Editor's note: Doug Berdie is president of Consumer Review Systems.

In the past year, I’ve reviewed accumulated knowledge obtained over 45+ years as a customer satisfaction researcher/consultant. This review covered reams of data collected from small to Fortune 50 companies across dozens of industries, from business customers as well as customers of government and non-profit services, from customers in the supply chain as well as end-use consumers. Fads related to customer satisfaction have come and gone during that time and even some of those that have been discredited due to solid research analysis persist. The key insights I’ve obtained are summarized below.

Proven techniques exist for assessing how well your customer satisfaction measurement system serves your organization. A good starting place is to ask the following questions – each of which points to uses of time that could be better devoted to actually improving customer service and satisfaction:

The single most important reason an organization should collect customer feedback is to stimulate the company to improve its products/services so they best meet the needs of its customers. Doing so will lead to increased satisfaction and enduring loyalty from customers. I highlighted in a 2016 Quirk’s article (“A better use of your time”) how Brock White construction supply company did this successfully for over 20 years. Merely tracking numbers (such as the once-touted Net Promoter Score) to report on monthly/quarterly/yearly scorecards does not provide effective insights on the needed details of organizational performance. Further, doing so can deflect attention from more meaningful activities. 

Many things affect whether a customer is loyal over time and whether they pick an organization for specific purchases. Past performance of the organization is one of the reasons (and not necessarily the most important). Stocking the exact product/se...