#89 – Employee and customer sat, Consumer subscription service feedback


Welcome to the 89th edition of my customer strategy newsletter. The five topics this week are:

  1. Relationship between employee and customer satisfaction
  2. The right time to ask for feedback on a consumer subscription service
  3. Latest blog posts
  4. Notable items from other sites – Willie Pietersen, Eric Smuda ex-Compaq, HP, Avis, Hertz
  5. Looking forward

Relationship between employee and customer satisfaction

The American Customer Satisfaction Index people released the final part of their 2018 customer satisfaction data earlier this week. I have been able to match the scores against Glassdoor employee satisfaction data for 398 large businesses that sell to US consumers. This is up from 345 last year and hopefully makes the data more reliable.

There are a few surprises, though the overall message has not changed: there is not much of a relationship between employee and customer satisfaction. Variations in employee satisfaction across the 398 businesses explain just 6.2% of the variations in customer satisfaction. This is up from last year’s number of 4.4%. There are industries and indeed a whole sector where there seems to be no relationship at all between the two. The big surprise is that the relationship for the retail trade has dropped significantly. This turns out to be an artefact of the ACSI including eCommerce sites in retail this year while they were separate last year.

At the moment I am doing extensive data validation. This is the third time I have carried out the study. I made minor mistakes each of the first two times and am in the process of ensuring I have at least not made the same mistakes again. I will then write a series of blog posts. The ones you should expect are:

  • Overall results, including an analysis of ‘high-touch’ and ‘low-touch’ businesses.
  • Lists of companies that employees hate but customers love, and vice-versa.
  • Lists of companies that both the employees and customers love, and of course the opposite view.

Based on the feedback I receive each year I suspect most of you believe my study is wrong. Indeed, I submitted it to one academic publication and one business publication the first year and it was rejected by both as not being credible. Nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, has been able to present a scientific analysis that proves anything different. I look forward to the feedback this year.

The right time to ask for feedback on a consumer subscription service

I just answered a question about when you should ask customers for feedback about a ‘box subscription’ service. This is the type of service where you receive something different every month. Kiwico is an example, with their scientific toy kit subscription service, and I have seen subscriptions that give you a new book every month. Here is how I answered the question:

  1. If you have no people or budget to work on improvements that customers may suggest… well… you are better off not asking them for feedback at all. So, if you have no resources, the right time is never.
  2. You want to be able to work on improvements and tell the customers about them before their subscription deadline comes up. If all customers do not have the same renewal date, this really means working on a single improvement every quarter, then telling the customers when you have completed it. Once again, if you don’t have the resources needed, then please don’t ask for feedback.

Your input welcome.


Our latest blog posts

Nothing new this week as I have had my head down working on the employee-customer satisfaction research. Older posts are still available on the blog page.

image Valentine’s Day classic blog – How to stay married – to your customers of course!

It was Valentine’s Day a few years ago, and I was puzzled by the results of some HP customer experience research. The data source and volume were impeccable. However, the results were surprising. Then I remembered what day it was, and everything became clear…

What skills do you and your customer experience team need to be successful? (5-minute read)

While pure luck was a major factor, my use of Microsoft Project version 1.0 on my personal Mac certainly had a major positive influence on my promotion to the European HQ of Digital Equipment Corporation…

image The nature of customer-centric strategy and why your team needs one (Intense 3-minute read)

I have been broadening my writing horizons somewhat over the last few weeks. Among others, I have contributed thoughts on customer strategy to discussion on LinkedIn, Quora and the members-only Customer Experience Professionals Association forum. Some clarity seems to be needed…

Notable customer experience items from other sites

Willie Pietersen – Five time-tested ideas for success

Many of you know that I consider Willie Pietersen to be the greatest strategy teacher on the planet. As a former CEO of some major companies, his advice is intensely practical. His latest blog post is no exception. The five concepts covered are easy to understand. They are:

  1. Our only sustainable competitive advantage is our ability to learn faster than our competitors
  2. Success means putting the customer at the center of business decisions
  3. Strategy is about achieving differentiation by making choices
  4. Leaders must be able to simplify a complex world
  5. To move people at the deepest level, you need compelling stories

Willie’s first strategy book is the only book I have ever read a second time immediately after finishing my first read. I did the same with this blog post. Read it here.

Bain NPS podcast – Interview with Eric Smuda, former CX leader at Compaq, HP, Avis, Hertz

A fascinating and insightful interview with Eric Smuda. My time in CX at HP started after Eric left and I never heard of him at Compaq. I wish I had. He is clear and insightful about what it takes to develop and implement a customer experience strategy. I learned a lot about the car rental business and found some of the stories fascinating. Like the one about the need to reposition cars around New York. Hertz uses a single car fleet. The weekday demand is at the airports. The largest single weekend demand is from people who live in Manhattan and want to get away for the weekend, starting on Friday evening. So Hertz drives huge numbers of cars from the airports into town. It is a constant stream as there is not much space for them in Manhattan. That’s just one story and there are many others. Listen to them here.


Looking forward

I will be speaking at the CustomerGauge Monetize! event in Amsterdam on March 13th and will stay over to enjoy the other speakers on the 14th. I look forward to meeting any readers who will be there. And of course I want to complete my blog posts on the relationship between customer and employee experience. I am sure you will find them interesting.

Here are links to all of our books on Amazon.com. Kindle versions are available in all stores. Print versions are available from the major stores only. If you have already read any of our books, please write reviews on Amazon.

Customer Experience Strategy – Design & Implementation

Net Promoter – Implement the System

Customer-centric Cost Reduction

“So Happy Here”: The Absurdist but Essential Guide to Better Business (Color edition)

“So Happy Here”: The Absurdist but Essential Guide to Better Business (Black & White edition)

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