Customer Loyalty/Voice of the Customer

Effective customer management is one of the most difficult tasks any business faces.  It requires

— Understanding what customers expect from you
— Meeting or exceeding those expectations
— Being courteous/professional in all contacts with them — regardless of how aggravating they can be

Measurement is an essential point of management. When you measure whether you are meeting customer expectations, you need to keep in mind —

— Measurement has to be professional and courteous. What you do reflects on you. What your vendor does reflects on you.
— Customers want to be taken seriously. Efforts that are hasty or sloppy imply disrespect.
— Customers don’t want to waste their time. When you do measurement, you need to provide feedback on what you have learned, so that customers know they are being heard.
— You need to put the effort in to maximize customer participation. What you hear from a few customers may be quite misleading.
— Metrics need to be holistic. You need to address all areas that could affect satisfaction. You also need to give customers the chance to express themselves in their own words. That’s part of respect.
— Customer don’t expect perfection. How you handle their problems makes all the difference. Measurement needs to include all aspect of remediation.

The terminology for this research has changed over the decades, from customer satisfaction measurement to customer loyalty to voice-of-the-customer research. “Net promoter” research is just one variant of the basic methodology. While the wording has changed, the basic concepts are the same.

There are two categories of customer measurement:

(1) Strategic research, focusing on the overall relationship with the customer and the likelihood of retention of that relationship.

(2) Transactional measurement, which focuses on specific events and how well those events were conducted. That could be a specific visit to a doctor’s office or restaurant, or a sales or service call.

We’ve been involved in customer satisfaction research since 1980. We use a range of techniques to achieve reliable information


— Hybrid web and phone surveys
— Quantitative and semi-structured, depth interviewing
— A lot of personal contact to assure high response rates, especially among key customers

Recent and on-going projects include:

— An on-going tracking program for a major government logistics services provider, which included interviews conducted in the US, the Middle East and other locations
— A study among clients of a Chinese contract software developer  (interviewing in the US, India, China and other location)
— A tracking study among recently released patients of a major in-patient rehabilitation facility in the New York Metro area