Optimize for Customer Satisfaction

Peter Drucker says “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” That’s The Big Picture. You’re not just out there to scare up a sale, or even more sales. You’re out there to build business relationships that increase the lifetime value of your customers. Your value to them; their value to you.

Around here we think a lot about metrics and their value in helping you make adjustments that optimize your Web site. But beyond operational efficiency, there’s another perspective on optimization that I want you to think about: the need to optimize for customer satisfaction.

Several articles have crossed my desk recently that present examples of seeing or not seeing The Big Picture.

Myopic

A well-branded manufacturer of computers has a policy of maintaining a very low inventory, which has certain cost benefits to the company. Except, every time there’s a problem with suppliers, folks who have ordered a computer have to wait. Sometimes they have to wait a long time. The no-leeway inventory model may help the company keep costs down, but it has the unfortunate tendency to create some pretty angry customers.

Far-sighted

Around the time of 9/11, lots of folks decided they’d give airplanes a miss and turn to alternative forms of transportation. Enterprise Rent-a-Car didn’t have a logistics system either to offer or to track one-way rentals. But they did have a customer-centric corporate culture. So the local managers took matters into their own hands and made one-way rentals available. One regional manager explained, “We knew we had to do the right thing and worry about the rest later.”

The cost to Enterprise was the displacement of thousands of its cars - operational chaos. The benefit? In a struggling economy, Enterprise now leads its category and is stronger this year than it was last year.

No matter how you think your business model should operate or what you think your Web site should accomplish, the needs and satisfaction of your customers should never take a back seat to internal imperatives.

How well are you doing? Would you say you are delighting your customers? Can you tell me the percentage of your customers who are repeat buyers? Can you tell me how often these repeat buyers actually buy from you? Have you considered optimizing your Web site and your business model to build customer relationships and increase lifetime value?

Drop me a line and tell me your strategies for testing, measuring and optimizing for customer satisfaction.

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