Can't get no satisfaction...
September 10, 2001
OK, it's not really any surprise, but the American Customer Satisfaction Index is headed downward again and Financial Times writer Simon London summarizes the latest dismal findings.

Which begs the question, since American companies are supposedly obsessed with their customers, why are things going so wrong—for example, Northwest Airlines, which ranked second worse only to PG&E (the utility that failed to keep the lights on in California)—and only a select few like Continental Airlines and Enterprise rental cars, get it right.

London reports that big reason is:

Many companies…regard customer satisfaction as a slippery concept compared with the supposed certainty of operating margins or earnings per share. Where satisfaction is measured, it is often derived from survey data that lack clarity. The link to pay is usually weak.

…implementing a CRM system without looking at all aspects of customer service, remuneration, staffing and incentives can end in tears. The suspicion is that US companies in general have tended to pay too much attention to technology investment while neglecting human capital.

While designing better user experience is an important part of increasing customer satisfaction, it also raises issues of organization changes that are usually outside the scope (and expertise) of most user experience architects. But it's something that we need to be aware of. After all, no matter how great a shopping cart you've designed, if buyers end up waiting hours to reach a surly tech support person to answer a question about the product they purchase they're not going to be happy campers. ::

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