Manufacturing

Is 100% Customer Satisfaction Worth it for a Manufacturer?

Customer Satisfaction and Manufacturing

This past week, I came across an article which explored how one luxury auto manufacturer looked to achieve 100% customer satisfaction. To me this seems like a goal off a billboard or one found on a motivational poster in a contact center. But this manufacturer truly believes it can and should have this as its target to be measured and be held to account.

This past week, I came across an article which explored how one luxury auto manufacturer looked to achieve 100% customer satisfaction. To me this seems like a goal off a billboard or one found on a motivational poster in a contact center. But this manufacturer truly believes it can and should have this as its target to be measured and be held to account.

Call me a cynic, but I don’t think 100% customer satisfaction should be the goal for a manufacturer which looks to scale and grow its business. In a global world of millions of customers, it is impossible to satisfy everyone. The sentiment is one to aspire towards, but sometimes customers will not be happy with the service they receive or the product they purchased. And sometimes customer expectations, as they rise, become too costly to support. Don’t forget, the customer is not a homogeneous group which all look at satisfaction through the same lens. Instead of attempting to satisfy every customer, manufacturers should look to create experiences that customers want and value as their goal. As you think about the satisfaction vs. value delivered debate, I recommend manufacturers ponder a couple of thoughts below as they look to achieve their goal – a customer who wants to continue to work with them.

Know your customers – A customer feedback survey is just one way to better understand your customers. To truly know your customers and thus reach for goals of satisfaction, retention, and engagement, manufacturers must equip the field team and customer support staff with the tools to capture valuable customer insights. Too often the field visit or customer support call is a transaction delivered on script; followed up by a customer satisfaction survey. This can miss opportunities within these engagements to unearth customer needs, and learn what your customers expect from the service organization. Again, 100% satisfaction shouldn’t be the goal. A better goal should be understanding 100% of your customers and having a workforce that looks to elicit insights in each interaction which benefit the organization and the customer.

Deliver value in each customer interaction – As a manufacturer, you need to focus on what matters to your customers. To be even more blunt, focus on what your customers are willing to pay for. Your customers pay for what they deem important, to them. For too long, service has been a throw in to sweeten an equipment sale or a means to add a layer of discounting. This model created a service organization which looked to maintain its quality standards while having to preserve a cost structure which couldn’t support world-class service. In today’s competitive world, customers demand, expect, and value high levels of quality service no matter what terms have been signed. In 2018, we see more manufacturers working with customers to build the “power by the hour” contract where the customer isn’t buying machines or assets with service thrown in but instead they are buying outcomes and levels of equipment or service performance. This model changes the dynamic with the customer as they are no longer buying advancements in the product which have a lifecycle of 10, 15, 20 years, they are buying lots of individual interactions with the service organization. Therefore, striving for 100% satisfaction will be difficult for the manufacturer. For this reason, I think these manufacturers must strive for delivering value in 100%, or as many as possible, of the interactions had with the customer. Value won’t always equate to satisfaction, but it will afford the manufacturer the right to retain the relationship.

Lofty goals are important and help to build a culture of excellence. But for manufacturers, you won’t be able to satisfy 100% of your customers 100% of the time. And, I don’t believe you need to. Strive to leverage your tools and team to deliver value in each interaction and that will help you reach your goals.

You can contact me directly for further discussion at apinder@idc.com. For access to additional research from the Manufacturing Insights team, please go to the following page https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=IDC_P31494

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