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How the Rules of Customer Satisfaction Have Changed

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In this new world of ecommerce, social media, apps, far-flung call centers and virtual organizations, customer satisfaction still remains the same.


Two decades ago, I wrote that "customer satisfaction is the link between short-term success and long-term growth and prosperity." I contended that customer service would be realized by constantly asking questions and listening to the answers. Being open to customer feedback fosters loyalty, which in turn stimulates both top and bottom lines.

Good old customer satisfaction still translates into rave reviews, repeat business, top of mind and actual growth. We still want to listen and act on what we are told. What has changed though are the rules to achieving genuine customer satisfaction.

Related: Treat Them Well: 5 Keys to Lasting Customer Service

Rule 1: Speedy connectivity. We still want evaluations and surveys so we know how we are doing. But just as we are looking for quicker ways to stay connected, we are also vulnerable to a user expressing what he or she really thinks in real time on Facebook or Twitter. A groundswell of viral negativity can erase all good-intentioned efforts behind the most well thought out of campaigns.

This has led to the imperative of having resources dedicated to monitoring the customer's ever-shifting voice. There is a need to respond, appease and even counter when appropriate. We want to understand the root causes for pleasure and displeasure, and act on it. You can either be social or be ostracized.

A connected customer is an engaged customer, perhaps a most prized asset with which a business can converse to their advantage. Hashtaggers are the new instant test market. They are opinion makers. It behooves us not to squander what they have to offer.

Rule 2: Global ability. There no longer is such a thing as a local business. We are all performing on one world stage. If one wants to savor the best Bibimbap in the Gangham District of Seoul or Herald Square in Manhattan, it's just a Google, Bing, Ask or Yelp away.

Related: Listen Up: How to Respond to Customer Complaints

A satisfied customer will spread the good word far and wide. Understand that the world is always watching.

Rule 3: Discipleship. This is not about being a cult-ish culture, though the notion of the customer as the central chakra reaching every corner of the company is essential. Management must lead the way to espouse customer satisfaction as the number-one mission. If the customer is not satisfied, get to the bottom of their dissatisfaction and rectify it. Even if it costs real revenue in the short term, get beyond it and let karma prevail.

Zappos is recognized as the customer satisfaction Mecca. The online merchant calls its mission the WOW philosophy. Testimonials and ratings are off the radar. Their success with customer service and satisfaction has enabled the company to extend its business model to now include consulting and training other corporate entities to replicate its customer service/satisfaction efforts.

Who are your company's customer satisfaction apostles? Do they have the tools to indoctrinate new hires into a customer-centric way of being? Is customer satisfaction at the forefront of your company's award and acknowledgement mechanisms?

Important questions to ask. Important issues to resolve to secure high-level customer satisfaction and long-term growth and prosperity.

Customer satisfaction is attainable. Staying on top of the rules to get there remains the consistent factor.

Related: Customer Retention Begins on the Front Lines

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