· Customer satisfaction is impossible to measure using the data collected by your own internal operational reporting systems
· You need to look outside your own company to find ways to regularly monitor how your customers really feel about your performance
· The most direct way to find out how your customers feel about your performance is to ask them. You will, however, need to take the following into account:
o Customers may provide unreliable answers if you ask them directly.
o You need to know who in the customers’ companies to ask. The key decision makers are needed
o You will need to establish reliable contacts and seek views at all levels in your customers’ organisations to ensure a balanced view is obtained
o Asking the customer about your performance raises expectations of improvements. Failure to deliver them may seriously harm future relationships
o To prevent this, set up a process to ensure any deficiencies can be quickly rectified, followed by a verification from the customer that the issue has been resolved
· Every customer is likely to have different requirements and priorities. You will need to know what each important customer needs from you.
· You may need to employ an independent third party to solicit unbiased opinions
· Once you have the information, you must establish a set of measures embracing the important attributes that you and your customers expect your products and services to deliver. These may include:
o Commercial – how price-competitive are your products?
o Communication – how well do you inform your employees of what is needed from them?
o Technical – how advanced is your technology? Does it perform reliably?
o Equipment – how well do your products perform in service?
o Support – how well do you respond to problems?
o Environmental impact – how much damage do your products and the way they are manufactured do to the environment