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Uncertain Managers Do Not Know if Customers are Satisfied

Mar 21, 2018 | Blog

Customer Dissatisfaction – How Do We Know?

Business owners and uncertain managers have a dangerous false confidence. Specifically, they are guilty of thinking they KNOW customer satisfaction levels without supporting evidence. Researchers in a new study at the Kelley School of Business present a disconnect between these uncertain managers and their customers. More worryingly perhaps, is that managers do not understand the drivers behind customer satisfaction and loyalty. This means managers simply do not know customers satisfaction rates – but act as if they do!

In fact, senior managers at top corporations often fail to understand the feedback and expectations of their customers. This is despite spending millions gathering data related to customer satisfaction. Gartner date from 10 years ago supports this. Particularly that:

While 95% of US businesses collect customer feedback, only 10% of those actually did anything with it! 

The rest of the data is below. Where does your business fall?

Failure to Act on Customer Feedback












For example, when you get asked by the restaurant staff if everything is all right. We invariably answer ‘Yes‘ – when we know the food is just dirt. Yet we say nothing and murmur – “It’s fine”. So the staff now thinks all is OK when we know we will never return, and may even complain online. Moreover, the first the management will hear of it is the day after without having an opportunity to fix the issue. Perhaps more importantly, it is too late to recover the unhappy, dissatisfied customer.

Evidently, the uncertain managers are a danger to the well-being of the business.

But We Already Have Satisfaction Measurement Don’t We?

Most of the large consumer-focused firms in the study sample have customer-satisfaction monitoring and feedback systems in place and invest heavily in them. So what is the issue? The researchers believe that managers aren’t exposed to the right customer feedback data or they aren’t understanding it accurately.

“That means that there are customer satisfaction problems do not get solved, because managers don’t know or don’t believe that they exist. Even if they did, they try fixing the wrong things.”

Overly optimistic managers are likely to miss trouble signs when they appear. In addition, managers significantly underestimate the proportion of customers who have complained about the firm’s products or services in the recent past.

“For uncertain managers, the results of our study should serve as a wake-up call that all is not well with most firms’ customer satisfaction and complaint monitoring systems,”. They continue: “Despite often being the single biggest line-item of most firms’ market research expenditures, existing customer feedback systems are not performing an effective management control role.”

There are more troubling outcomes – terrible statistics – here.

So let us not be confident or arrogant or misled and let us not have uncertain managers. Use a tool that gets immediate feedback and allows you to correct the issue and salvage the customer. Lose the opinion, use the data, and remove the uncertainty.


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