When it comes to customer satisfaction rating, more of everything isn’t the answer. From regression analysis of years worth of customer satisfaction rating and from related works done by others, we find that customer satisfaction is driven by 3 basic factors (from stated rating studies):
- Buying experience: How easy it is to evaluate choices and complete the buying process? Customers treat buying experience as part of the product experience. While rational thinking dictates that these costs are incurred once and should be treated as sunk by the customers, research(Journal of Management Information Systems Winter 2007-08) shows that these costs remain sticky and customers treat buying experience as part of the product experience.
- Delivering what is promised: Does the product quality and its realized benefits match what was promised and most importantly what the customer expected it to be? This is not about delighting the customers are delivering more that what is promised. A customer who walks into WalMart has one set of expectation and the one who walks into Nordstrom has another. For the segment you are targeting, the product benefits must match your positioning and messaging.
- Experience when things go wrong: In the case when things go wrong, customers need support, how easy it is to get support and how they are taken care of. No customer believes things will never go wrong but the type of support they receive and how the problems are handled are what customers treat as relevant to their overall satisfaction rating. For example, a Corolla customer does not expect the dealership to send a loaner car and tow-truck for services, but a Lexus customer does.
Go head test this out today. Run a very simple survey of 4 questions to your customers, (use 1-10 scale)
- Please rate your overall satisfaction rating with our products and services.
- Please rate how satisfied you are with your buying experience (how easy it is to find what you need, evaluate options and complete the buying process)
- Please rate how satisfied you are with our product quality (meeting your expectations, delivers what was promised)
- Please rate your support experience (ease of getting help, timeliness, how you were treated)
Run a regression using (1) as dependent variable and the rest as independent variable and you will find out how relevant the 3 factors are to your own situation.
Caution: Regression analysis still only finds correlation. There are numerous lurking variables that were not fully studied. But research from other data sets make it more likely that these variables have causation relation to customer satisfaction.