Customer Satisfaction Depends On Service Consistency
If you had to name the three most important ingredients to trigger customer satisfaction, what would they be? Offering an easy experience without any difficulty? Knowledgeable employees that easily answer customer questions? Great prices?
Consulting firm McKinsey believes that the answer is really just three Cs – consistency, consistency, and consistency. This sounds like the alliterative repetition a politician might use; what do they really mean?
This McKinsey research features feedback from over 27,000 American consumers across 14 industries. The consulting firm noticed that satisfaction is not just driven by the experience of the purchase alone, rather it is measured by many small interactions across many different channels. The customer journey from initial awareness of a product, to the purchase, to the experience of ownership all contribute to the total sense of satisfaction with the product or brand.
At a personal level this seems obvious. Think about the process of purchasing a new car. The advertising, the way the dealer behaves, the experience of using the car, the cost of servicing it after owning the car for a year, all these factors feed into how you feel about that product. The McKinsey research is attempting to define and quantify something that customers know without thinking about it. A brand that consistently offers a great experience at all stages in the customer relationship offers more satisfaction than a brand that is good in one area of the relationship, but poor elsewhere.
McKinsey points out that it’s possible to think of this consistency mathematically. Imagine a customer purchasing a cable TV package has 6 interactions with the company across various channels from initial research to the first bill 30 days after the TV service is switched on. If the satisfaction rate is 95% for each individual interaction then one in four customers will have already had a poor experience by the time they receive their first bill.
When McKinsey sent analysts out to visit 50 different bank branches to gauge customer satisfaction levels they documented that banks offering a variable level of service in the branches offer much less satisfaction. It is the brands that insist on a consistent service level that continually offer a great experience.
It’s also important to be consistent about the service you offer. If your brand is built on offering good quality at low prices then it will be seen as a betrayal of trust if your prices are seen to be higher than the competition. You need to be consistent about your brand message, the emotional connection with customers, and individual steps along the customer journey.
Being truly consistent at all stages in the customer journey and across all channels is a challenge, but it’s not impossible if you plan for it and use the right tools. Leave a comment here with your own thoughts on the McKinsey research or get in touch with me directly via my LinkedIn.
Upstream Works provides tools to ensure a consistent customer experience across all channels.
Photo by Sean Jackson licensed under Creative Commons.