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Quality and Customer Service -- the Ultimate Competitive Advantage

Customer satisfaction surveys and employee satisfaction surveys identify customer requirements

One of the best ways for companies in any industry to compete effectively, to increase customer satisfaction and earn customer loyalty is to provide outstanding quality products and services that are supported with exceptional customer service. In the everyday fog of running a company, it is easy to lose sight of the need to provide quality and customer service excellence on a consistent basis.
Using customer satisfaction surveys to gather information and perceptions from customers is a cost effective way to measure customer service, quality and customer satisfaction levels and to track ongoing progress. At many businesses, call centers or customer service centers are the place where customers contact for customer service and problem resolution. For these companies, conducting call center customer satisfaction surveys periodically or on an ongoing basis is a great way to monitor customer satisfaction with customer service, quality and other important product and service issues.
Customers make purchasing decisions based on their experiences, recommendations, product/service and company reputations and in some cases based on research. Think about it. What do customers do when they get ready to buy a car, buy clothing, choose a restaurant for dinner or they decide to replace their smart phone? Quality, customer service and reliability are key issues that are considered when making these and most other purchasing decisions.
The cost of poor quality and customer service is often hidden, and it is always high. Many business owners and managers believe that their companies can't afford to provide quality and customer service excellence. In reality, the opposite is true. No company can afford to achieve customer service and quality excellence on a long-term, consistent basis.
It is true that the cost of building quality and customer service excellence into products and services is higher than not doing so, including the cost of using better technology and processes, better materials, and other inputs, and providing employee training and focusing on keeping employees satisfied and engaged. However, the cost of not providing quality and customer service excellence is even greater in terms of the cost of customer attrition, customers you never get because of your poor quality and service, the cost associated with fixing quality problems and the cost of additional customer service needed to resolve problems encountered by customers.
A great definition of quality is "conforming to customer requirements". It is all about identifying your current and prospective customers' needs and expectations and then identifying and executing on actions that meet or exceed customer requirements on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to realize the need for achieving quality and customer service excellence.

Customer satisfaction surveys/customer opinion surveys and employee satisfaction surveys/employee engagement surveys are cost-effective solutions for identifying customer requirements

It is really not that hard to do, but most companies fall short in identifying and meeting customer requirements. In many cases, they simply do not ask customers about their needs and expectations, and even when they do understand customer requirements, they often fail in execution. Many companies do not conduct customer satisfaction surveys or customer opinion surveys to gather information and insight from their customers, and they don't conduct employee satisfaction surveys or employee engagement surveys to gather information, perceptions and suggestions from their employees. These are missed opportunities.
You can also conduct quality surveys and customer service surveys that focus only on these key drivers of customer satisfaction. Given the importance of information technology in running most businesses, you should also consider conducting IT customer satisfaction surveys to identify IT customer expectations and satisfaction levels with IT services and support. Quantisoft provides a wide range of surveys and related information for measuring customer requirements and customer requirements.
While customer surveys and employee surveys are very important for identifying customer requirements, surveys are only the starting point. Customer survey and employee survey results need to be turned into action plans that focus on meeting or exceeding customer requirements and achieving consistently high levels of quality and service excellence.
It was this inability to grasp the need for quality and customer service excellence, and then execute on that need that almost killed the American automobile industry. The same is true for countless other industries and individual businesses, including restaurants, retail stores, manufacturers, technology companies, hospitals, banks, universities and any other kind of business.
If your company, or the products and services your company produces and/or sells have a poor track record or reputation regarding quality and service, you are definitely losing business to your customers. It is also costing you more money to run your business.

A final thought about Quality, Customer Service and Customer Satisfaction

If your Fortune 500, middle market or small business is not providing your customers with consistently high levels of quality and customer service, you have a great opportunity to increase your customer satisfaction and loyalty, your employee and business performance, and your bottom line. Start by conducting and a customer satisfaction survey and an employee satisfaction survey in order to identify customer requirements and to gather information and insight for making needed changes to achieve quality and service excellence. Then create an action plan, execute the plan well and follow up with annual customer surveys and employee surveys to assess progress and identify new customer requirements as customer needs change over time.
As Philip Crosby said in his book Quality is Free, the cost of conforming to customer requirements is less than the cost of not conforming to customer requirements. Crosby said that the "cost of quality" equals the "cost of conformance" minus the "cost of non-conformance" to customer requirements. The bottom line: the cost of preventing poor quality and customer service and for building quality into products and services is less than the cost associated with providing poor quality and customer service. The net difference between cost of conformance and non conformance is profit. That is why Crosby said "quality is free."
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