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October 14, 2015

Customer Satisfaction Ranked Dead Last By IT Managers

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net

What could be more important to increasing sales and growing a business than satisfied customers — especially when those customers have the ability to broadcast their feelings to the world instantly?

Ignoring them at a time when many of them have already grown huge audiences would be perilous. Yet, in Developing a Customer First Technology Strategy, Jaikumar Vijayan shared this shocking statistic: When asked to rank business priorities for the next 12 months, IT managers in Computerworld’s 2015 Forecast Study ranked customer satisfaction dead last, behind other goals such as cost containment, business process automation and optimization of existing investments. Barely 15 percent of IT heads and just 10 percent of lower-level IT pros felt that getting better acquainted with customer needs was a priority.

Are IT Managers disconnected from the process of customer usability? Do they receive no updates on how customers perceive a business and the sites they maintain? Are they not shown the results of customer satisfaction surveys conducted to ensure a business is on track with their customers? It would seem not.  Based on the results of this study, C-suite executives and especially CIOs need to get their IT departments on board.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys

The first step would be to conduct a well-designed customer satisfaction survey and ensure the entire IT department receives the results. The goal should be the identification of actionable results. Do not make the mistake of just throwing a bunch of questions out without specific goals in mind.  According to leading business research and consulting firm NBRI writing about customer satisfaction surveys: The relationship between customer satisfaction and financial performance is both direct and indirect.  Satisfied customers impact profits directly through their willingness to remain customers for a longer period of time, purchase more during that time, and pay slightly higher prices for what they perceive as a premium product.  Moreover, satisfied customers are also likely to be lower-maintenance customers, requiring fewer resources to serve, thereby indirectly decreasing the costs associated with service.  Finally, satisfied customers may help create a “buzz” about a company’s products or services, which can help build and develop an existing customer base.

Given that surveys can benefit a company financially, it makes sense to invest in both the design and the analysis of the results. Both are best performed by PhD organizational psychologists with doctoral level educations in statistics because they are trained to design survey questions to elicit meaningful responses and interpret the results to provide actionable insights.

Survey Results Specific to Ecommerce Sites

Many surveys are conducted specifically to identify issues with eCommerce sites. This is especially true if they have been built from scratch rather than using a major eCommerce platform. Sites selling products have the most to gain from surveying their buyers and especially visitors who chose not to buy. Their surveys will also be more complex.

Items to consider including in your survey:

Poorly designed checkout processes are the No. 1 issue related to eCommerce stores. Most of them can be avoided by using a major eCommerce platform or at least switching to an easy to install established eCommerce shopping cart software. Never have your shopping cart custom coded unless there is no existing software capable of handling your sales transactions. Existing solutions have been thoroughly debugged over years and are vastly less likely to fail.

Image quality is another source of customer dissatisfaction in eCommerce stores. Every product should have multiple, clear images. To paraphrase eBay expert Martha Collier: make sure your images are so good your buyers wouldn’t need to read your descriptions and your descriptions are so good your buyers would not have to see the photos.

Using Social Media to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Another area businesses avoid at their own peril is ignoring their customers on social networks. Jennifer Lonoff Schiff offers excellent advice in seven ways social media can improve customer satisfaction including this warning: Social media can be a powerful customer relationship tool, driving traffic to your brand. It can also damage your brand when not used properly.

Monitoring social mentions is an excellent method for catching issues quickly. Social interactions can be used to address customer concerns and increase customer satisfaction.

Many brands are still using social media badly. Ignoring or deleting valid comments from customers is bad form. Deleting comments on Facebook from loyal customers who share the brand’s videos or blog posts may anger your most loyal buyers. It also reduces interactions, causing Facebook to show your updates to fewer and fewer of your followers.

The goal is to increase social media interactions — not teach your customers to stop talking to you. Answer comments — don’t delete them. People want to feel heard, and if they can’t talk to you on your page they will complain even more far beyond your control. Be friendly and helpful, and use social media to find out how to make your customers even happier.

When posting on social networks, visibility is greatly increased by using colorful, interesting images. Boring stock photos are not enough. If you do not have a graphic designer on staff, at least add text to them yourself.  Even better, find designers at graphic design marketplaces like Designhill. Have a template that includes your logo created for consistency of design in the optimum sizes for each platform. Use it in all of your content.

Draw attention to informal questions you want to ask your followers in your blog and on social media by putting them on images. Encourage sharing and attract incoming links using interactive infographics. Plain text is boring wherever it appears. People love visuals. In Visual Content Tools: Using Images Effectively, Adrienne Erin shared:

When content is combined with images, it receives 94 percent more views – on average – than text-based content alone. More views mean more traffic, higher SEO rankings and more potential for conversions.

Using vivid images in everything you do is an excellent way to create more loyal, satisfied customers.


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Gail Gardner provides small business marketing strategy at GrowMap.com. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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