Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Specializing in Employee Opinion and Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Improving the Workplace

By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.

2 out of 5 employees say it's difficult for customers to do business with their organization.


In today's challenging economy, retaining existing customers is critically important. Nevertheless many organizations make it very difficult for their customers to do business with them. How many of you have had experiences such as these?

  • Last November I hired a local exterminating company to investigate for termites in our home. They put down special traps that they said they would check monthly. Beginning in February, I called them each month to see what they were finding. They never returned any of my telephone calls. Only when I lost my temper on their answering machine did I receive a return call.

  • We currently receive five separate bills from our local telephone company. We have repeatedly asked them to consolidate the bills. We then received a special mailing that they sent to all customers saying that they wanted to consolidate bills. We promptly followed their directions for doing so. The next month we received three bills rather than one, and two of them have our names misspelled. Straightening this out will probably take months of time and aggravation.


  1. Lack of Customer Focus

    Organizations simply lose sight of the fact that satisfied customers are the key to their survival. They take customers for granted. In some organizations, they even fail to show respect for their customers.

  2. Red Tape

    Organizations grow so large that they become encumbered with bureaucratic procedures that get in the way of providing good service. For example, many don't even have an up-to-date list of their customers.

  3. Inadequate Procedures

    Even small companies can be totally insensitive to their customers. Lost within the day-to-day work, they fail to step back and critically examine the systems they should be using to better serve their customers.

  4. Outdated Procedures

    Many mature companies fail to realize that the needs of their customers have changed over the years. For example, companies that don't have voice mail, can't take orders over the web, or can't respond to customer phone calls during the weekends are using outdated operating methods.

  5. Faulty Business Models

    Many web-based businesses have been developed by computer geeks with little consideration given to the preferences or needs of customers. For example, many such businesses make it virtually impossible for their customers to reach a live person on the telephone or via email.


  1. Commit to Customerizing Your Business

    It's not enough for the words "customer focus" to appear on a mission statement. Senior management must make customer focus a major priority. This will require time, money, and attention.

  2. Diagnose the Quality of the Customer Experience

    There are two basic methods for assessing the quality of customer interactions with an organization: "shopper studies" and customer satisfaction surveys.

    Shopper studies involve hiring people to pose as customers. They then prepare a detailed report about their experiences.

    Customer satisfaction surveys capture the perceptions of your current customers. Such surveys can help identify:

    • What customers like and don't like about your products and services;

    • What is most important to them; and

    • What additional products or services they might purchase from you.

  3. Involve Employees in Customerizing Your Business

    The most important way to customerize your business is to implement actions based upon the results from the shopper and customer satisfaction studies. Involving employees in developing and implementing the plans is crucial.

So, before you start losing customers, commit to taking a hard look at what can be done to customerize your organization.

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