Designing for customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is the almost unreachable goal of every organization. Designing in processes, systems, policies, and practices that are customer centric is a challenge as it is not always clear who the customer is i.e. who the design is 'for'.

However, making an assumption that "the customer" is an individual either using a product or service of the organization, or representing the person/group/organization that does then it becomes easier to design in customer centric-ness.

A company called Get Satisfaction offers a service that connects people (customers) and companies in a way that fosters problem-solving, promotes sharing, and builds up relationships.

For an organization designer the site also provides a five point Company-Customer Pact which is the basis of a useful test of a customer centric design. If companies are clear that they have the systems, processes, and people in place to do demonstrate the following:

  1. Being human. Using a respectful, conversational voice, avoiding scripts and never using corporate doublespeak.
  2. Encouraging employees to use their real names and using a personal touch.
  3. Anticipating that problems will occur, and setting clear, public expectations in advance for how they will address (and redress) issues.
  4. Cultivating a public dialogue with customers so they feel they are being heard and to demonstrating the organization's accountability.
  5. Demonstrating their good intentions by speaking plainly, earnestly, and candidly with customers about problems that arise.

Then they are well on the way to opening the possibilities of customer satisfaction. Always assuming that the customers are willing to:

  1. Recognize that problems will occur, and give companies the information and time required to competently address issues.
  2. Share issues directly, or through a forum where the company has an opportunity to respond, so it can work with the customer to solve problems.
  3. Give companies the benefit of the doubt, and be open to what they have to say.
  4. Use their real identity, and foster their long-term reputation with the company.
  5. Be understanding. Show the respect and kindness to company reps that they'd like shown to them.