Satisfaction? Responding to Pete…

Thanks Pete – my personal response beloe yours but I’m not saying the final one!

“Is “satisfied”, a satisfactory service, the limit of our ambition? Of course it may be a challenge even to get to that, but it seems to me you would ideally want to get beyond it, to something like excellent or “delighted”.

I have (once!) been asked to rate my satisfaction with a service from 1 (bad) to 10 (good), and then asked “if we didn’t score 10, what would it take to get us there?”. That maybe sends a more positive message than “if you’re just about satisfied, that’s good enough for us”. It might also throw up some new ideas for improvement.”

That’s what I started this blog for! According to some recent marketing literature, its all to personal. Offering people 1 – 10, 1 – 7 or  1 – 5 makes no difference according to the analysis, so which scale? My concept was, and I don’t claim originality, I’m just seeking adoption of it, is to leave it as either satisfied or dissatisfied (this too has papers supporting it) and ask for the reasons behind the choice. Nice and simple. Another academic paper states that offering different people the choice between 1 and 10 for the same service you’ll get different scores, its all very human, so again get the reasoning, if possible.
There’s also another angle in that concentrating on the one’s dissatisfied with a service is better practice than getting satisfied service users up to excellent. I know ideally we’d like all our users to consider us excellent but whilst we have some that aren’t satisfied, lets sort them out – there’s another marketing paper on that, too!

“And about steering the public to cheaper channels – surely you need an element of that? Improvements don’t usually come for free, and budgets are finite, so if you don’t realise some savings, sooner or later you have to settle for something less than excellence.”

Agreed, but there is a temptation to push rather than pull. We’ve all seen what’s been happening to banks and now they’re changing back. Many council services can actually require a mix of channels to be used. First of all a visit, then a few emails or maybe a ‘phone call, then a visit, then an email. The great British public in most cases will use the most convenient once they have confidence in our ability to deliver good services that way, what we need to do is develop their confidence in using those channels. But there will always be some people who can’t or won’t use the Internet or ‘phone and we still need to provide a quality service, probably mediated by humans but facilitated by the Internet to them?

What do YOU think?

When seeing John Seddon last week he mentioned another book of his from 1992 with regards to satisfaction and measures “I want you to cheat”, which I found second-hand on Amazon and am reading that plus my usual diet of journals before “Systems Thinking in the Public Sector”. Its a smaller, lighter read, looking at the private sector.

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One Response to Satisfaction? Responding to Pete…

  1. Pete Thomson says:

    I didn’t mean to suggest that scoring from 1-10 is better than just satisfied/ dissatisfied; rather that it results in asking almost everyone how to make things better, instead of (probably) a minority. Being lazy, I might be tempted to say I was satisfied when that wasn’t altogether true, to avoid having to write an explanation of why, but I probably wouldn’t be willing to go as far as giving the service 10 out of 10.

    You’re right of course about the temptation to push rather than pull. Basically that’s because relying on pull requires an act of faith, believing that investment in a new channel will be repaid in due course. Managers aren’t usually comfortable with that. So maybe you run a pilot to demonstrate take-up and payback, but unless you’re very lucky its timescale isn’t long enough to convert a significant number of customers. And maybe your reaction then is “we didn’t communicate it well enough”; which might be true, but very easily morphs into “we didn’t sell it hard enough” – whether that’s what you tell the management, or what you tell yourself to do different next time.

    I know John Seddon argues that setting targets stops you improving as much as you could, so you should have faith in his approach to deliver dramatic improvements without trying to say how large they’ll be. That doesn’t sit comfortably with a management approach that believes in business plans and demonstrable pay-back either, but at least the pilot project may be able to demonstrate pay-back reasonably quickly.

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