Customer Satisfaction is typically driven by their experience of the interaction with the organisation, or to put it another way the Quality Management process’ used by the organisation to meet the needs of the customer. The definition of quality given in ISO 9001: 2015 is;
“The degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of an object (or service) fulfill requirements”
Requirements of-course are the needs and expectations generally stated, often implied or obligatory in nature (obligatory – you just cant duck them even though they haven’t been clearly stated , so don’t even go there is my best advice). Products and services therefore must conform to customer expectations including those expectations they haven’t mentioned but could reasonably expect to be included (the packaging is appropriate for the kind and type of transportation, or toys are CE marked, or the cup of coffee is hot but not scolding…. and so on).
Its possibly a reasonable expectation that the organisation will go beyond the minimum level of customer expectation, so ensuring basic customer needs are met. But how far over to go? Too far and you’ll be well into the realms of giving away product or effort that could have a commercial value, too little and you run the very real risk of under performing, or worse still an alternative supplier providing a better value for money product or service than you do. And believe me on this one its very hard to pull back for this position, not impossible just really difficult.
Achieving Sustained Customer Satisfaction
The most effective way of achieving sustained customer satisfaction is to be in a position where you’re able to anticipate customer need and be prepared to deliver on it. The focus is on achieving overall satisfaction from before the customer even gives an instruction or indicates they will be making a purchase. Particular attention should be placed on ‘customer focus’ in all dealings with customers both new and repeat and on ‘relationship management’ activities.
The context the organisation finds itself in is constantly changing and shifting so when considering strategy typically organisations will have a short-term, medium-term and long-term strategy. For sustained customer satisfaction the emphasis has to be on the long-term strategy above the others.
- Regularly monitor, analyse, evaluate and review the organisations context (both internal and external) so that all interested parties (used to be stakeholders) are identified and their needs understood and accounted for
- Clearly communicate the organisations’ Mission, Vision, Values and promote the alignment of the organisational culture around these concepts
- Figure out what the long-term and short-term business risks are and understand their potential impact on your organisation and therefore overall customer satisfaction
- Communicate clearly the organisational Policies, Strategy and Objectives. In many respects objectives that reflect what has been determined as the most important aspects of product and service delivery are at the heart of customer satisfaction achievement
- Operate and manage your processes so that they are aligned with meeting customer needs and expectations taking account of all other interested parties needs
- Bring resources to bear that are sufficient and suitable to achieve customer satisfaction
- Monitor, analyse and evaluate performance and act on the results
Context of the Organisation
Underpinning all customer fulfillment and customer satisfaction activities is the understanding the organisation has of itself; what internal factors may be brought to bear and what the external influences might be. It must also have a clear understanding of who the interested parties are and what their needs might be and so be in a position to address them either by positively acting to meet the needs or acting to mitigate against potentially costly and negative effects.
Internal and External Factors
- Any statutory or regulatory requirements
- Any sector specific requirements, agreements or standards
- Local competitive offers and globalization
- Social, economic, political and cultural factors
- Innovations in technology
- The environment
- Size and complexity of the organisation
- Organisational activities and processes
- Organisational strategy
- Range of products and services provided
- Performance (past)
- Resources (time, finance, people, information, equipment…)
In considering internal and external influencing factors the organisation should categorize them as either presenting an opportunity or a risk. The organisation should be considering how to implement processes to either take advantage of the opportunity or to mitigate against the risk and the consequences of the actions proposed to be taken.
Mission, Vision, Values and Culture
It is essential the organisations’ culture is aligned to the mission, vision and values and this is the responsibility of the most senior management, the decision makers.
Ideally senior management should keep under regular review the appropriateness of the mission, vision and values. The review should take account of the internal and external factors and how they impact on how the organisation is able to provide sustained customer satisfaction. When necessary changes must be made but the changes should follow the pattern of review, plan, make the change, figure out what the effect of the change is and then act accordingly to either embed the change and communicate or to redirect the organisation if the change is not appropriate.
Mission – the purpose of the organisation
Vision – an aspiration of what an organisation wants to become
Values – the principles applied in shaping the organisational culture in support of the mission and vision
Culture – organisational beliefs, ethics and behaviors at play
The Role of Leadership in Customer Satisfaction
Leadership has a significant role to play in ensuring customer satisfaction is maintained. They set the tone of the organisation and how it decides on mission, vision and values – effectively then they determine in large part the culture.
A leaders job is;
- Set the organisational identity
- Promoting a culture based on trust and integrity
- Promoting teamwork
- Provide the necessary resources – time, finance, equipment, people, environment
- Provide training and give authority to act based competence
- Promote shared values, ethics and fairness
- Establishing and maintaining an organisational structure which enhances organisational competitiveness and customer satisfaction
- Support leadership at all levels of the organisation
what I offer above is in large part based on ISO 9004: 2018 with some of my own flavor added. If you feel what I describe has value to your organisation and would like help in achieving ISO 9001: 2015 or maintaining your system or just would like to enhance your customers experience but just not sure how then reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org