The old credo “the customer is always right” seems like a relic from a much simpler time in the business world. And while today’s businesses are fully aware that customer satisfaction is tantamount to success, it seems they aren’t able to successfully deliver it.
The new American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) numbers are out, and based on data from the first three months of the year, are down 0.8 percent. To put that into perspective, it’s one of the largest declines in the 20 years that the index has been compiled. The drop can be attributed to concerns about product quality, particularly in the automotive industry, as well as a lack of price incentives from manufacturers, according to Claes Fornell, founder and chairman of ACSI.
The numbers amount to a big problem for businesses in general, but the good news is that help is available. With so many technology options for improving and managing the customer experience, companies across the board can fairly easily turn the situation around in their favor. In fact, Gartner (News - Alert) forecasts the market for customer relationship management (CRM) solutions will reach $36.5 billion globally by 2017. That’s up from $20.6 billion spent in the first quarter of this year, with CRM leading all enterprise software categories for growth.
So while companies are clearly investing in customer satisfaction solutions, maybe the problem comes down to implementation, or failure to accurately gauge their customers’ needs. "Across the board, consumers are less pleased with the goods and services they are buying," said Fornell. "What many people are saying is that the level of service they are receiving is not as good. They have problems getting through on the phone, and they're getting poor service in the stores."
CRM and customer satisfaction solutions can’t help with inferior products, but they can certainly aid businesses in providing better levels of customer service. Customer contact is absolutely critical to smooth service delivery and can color the entire customer experience. By making better use of the software solutions available, companies can nip this problem in the bud and create more satisfied customers throughout the globe.
Edited by Alisen Downey