A common language for assessing customer service in Europe

Date of publication: September 1, 1990


This paper is based on a case history of a customer service survey conducted for 3M Europe. 3M needed information to develop customer service strategies and tactics that could be applied right across Europe and across all markets. The survey was undoubtedly one of the largest and most complex research projects ever commissioned by a private company. It covered 16 countries in Western, Central and Southern Europe, and 50 product groups. Based on 18 interviews with customers, the survey assessed customer expectations, as well as 3M and competitor performance. The survey has now been completed, the data has been presented in verbal and written form to each of the local subsidiary companies involved, and a programme of action is being implemented. The overall objectives of the project were to form market orientated strategies for 3M, the recognition of the need for European strategies but local response, and the establishment of a common understanding of customer service for management in all countries and product groups within each of the companies. In early 1988 3M Europe was reviewing its logistics and customer service strategies, and established the "vision" for the 1990's to "offer the best customer service in Europe" and to "be seen as the most customer orientated and dynamic service organisation". In order to provide actionable data a European survey was required to measure customer satisfaction and expectations. The survey was to provide information to help 3M improve the market approach and to raise the levels of satisfaction of customers in all countries and product areas. Whilst touching on the complexity, magnitude and logistics of the survey, the paper sets out to demonstrate more particularly the common elements and the essentially "simple" formula which was created. This formula has proved to be meaningful at all levels of management, to all markets and all countries. It has served to create within 3M Europe a "common language" on customer service on which the company can base the action for the 1990's

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