Study on Customer Satisfaction Measurement: Half of German Companies Still Evaluate Customer Feedback by Hand

by Jun.-Prof. Dr. Erik Maier | December 10, 2020
Which companies measure customer satisfaction and how is the collected information used? Together with zenloop we got to the bottom of this question in a recent joint study.

The majority of companies systematically record customer satisfaction — particularly in the B2C field

A joint study by HHL Jun.-Prof. Dr. Erik Maier and the zenloop experience management platform found that the majority of German companies (75%) systematically collect information on customer satisfaction. However, more than half of them (53%) do not use software for analysis but still evaluate the data by hand.

The survey shows that the vast majority of companies (75%) use some form of customer satisfaction measurement — most commonly the Net Promoter Score (54%), followed by classic market research (34%). Whether or not a company uses customer satisfaction measurement depends on size, age, business model and the industry. A total of 82% of the companies aged 50 and over measure customer satisfaction; among major enterprises with more than 50,000 employees, that share is as high as 96%. The smaller the company, the lower the figure. Looking at business models, it became obvious that it is mainly consumer-based industries such as B2C and B2P that examine customer satisfaction in a systematic way (85% and 82% respectively), while B2B companies tend to neglect the topic with only 65% of them measuring customer satisfaction.

Study Methods Read more

The study is based on an online survey with 325 respondents recruited in July 2020 through a professional social network. Almost 90% of the participating companies are located in Germany, half of them working in B2B and B2C.

One in every four respondents works in a small or medium-sized enterprise with less than 250 employees. Most of the companies have between 250 and 1,000 employees (26%). Only a few young businesses and startups under five years old (9%) participated in the survey. The majority of the participants have been established for a longer period of time, most of them for more than 25 years (54%). The (online) retail sector was strongly represented with 31%. Other industries had over 30 people taking part in the survey; for instance, media and telecommunication with 11%.

One in three participants were members of the corporate executive, particularly the boards; another 45% worked in upper management. Most respondents worked in the areas of marketing (27%) as well as sales and corporate development (27%).

The sample size was similar to that of other corporate surveys conducted by other organizations, (e.g., the German Economic Insititute, Bardt and Grömling (2020) with 400 participants) and includes companies of various sizes, ages and industries. However, the respondents were invited to participate in a survey on customer satisfaction as members of an online professional network (a so-called “convenience sample”) and were not selected at random using specific criteria like in a census, the survey does not claim to be representative. The respondents had the oppourtinity to take part in a raffle to win a book on customer satisfaction as an incentive.

All findings can be requested on 

Between different industries, customer satisfaction measurement varies. Almost all companies working in energy and water supply (100%, n=8), the pharmaceutical industry and health care sector (89%, n=9) use customer satisfaction measurement but it is far less common in (online) retail (62%, n=101) as well as media and telecommunication (56%, n=36).

About zenloop Read more

zenloop is an integrated experience management platform based on the Net Promoter Score®. The SaaS solution automatically collects customer feedback through various channels along the entire customer journey, analyzes & clusters it with the help of artificial intelligence & derives customized & personalized measures to retain satisfied customers & win back dissatisfied customers. The software can be seamlessly integrated into solutions such as Salesforce, Spryker, Emarsys Zendesk, Slack or Shopify or used as an addition to the existing tech stack. The zenloop portfolio includes brands such as Momox, Douglas, Penta, ATU, Mister Spex, Foodspring, Carhartt & Jochen Schweizer.

The company was founded in 2016 by the two former Flaconi makers Björn Kolbmüller & Paul Schwarzenholz as well as Lukasz Lazewski & is based in Berlin with 60 employees. The investors include Nauta Capital & Piton Capital. (company description by zenloop)

Half of the companies still evaluate written customer feedback by hand

To obtain detailed information on the different elements of customer satisfaction or determine its driving forces, many companies follow up on aspects such as response time, friendliness and quality to shed light on more dimensions in addition to quantitative surveys such as the Net Promoter Score. These follow-up questions are used by 66% of the companies involved in this study to measure customer satisfaction and its drivers. 20% choose multiple-choice questions; 46% ask customers to provide feedback using an open text box. Most of the companies (53%) still evaluate the data by hand. That means the individual statements have to be read and categorized by coders, for instance. This manual evaluation is indeed effective and allows for the finest nuances to be captured but it also takes a very long time. Improvement of products and services, as well as customer orientation, are the main goals of customer satisfaction measurement.

When asked how the information obtained through customer satisfaction measurement is used, 64% of the companies surveyed stated that they wanted to improve their products and services. They also mentioned more general goals such as strengthening their customer orientation (54%) and steering their business in a certain direction (43%). Only a small part used customer satisfaction ‌management to identify specific groups who are dissatisfied (34%) or enthusiastic (24%) about the goods or services they bought. 8% of the companies, which means almost 30 out of 325 respondents, do not use the results at all.

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“Companies are very different in how they handle the opportunities that come from measuring customer satisfaction,” says Prof. Dr. Erik Maier, who researches and teaches Retail and Multi-Channel Management at HHL. “The majority of companies do indeed measure customer satisfaction to increase their products and services and strengthen customer orientation. However, only a small part of those actively identify satisfied or dissatisfied customers to address them directly although this would be the area offering the greatest potential.”

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