How to Spot the Warning Signs of Customer Dissatisfaction

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customer dissatisfactionAchieving customer satisfaction is a pretty low bar these days. Several research studies have shown that customer expectations of service, for many industries, are extremely low, as are their expectations of business response to their complaints. They just don’t expect much, whether it’s in-person, phone or online service. The good news is that this creates a huge opportunity for any business who wants to deliver superior customer satisfaction, to exceed expectations. Excellent, efficient, responsive, personalized customer service can be a significant competitive advantage.

So let’s start with what customers don’t like about the service they are getting. According to recent research from Forrester Research, Inc., here are the top four causes of customer dissatisfaction:

  1. Inconsistent experiences across channels. Customers expect the same efficiency, policies, and procedures across all of your channels. It doesn’t matter if they complain on your Facebook page, call your 800-number, or send you an email. Their expectations are the same, and they expect you to respond with similar speed and efficiency.
  2. Reactive service. Customers want the information they need proactively – they dislike being told about problems – or promotions – after the fact. Communicating proactively makes customers feel you have their best interests in mind when you are planning and running your business operations.
  3. One-size-fits-all engagement. Customers expect personalization. If they have taken the time to engage with you, sharing their personal information, time and money, they expect you to accommodate them by serving them as they want to be served. Not having the technological flexibility to personalize customer interactions is a significant impediment to creating customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  4. Inefficient interactions. While customers want personalized service, that doesn’t mean that they will be patient with inefficient delivery. Technology has taught us to expect efficient resolution of our problems, and not delivering that will disappoint your customers.

In addition to understanding the causes of dissatisfaction for your customers, your customer satisfaction measurement program can serve as an “early warning system” to help you identify problems before they cause major dissatisfaction. Over our years of helping clients with their customer satisfaction measurement programs, Infosurv Research has identified four key tips that can help you uncover emerging issues:

  1. Don’t Rely Exclusively on the “Top Two Box” Scores. Top Two Box Scores refer to the sum of the percentage of people who are Extremely Satisfied and Somewhat Satisfied, and is a standard measure of overall satisfaction. However, especially over time, you also need to examine the other points on the scale. For example, if the Top Two Box Score remained stable at 79% from one period to another, it may not indicated true stability. If in the previous period the score was made up of 48% Extremely + 31% Somewhat and the current period is 31% Extremely and 48% Somewhat, then you have an indication of a declining level of satisfaction. Also, what if your Top Two Box score is 68% but your Bottom Two Box score is 28%? This would indicate a polarized customer base where a relatively high percentage of your customers are highly dissatisfied. Either of those situations should put you on notice to analyze further for root causes.
  2. Align Pricing to Increase Satisfaction. Figure out who is buying your products or services and their level of satisfaction. Especially for consumer products and services, small changes in pricing can lead to big changes in satisfaction, depending on your target audience demographics. (This is also true in business-to-business, but of course, is more dependent on buying cycle timing.)
  3. Increase Familiarity with Products/Services. If customers don’t know your product or service delivers a certain benefit, they aren’t using it, and they aren’t getting any value from it. And that benefit and increased value could Increase their satisfaction. So make sure that customers understand and use your products and services to the fullest – after all, they paid for it!
  4. Focus on the beginning of your relationship with the customer. The most important point in the relationship you have with your customer is at the beginning. The first purchase of a product or the activation of a new service is the time where initial expectations are set. It will be difficult to overcome negative perceptions if a customer starts out dissatisfied by the way that they are treated or serviced at the start of the relationship.

Creating satisfied customers is a moving target. As soon as you solve a challenge, another one will pop up, either because you have raised customer expectations, or because your competitors and technology have created new capabilities. So don’t become complacent because your Top Two Box Satisfaction Scores are high – you have to continually challenge yourself, your products, and your entire operation to make delivering Customer Satisfaction an on-going priority.

Want more information? Download our infographic: Increasing Customer Satisfaction in a Digital World 

customer satisfaction ebookWant MORE information? Download our eBook:  Increasing Business Success by Building Customer Satisfaction








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Lenni Moore

Lenni Moore is the Director of Operations at Infosurv. She’s always been passionate about fostering strong professional relationships. It’s precisely these relationships that allow her to exceed her clients’ expectations because she knows exactly what they want and then leverages her experience to get it for them.