By: Businessbutter  05-Apr-2012

In addition to knowing what customers value, you must collect information on customer satisfaction on an ongoing and regular basis. This tells you how successful you have been in building the relationship, dealing with any problems, creating value and keeping up with market changes.

To be meaningful, you should measure customers’ perceptions formally. This means you must have a process for asking, recording responses, and modifying the way your company goes about its business.

Some businesses make the mistake of waiting until the end of the year to ask their customers how satisfied they are. Don’t forget that your customers’ needs are constantly changing, and your competitors are not standing still. If you wait until the end of the year it could be too late.
However, a word of warning. Care should be taken when evaluating customer satisfaction surveys. Meeting your customers’ requirements may satisfy them, but satisfaction does not equate to customer loyalty. If a customer would be happier with another product, then they will switch.

Finding Out Directly From Customers…

So how do you find out what your customers value and whether they are satisfied? You must get the information directly from your current or potential customers – what they like, what they don’t like and the degree of importance your customers attach to the customer requirements listed above.

Discover how well you currently satisfy your customers’ requirements and how well your competition satisfies your customer requirements. No amount of discussing with professionals, friends or colleagues will ever replace the information from a real customer.

The main ways you can get this information are:

Ask Them
When you are dealing with existing or potential customers, strike up a conversation with them and informally ask them. Ring them and ask some questions over the phone. Or, if you can, watch what they do and how they use your products and services.

You could distribute questionnaires that ask some key questions and encourage customers to fill them out.

Focus Groups
Gather a number of your customers together, sit them down and discuss a range of issues relevant to your business.

Good information can often be obtained by reading newspapers and magazines, scanning the internet, contacting industry associations, or even commissioning specific reports from researchers.

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