Are customer satisfaction surveys worth it?

Are customer satisfaction surveys worth it?

Market researcher Roy Morgan has just released its latest customer satisfaction figures for the banking sector, and there are some surprises.

What interests me is the high level of satisfaction customers have with the big four banks. NAB leads the way on 78.2%, followed by the Commonwealth on 77.3%, Westpac 74.3% and ANZ brings up the rear with 73.2%.

These results are interesting on a number of levels. Firstly, there is a real lack of difference between the four major banks on this measure so any real point of differentiation is non-existent. It is noteworthy that the average satisfaction score across other banks (ie not the big 4) is 85% and, with the mutual sector, it is 89%. Perhaps this is one area where the big four can study, adapt and learn from the other, smaller players?

Perhaps it’s more important to focus on what exactly we are measuring with customer satisfaction. According to the measure, the score seems to be a sum of the percentage of people who are very or fairly satisfied. Is this the best a bank – or for that matter, any company – should aim for? Is it enough to have customers fairly satisfied?

The results remind me of a survey among graduate students at a university where I taught for a number of years. Again, the satisfaction scores were high but I then asked students to draw their student experience. Time and time again, the students drew pictures of being behind bars or being in a prison. Were they happy? Of course not.

My point is this: customer satisfaction surveys are a sensible and rational thing to do. But customers buy and decide on emotion.

If the banks asked, for example, ‘Was your recent customer experience enjoyable?’, or ‘Would you go on Facebook and rave about the service you just received?’, I suspect that the responses would be very different and I believe more insightful.

The other problem with these types of customer satisfaction surveys is that the banks only compare themselves with other banks (the big four with each other).

If I was the CEO of any of these banks I’d have nothing to learn from looking at the other players in my industry. There are no big, game-changing service ideas in this industry.

However, there may be in other completely unrelated industries. For example, I would send all my bank leaders to an Apple store and study what the staff does there. Or study a business like Campfire to see how they deliver products and services online.

Banks deal with people.

People make decisions on emotion. They then tend to rationalise their decision. Asking rational questions (eg: How satisfied are you?) will give you a rational response. This is neither creative nor astute and certainly will not lead to any breakthrough leaps in service delivery.


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