In September, I conducted my main research at the first participating organization, once again looking at the factors which steer customer satisfaction in their contact with customer service. A number of interesting differences became apparent versus the preliminary research, which now offer better insight into the underlying sentiments of customers. The preliminary research presented eight factors which influence customer satisfaction and which accounted for no less than 79% of that satisfaction. The first main research also produced eight factors, with a comparably high justification of the customer satisfaction (74%). However, deeper analysis of the factors based on the data of this first participant, showed two things:
– two factors took on a somewhat different meaning than was apparent in the preliminary research.
– the relationships between the factors were slightly different to the preliminary research.

Attention is relevant

I’d now like to move on to the underlying significance of the factors. During the preliminary research, I discovered two factors which I named ‘Behavior’ and ‘Knowledge of and Trust in’. Deeper analysis of these factors, based on the data from this first participant, shows that these names do not quite cover the context. The data has shown the following items to be particularly important for the first factor:
– The employee gives me personal attention
– The employee makes me feel my question is important
– The employee could step into my shoes
– The employee is interested
– The employee takes me seriously
Working on the basis of these items, it is therefore clear that ‘Behavior’ does not really sufficiently describe the context, which is more about ‘Individual attention’.

Problem-solving capacity

The ‘Knowledge of and Trust in’ factor comprises quite a few items, a number of which have proven themselves to be strongly determinative:
– The employee is proficient
– The employee can answer all my questions
– I can trust in the know-how of the employee
– When telephoning an employee, my question is answered first time around
– On receiving an answer from the employee, I can trust it to be correct
Once again, ‘Knowledge of and Trust in’ does not cover the context correctly. This time around, it is more specifically ‘Trust in problem-solving capacity’. And in the preliminary research, this factor once again has the greatest impact on customer satisfaction, while ‘Individual attention’ has the greatest impact on this trust in the problem-solving capacity.

Importance of trust

This means that when customers feel that employees have attention for them personally and their situation, it has a great impact on their trust in the problem-solving capacity of the customer service department. The fact that this trust in the problem-solving capacity has the greatest impact on satisfaction seems pretty logical to me, as that’s the reason why customers seek contact with customer service to start with.
Of course, these are the results of the first participant alone, and the next round of research will show whether these results are confirmed (more than once) or whether other aspects apply at the individual organizations after all. However, the results immediately give more insight into the sentiment among customers, and exactly what is important in order to make a positive impression following contact with the customer service.

The main research now also establishes the relationship between satisfaction with customer service and matters such as customer trust in customer service. But also the impact of these experiences with customer service on the trust and loyalty shown towards the organization as a whole. This gives some very interesting results, but I’ll keep you on tenterhooks for now, and explain them in the following column


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