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[Sponsored Report] Innovators satisfy their clients

Most sectors saw customer satisfaction fall in 2009, but moving with trends helped others improve.

Jan 12,2010
Students at Yeungjin College show off their academic-industrial collaboration project, employees from the InterContinental Hotel participate in a volunteer program, and Chungcheong University students hand out flower baskets on Parents’ Day.
The national customer satisfaction index, reported by the Korea Productivity Center, the Chosun Ilbo and Michigan University and supported by the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy, for 56 industries and 245 companies and public organizations stood at 70.9 points in 2009, down 0.6 point from the previous year.

The world economic crisis and the new influenza virus had direct and indirect negative effects on the NCSI. The struggling economy led to cutbacks in investment by companies on the domestic market, and the new flu restrained locals from spending on certain industries such as transportation and distribution, which caused those markets to shrink.

The prices of goods and services remained at the same levels as before, but dropping household income in tandem with the economic downturn eventually led to a decrease in customer satisfaction.

In the report, 39 of the 56 industries surveyed saw their customers’ level of expectation rise, while only 17 industries posted growth in recognized quality, which means a lot of industries failed to meet their customers’ needs. Failing to meet customer’s various needs was the major reason for the drop in the NCSI.

The customer satisfaction rate declined in construction (3.4 percent), electricity, gas and water (2.9 percent) and transportation (2.0 percent) because of price pressure for these public goods amid the economic downturn. Meanwhile, telecommunication (3.8 percent) and durable goods manufacturing (0.3 percent) showed an improvement in scores. Telecommunications companies introduced new products and offered discounts to positive effect. The durable goods manufacturing industry was able to introduce new products that fulfilled customers’ needs with new and improved functions and sophisticated designs.

In the report, 19 industries showed improvement in their scores, while 15 industries held steady and 22 fell from 2008. Securities services, mobile phones and high-speed Internet were among industries that showed improvement. Stable stock prices, exchange rates and other financial market indexes supported these industries, as did discount marketing and new products. The industries that showed drops in the scores were those most affected by quality of life issues and the economic downturn. Water and electricity utilities, which are sensitive to price hikes, were among these.

The winning companies of 2009 worked hard to analyze changing customer trends and reflect them in their services and products. Despite the bad economic situation, these companies implemented differentiated customer satisfaction strategies and reflected customer reactions to change and improve their products until the last person was satisfied. The companies worked hard to create this kind of company culture.

Yeungjin College made it to the top of the 2009 NCSI results, scoring 84 points. The college excelled in supporting students with various customized educational programs. Its scholarship system, the Nuri Scholarship program, which involves one in every four students, was also praised.

Its convenient and excellent service put the InterContinental Hotel high on the list. The Seoul Plaza Hotel and the Lotte Hotel, famous as areas for shopping and rest near the city center, were also in the top 10. The KPC also recognized construction firm Samsung C&T Corporation and Daelim for excellence in their endeavors to communicate with customers, placing them in fourth and fifth place. Thanks to a Ministry of Education, Science and Technology project to enhance the educational competence of schools, Chungcheong University and Taekyeung College received favorable evaluations for their policies, including expanded scholarships and amenities.

Daegu Metropolitan Transit Corp. also made it to the top 10, raising customer satisfaction last year by implementing field education efforts led by professional instructors and mitigating the inconvenience experienced by residents near its stations by developing noise reduction devices.

High customer satisfaction and customer retention rates mean customers in the specified industry are happier overall compared to other industries. This can have a very positive effect on growth potential in the long run for the industry, since the number of loyal customers will increase.

For universities and colleges, customer satisfaction and customer retention scores are poor. Unlike other industries customers do not use school services continuously, but since the customer satisfaction rate is low, there is room for improvement.

Subways showed rather high customer retention compared to low customer satisfaction because, since there is no alternative to taking the train, customers have no choice but to use the service.

Securities brokers showed low customer retention and low customer satisfaction. This is because, with the continuing economic depression, there is uncertainty in the investment world, lowering confidence in the sector overall.

However, looking into customer satisfaction and customer retention by industry, the expectation of an economy recovery was reflected at securities brokerages, lending a positive effect. The long distance phone industry bolstered its numbers with the introduction of packaged services, while mobile phone providers provoked the same effect with discounts and beer makers with new products.

However, due to the economic downturn, the apartment industry suffered due to falling apartment prices and lower retention, and beverage makers were hurt by the reputation that they do no care adequately for their customers’ health.


By Lee Ji-hyun [concordia@joongang.co.kr]


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