Measuring customer satisfaction has far wider ramifications than merely knowing that they had a smile on their face once they’d made their purchase. A company’s very existence can depend on it.

It is, of course, gratifying to know that the product or service you have worked so hard to create is sufficiently well received to ensure repeat business and, if you’re lucky, to build a great reputation. There are, however, more fundamental reasons to care about what your customers think.

Why do I need this?

Whether or not you measure customer satisfaction, or are required to within your field, there are industries which offer little choice in this regard. Firms which carry a qualitative accreditation, such as those of the International Standards Organisation (ISO), or other sector-specific accreditations in such fields as IT or health, will be held to account during audits and measured against specific criteria when it comes to customer satisfaction. A failure to meet the levels expected can have serious consequences for them, such as failing the audit and even losing their accreditation. In turn, some of their clients will have a policy of not using (or not being allowed to use) a company which does not meet the standard.

The requirements of ISO 9001:2015, for example, call for a performance measurement system to be in place to record, monitor and measure everything from customers’ complaints and rejections, through to trends for on-time delivery, customer surveys and scorecards. Not only must firms collect this data, but they have an obligation to analyse the results and effectiveness of the system.

This may seem somewhat onerous, but companies already used to the quality system find that maintaining it brings the added advantage of habitual good housekeeping. This ensures an almost guaranteed level of quality in the context of products and services and helps to quickly identify the source of a complaint or fault when it does arise. Thousands of new businesses of all sizes apply for accreditation every year, especially if they are hoping to gain lucrative long-term work, particularly in the public sector. You may even wish to do the same yourself at some stage.

Does repeat business mean satisfied customers?

So, you already know that many of your customers return with repeat business. That must mean they love what they’re getting, right? Not necessarily.

There are a variety of reasons why customers return, not all of them positive. Could it be that there are no alternatives in your location? If so, they may begin to look elsewhere or move to a competitor new to the area. Could it be that the person making the purse-string decisions is lazy and hasn’t bothered to look for alternatives? If that’s the reason, then a change in staff could well bring with it a search for another supplier. Finally, could it be that you are the cheapest? It may surprise you to learn that many companies are actually prepared to pay a little more for better service and it may only be a matter of time before your clients chose to do precisely that.

One way to know for sure how satisfied your customers are is to have a satisfaction process in place, to monitor it, analyse it and then act on the results. You will be repaid in more ways than you might imagine.