do not want to rely on service.

Satisfiers

  • Depth and breadth of self-help resources.
  • Answers to their specific problem.
  • Easy to use (search, navigate, etc.).
Dissatisfiers

  • Limited self-help resources.
  • Difficult to use and navigate.
  • Knowledge articles that are difficult to understand.
  • Outdated resources.

Proactive Updates

Customers want to be made aware of updates with an option for their technology to be proactively updated (don’t force the update).

Satisfiers

  • The ability for products to update themselves (don’t force the update).
  • Flexibility to configure how and when products will update.
Dissatisfiers

  • Inability to configure how and when updates occur.
  • A call to support acknowledging that they know about an issue (but made no effort to communicate it proactively).
  • Updates that cause more problems than they fix.

Featured Report: How to Define, Measure and Improve Customer Satisfaction

Before you can effectively measure and improve customer satisfaction you must have a clear understanding of what satisfaction is. Satisfaction is primarily an indication that an expectation has been met. Satisfaction is a subjective measure that will vary based on the personal preferences, perceptions, and experiences of an individual. Customers typically indicate that they are satisfied when their expectations are met or exceeded. Because people will likely have different expectations, two customers that experience the same outcome or quality of service may express different levels of satisfaction.

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