Customer Satisfaction Drives Profit

As the central goal of each company’s business is to be profitable, one of our principal projects was to determine and measure to what extent the customer satisfaction impacts on the company’s growth. To this end Pierre Castera’s team at first developed a series of tools to evaluate the link between customer satisfaction and characteristic features of the supplied products and services. Together with the subsidiaries he put in place a customer satisfaction survey named Echoes which was custom-tailored to the specificities of the ophthalmic lens market. During the first year we tested it in 12 European countries. A general remarkable result of this survey was, that the service excellence had the same impact on customer satisfaction as the actual product quality. In order to systematically improve the service quality we established so called Quality Referentials. In these referentials the different contact situations in the relation sequence customer/ Essilor were listed and prioritized regarding their importance for customer satisfaction. Finally for each service item we defined a targeted level of excellence. Comparing the Echoes results with these target values the subsidiaries  worked out  an action plan which became the basis for training courses for their working staff.

In principle this process was simple and its various steps logical and clear, its implementation however very time- and resource-consuming. So a survey, its evaluation and the implementation of the corrective actions was an important cost item in the budget of the zones and their subs. A quantitative survey covering more than 1500 customers of the most important European subsidiaries cost between 300 and 400 k€. Nevertheless in this introduction phase of the service improvement process we conducted one survey per subsidiary every year.

 This included another type of survey named GPS which measured customer satisfaction with Essilor as well as with its competitors. One paramount element of a company’s intelligence is information about the strengths and the weaknesses of its competitors. This does not only concern the product and service offer, but also market share, organization structures and strategies . For me detailed knowledge of our competitors was crucial in all each different stage of my professional career. To know exactly the evolution of Sola’s market share was  key in developing our Marketing strategy when we fought back  Sola’s attack against our leadership on the progressive lens market. In the same sense the GPS informations were an indispensable element to define and optimize  our quality policy.  

One major discovery was that generally the European customer was distinctly less satisfied with the service quality than with the one of the product. With our project to improve particularly the service we were on the right track. In 2008, two years after the first Echoes survey and the consecutive launch of the improvement actions we had the first success messages. In this new survey a clear majority of our clients stated that during the last 12 months they had experienced an improvement in Essilor’s service excellence. Our plans and laborious training sessions were bearing fruit. Another essential outcome of our quantitative evaluation was a graph showing that the more the customer is satisfied with Essilor the more he is ready to increase his turnover with Essilor. Customer satisfaction drives profit. A wonderful confirmation of our new mission to develop customer loyalty.

The success in Europe created interest in the other zones particularly Asia and North America to test the Echoes/GPS process tool. As the Asian subsidiaries were particularly creative and reactive, we tested also other complementary survey types with them as the post-launch survey which allowed us to evaluate and test a launch scenario on a first market and adapt it before rolling it out on a large scale. So in the short time span of about 2 years the new Quality organization had succeeded to sensitize the company to work systematically on the improvement of its service and it had provided the necessary tools to succeed.