Do You Measure Customer Service By Satisfaction or by Complaints?


When it comes to business, measuring is an integral part of success. While measuring sales, marketing even web visitors is common, many businesses fail to recognize the need to measure customers service… and with good reason.

Measuring customer service is hard and quite honestly, most businesses are not created with customer service as part of their business DNA.

Customer service as part of a company’s DNA is the absolute best description of what it takes to truly deliver on the customer service front… and it’s so not mine. That phrase totally belongs to Ben Yaskovitz. It’s in Tip #4 of his latest blog post Using Great Customer Service as a Differentiator.

What an elegant, descriptive way to describe the perfect delivery of exceptional customer service.

Ben goes on to tell of his own customer service testimonials from his start up Standout Jobs.

Exceptional customer service has earned him not only testimonials but also new sign ups for the service. Obviously customer service is part of the Standout Jobs DNA.

This really contrasts with my own experience with another start up. However, a more recent and horrible tale is tole by Marketing Pilgrim Andy Beal who writes a tale of customer service gone bad with his blog post Office Depot Joins the Reputation Deadpool.

In a nutshell, Office Depot put out some ATTRACTIVE bait to capture a new customer by offering a great limited time offer of a special low-low price on a Toshiba Laptop. That’s the way it works. A a business, you entice a customer to try your product or service with an offer that is too good to resist. Office Depot even sweetened the already sweet deal by offering next day shipping. You can’t build a successful business on profit margins this thin, but it’s necessary to win new customers.

Then, as you fulfill the order, you amaze the customer. You meet or exceed their expectations with the hope of winning that customer as a steady customer for life… or at least, the next few years.

In Andy’s case, Office Depot was trying to woo him away from his “steady” office superstore, Staples. At the very least Andy expects flowers, a nice dinner and a movie. Poetry, a moonlight gondola ride and ridiculously expensive champagne would have sealed Staple’s fate as soon to be “used to be”. Instead, Andy was stood up and then sent a bill for flowers he never saw and a dinner he never ate. Andy’s devotion to Staples has grown ten fold as a result of the experience. Meanwhile, Office Depot’s brand is being drug through the streets after being tarred and feathered.

Obviously customer service is NOT part of Office Depot’s DNA.

Kelly over at Maxiumum Customer Experience writes:

Your customers are skeptical. There are customers who want you to provide delight, and then there’s this lady. Depending on your industry, there may be thousands lined up behind her. At this point she’s not looking for delight. She’ll take a discount or some other special offer, but what I heard in her voice says it’s not what she’s looking for.

She wants to know somebody at this company cares.

BRAVO Kelly!!! That’s a hit the nail square on the head kind of observation!!!

Does anyone at your company care?

Trust me, if there isn’t anyone who cares, it’s going to show. It’s surprising how a truly sympathetic ear can take the edge off of the burning rage that builds when you feel you’ve been reduced to a number.

How do you measure customer service?

Leadership Tools offers these as ways to measure customer service quality.

  • Customer Attrition Ratio = number of customers leaving / total number of customers (for the same time period) – the higher the ratio, the less likely it is that your company is consistently delivering quality customer service.
  • Sales Growth – your reputation precedes you. If people are still buying from you, and referring others, chances are they are happy with the service and they are loyal to your organization.
  • Customer Survey Results – directly asking customers to rate the service level they receive is by far the best way to measure service quality.
  • Customer Complaints – be thankful for each complaint that comes to your attention. You can only provide a thoughtful response to customer issues once you are made aware of the issue. When customer’s complain they represent not just their issue, but perhaps an issue that is affecting others.

However, it’s all for naught if customer service isn’t part of your company’s DNA. It’s cool to care about your customers. Pass it on!

Good Quality Customer Service

As business owners, providing good quality customer service should be a top priority.

One thing about Web 2.0… when your customers don’t experience good quality customer service, they can usually find someone who is blogging about either the product or service you provide OR about rotten customer service experiences. Even if your upset customer isn’t a blogger, he or she can surely comment on a few hundred blogs easily enough, including the ones maintained by your local media outlets.

Catherine Lawson shares 4 Amazingly Stupid Ways To Lose Customers and can’t help but sharing the business that inspired her to write the list.

Steven Bradley over at VanSEODesign writes in his post Practicing Good Customer Service Is The Best Way To Market It

It’s hard to find a business nowadays that doesn’t claim to provide excellent service, but how many really do?

You can claim all you want that you care about your customers, but unless you really do those claims are worthless.

Marketing it as good won’t change the fact that the service is awful. And when your customers talk about it they going to tell others about their bad experience.

I’ve been battling customer service demons left and right lately. The most recent was last Thursday. It began when my home phone rang and I answered it. On the other end of the line was a college recruiter who wanted to speak to my soon to be a senior in high school son about playing football (on scholarship) for their university. Unfortunately, the next six phone calls in the next few hours were not college scouts but rather telemarketers. Three of those phone calls were from Cooking Light Magazine.

I had subscribed to Cooking Light Magazine to help support the organization that runs the football kicking combines in which my son competes. Because I had subscribed in that manner, they had my phone number. What a horrible, AWFUL mistake.

This is the SECOND time Cooking Light Magazine has unleashed their demon dialer upon me. Last month, my phone began to ring incessantly. Hanging up or ignoring the calls seemed to be interpreted as a sign to “call more often”. After two days of this, I answered the phone and ran the gauntlet. I listened patiently and pushed buttons to indicate I wouldn’t be renewing my subscription which expired 6 months from that time. Now, it’s happening again!

I was enraged. I went to the Cooking Light Magazine website to get a number for customer service. THERE ISN’T ONE LISTED! I dug out the last issue and after much searching, found the phone number in 2 point arial font on the last page of the magazine. I called and was subjected to yet another push button automated guantlet.

As I struggle through this, I have the subscription services page up for Cooking Light Magazine. There I see that their “sister” publications are:

–Coastal Living – for people who love the coast
–Health – America’s best source for women
–Southern Living – the best of the South
–Southern Accents – fine interiors & gardens

DARN! I like ALL of those magazines and right now, I’ll be da@ned if I will EVER buy or subscribe to ANY of them.

When I finally reach a human, she’s begins by asking me if I’d like to share my email address with them.

“HELL NO! ” was my enthusiastic response. “I’m sorry that you have my phone number! Why in the WORLD would I give you my email address as well?”

She’s confused by my anger. She doesn’t understand why I don’t want to get five or more automated calls a day for weeks on end. When I ask for my number to be removed, I’m told it will take 90 days.

So, for the next 3 months, I can expect to experience times where I can either have my phone ring off the hook or I can spend 15 minutes to listen to pre-recorded spiels trying to get me to renew my subscription to a magazine.

My name is on the roles… they think I’m a customer. But I’m not. I’ll never purchase their magazine again because of the treatment at the hands of their customer service department. Instead of a customer, they’ve created an enemy. Just as the businesses Catherine writes about in her post about losing customers have created enemies as well.

Writing this post reminded me of when Patrick wrote about a customer service disaster with Ingram-Micro: Unfriendly to Small Business?

Think those rant style blog posts don’t stick in readers’ heads? Think again!

In Patrick’s case, he got a prompt apology from Justin Crotty, VP of North American Operations.

Nobody’s perfect. Good quality customer service is often a goal rather than a reality. However, in the case of Ingram Micro, they are actively managing their “brand” and standing behind their stated desire to provide good quality customer service. Justin illustrated how sometimes a customer service disaster can actually demonstrate your dedication to providing good quality customer service! I know I was impressed to see Justin’s prompt reply to Patrick’s post.

Joan Elias was the owner of the ad agency that gave me my break. She used to say, ” A satisfied customer will tell 3 people. A dissatisfied customer will tell 12.” Recent research puts that figure at closer to 16… and that’s without factoring in the power of Web 2.0.

There’s a lot of talk about “branding”… well branding is nothing more than a customer’s experience with your company, pure and simple!