8 reasons why increasing customer satisfaction doesn’t work

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Satisfied customers are indispensable for the success of a company – everyone agrees on that.

However, if you want to increase customer satisfaction and take the first steps to improve the customer experience, the hoped-for success often fails to materialize. In a customer survey, we found out where CX managers from various companies see the greatest challenges and implementation barriers when it comes to increasing customer satisfaction.

In this article, we’ll look at the most common reasons why successful customer experience improvement often fails to materialize and give you tips on what you can do to take your CX management to the next level.
This awaits you – table of contents:

Reason 1: Lack of measurability of customer satisfaction.

The biggest challenge facing the companies we surveyed is correctly measuring the level of customer satisfaction.

In many cases, an extensive survey of all data takes place, but it is only decided afterwards which key figures should really be considered.

This has the decisive disadvantage that individual data is missing for evaluation and parts of a survey thus become largely unusable. Let’s assume you want to gain insights for specific phases and touchpoints of the customer journey, then you need the reference to this already in the survey.

You therefore need a precise measurement of the actual situation at the beginning, which you can achieve with key figures such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS), the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) or the Customer Effort Score (CES). Before collecting data, decide what goal you are pursuing and use this to infer the data to be collected, not the other way around.

Without a measurable and comparable data basis through established KPIs and appropriate metrics, your results simply have no added value. For some metrics, such as bounce rates and click numbers, a simple data extraction is sufficient, but for the collection of NPS, CSAT or CES, you need a data collection, such as in the context of a survey.

Reason 2: The challenge of formulating good questions

Once you’ve decided to conduct a customer survey, you’re bound to run into the next challenge pretty quickly, asking yourself how to formulate good questions to identify needs and weaknesses in the customer experience.

It happens quite quickly to formulate questions that already influence the survey participant while reading the question, overwhelm him or even annoy him. If you use the same question type three times in a row, it may be easier for the respondent to lose motivation to answer.

Formulate your questions well and pay attention to dramaturgy in the structure of your survey in order not to bore the participants.

If, on the other hand, you overburden your respondent with questions that he is not yet able to answer in his phase of the customer life cycle, he will answer your questions in most cases, but the quality and thus the usability of his answers will dwindle along with his motivation.

Let’s take an example:

  • How satisfied are you with customer service?
  • How satisfied are you with the delivery service?
  • How satisfied are you with the fitters and their punctuality?
  • How satisfied are you with the booking process?

The question is repeated. Likewise, the third question is a double question. By asking inappropriately worded and overly similar questions, you inevitably reduce the usefulness of your survey results and also make it difficult to measure the information you gain. It also reduces the likelihood that respondents will want to participate again in a future survey.

Before actually conducting your survey, it is recommended that you test the survey with test participants and check the quality of your test survey results. This way you can improve one or two phrases before the actual survey.

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Reason 3: Insufficiently suitable survey participants

Who hasn’t experienced this: after many hours of careful preparation and implementation of a customer survey, you realize that the participation rate is too low to obtain statistically valid data. This is, of course, very annoying.

It’s not uncommon for survey response rates to be below 10%, especially if the survey is targeted at a specific audience segment that needs a little more incentive to take the time to provide feedback. Two tips to prevent this:

  • Consider the phase in the customer life cycle
    A potential customer who is still in the initiation phase is sometimes more difficult to motivate to participate in a survey than an existing customer who already has experience using your products and services.
  • Create motivation
    If you don’t offer your target group any incentive to take a few minutes to complete your survey, the result will usually be a low participation rate. In such cases, time-consuming follow-up campaigns are necessary, which consume a lot of time as well as additional capacity.

To motivate the target group to participate in your survey, you could offer an incentive in the form of discounts and voucher codes. When thinking about an attractive incentive, always ask yourself what the participants will gain from it and give them a good reason to take part. You should then communicate the incentive in the invitation to the survey.

Reason 4: Incorrect evaluation of survey data

Once you have the survey results in front of you, it’s on to probably the most exciting part of a customer survey – the evaluation. In many cases, this looks like this:

  • The manager opens the survey tool and looks at the easily visible dashboard that his survey tool has automatically created for him.
  • He sees a relatively respectable NPS of 60, but the CES scores less well, with an average score of 3.9.
  • A meeting is called to review the survey results with the marketing and service departments and speculate on the right way to improve.

What seems plausible at first glance, however, is anything but the optimum case. If you assume that your company’s NPS is really good with a score of 60, but companies in your industry have an average of 70, this can lead to an incorrect evaluation.

In order to measure and evaluate customer satisfaction correctly, it is important to define comparative values right from the start.

For the correct evaluation, you need a previously defined basis of comparison with which you compare your results in order to ensure the correctness of your analyses in a holistic view of your market. Without a basis for comparison, the probability is extremely high that you will draw conclusions based on incorrect assumptions and correlations.

If, for example, you can measure that customers who have been customers for less than a year have a higher NPS on average, you can draw conclusions that your regular customer management needs to be improved and that the focus on acquiring new customers has been greater up to now.

Reason 5: Identify key influencing factors for satisfied customers.

What actually makes customers happy? If we could easily answer this question, we would probably be the first. With the help of energetic consultants and on the basis of the last customer satisfaction survey, solutions are often diligently defined for the identified problem areas. In the process, it is often neglected to measure and incorporate other relevant influencing factors.

Let’s assume that marketing has found out through a survey that your customers have difficulties with the usability of your software. Do you now know to what extent this influences customer satisfaction in general with your company?

Various influencing factors can affect your customer satisfaction as a whole, which means that conclusions about individual fields can be distorted without closer examination.

In Customer Experience Management, the influencing factors are divided into five different determinants:

  1. Customer-related determinants
    Characteristics of a customer such as age and gender, as well as interpersonal interactions.
  2. Company-related determinants
    Factors that can be influenced by the company itself such as how the customer is treated by customer service.
  3. Performance-related determinants
    The quality of the company’s service or product.
  4. Situational determinants
    Unexpected events due to actions or coincidences.
  5. Environment-related determinants

External conditions such as the parking situation for your customers or the climate in the sales rooms.

If you don’t know the key factors influencing customer satisfaction, you will derive optimization measures on the basis of vague assumptions that may pick up on customer opinions but have little impact on customer satisfaction as a whole.

If your survey has provided you with information about the company’s weak points, it is usually necessary to dig deeper in order to make real improvements.

For example, through qualitative survey methods such as interviews or renewed surveys aimed precisely at this, you can then ask your customers what things exactly you need to improve in order to make their experience as pleasant as possible.

Reason 6: Derive tasks for experience optimization

Once you know the weaknesses your customers see, you move on to the next challenge: deriving optimization tasks. After all, your efforts to improve customer satisfaction will only be useful if you also know what exactly customers want.

If customers are bothered by the quality of service, you need to ask yourself further questions:

  • What experience led the individual customer to this decision?
  • What exactly went wrong during this experience?
  • What would the customer specifically like to see improve the situation?

It is possible that the problem does not lie with the service itself.


A customer is upset that it took days to solve his problem. However, the employee responsible for dealing with his problem at the service center tried energetically to find a solution. Since the problem was an interface issue, the employee had to contact six contacts separately and was only able to provide the customer with a solution after receiving their feedback.

Thus, the solution to the problem changes from an initial service adjustment to a structural change in the organizational chart. In this example, you might have arranged for the service’s call guide to be optimized and for staff to be required to undergo training, which of course requires a budget.

Without the detailed input of your target group, which sees the problem, you cannot derive a task plan that actually guarantees success and thus an increase in customer satisfaction, because you are ignoring important details. In order to get to the core problem, as in this case, it is necessary to drill down to the customer himself. 

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Reason 7: Unfavorable prioritization of measures

Once optimization tasks have been defined, the next challenge lurks here: the unfavorable prioritization of measures. You are of course aware that not all tasks can be implemented at the same time, but this raises the question of where ideally to start in order to make a difference?

In many cases, this is done using estimates:

  • What seems most urgent?
  • What has been mentioned most frequently by customers?
  • What has actually been on the to-do list for the longest time?

Admittedly: if a measure has been on the implementation plan for two years, it should of course not be disregarded.

However, this does not mean that this implementation step has the greatest influence on the satisfaction of your customers. Likewise, there are activities that would improve customer satisfaction by a lot, but they simply require a lot of budget.

If you prioritize your steps based on assumptions or personal preferences, there is a high probability that they will have little, if any, impact. However, this can be avoided.

Prioritizing actions to improve customer satisfaction by company employees often happens on a gut level.

With the ICE score, you can compare and prioritize CX optimization measures, for example, based on the degree of impact on customer satisfaction, the degree of probability that the impact will occur, and the associated implementation effort.

Thus, the ICE score offers you a good opportunity to prioritize your CX measures in a targeted manner. However, you can also use other prioritization methods such as the Eisenhower matrix, the decision matrix, or dot voting. 

Reason 8: No holistic view of the customer experience

You probably know it yourself: Some customer feedbacks appear more frequently, based on these reviews an improvement of the touchpoints of the customer journey mentioned by the customers is examined and corresponding steps for improvement are initiated.

But in the aftermath, one very decisive factor is not so easy to determine: to what extent was the customer experience as a whole improved as a result?

Therefore, it is essential for your CX success to look at the customer experience holistically and to realize that the CX is ultimately the sum of all experiences in the entire customer lifecycle.

Consequently, it is necessary to have the different phases in the customer lifecycle on the screen and then collect valuable feedback specifically in the respective phases at different touchpoints.

If you don’t take a holistic view of the customer experience, you’re missing out on a lot of information that could provide you with important information on purchasing decisions and company loyalty, and increase customer satisfaction enormously across the board.

Conclusion: Overcome implementation barriers in a targeted manner and demonstrably increase CX

A lack of success in increasing customer satisfaction often leads to the false conclusion that customer experience management is rather unsuitable for one’s own company. However, in most cases, the lack of CX success is due to organizational and technical implementation barriers.

However, you can dramatically increase the success of your CX measures in your company by proceeding systematically and following the proven step-by-step process for increasing customer experience. This will give you a solid foundation for your CX program and, most importantly, the assurance that you are using a methodically highly effective CX process.

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