In these days of social media and instant messaging, the importance of customer satisfaction can hardly be overstated. Just one accident is enough for customers to start a national or global boycott. But keep them satisfied and that “thumbs up” is worth its weight in platinum. From a marketing perspective, there is nothing more valuable than a satisfied customer.
We all know that it is easier, cheaper and wiser to keep our customers rather than win new customers and lose them. It is human nature to build relationships: with people, communities, clubs… and brands. If the owners of the brands build those customer-relationships with respect, care and attention, they stand to gain. Against the socio-economic backdrop of Indonesia’s growing consumer economy, these awards aren’t a day too early.
To celebrate Indonesia’s best, Roy Morgan Research held its inaugural Customer Satisfaction Awards night last Thursday at the Financial Hall of Graha CIMB Niaga in downtown Jakarta. A total of 30 awards were given away, over a 3-course dinner. The support for this new award was overwhelming, a sign of the importance given to customer satisfaction by many of Indonesia’s biggest and best companies. Picking up the first award of the night was Emirsyah Satar, the head of Garuda Indonesia who were the clear winner in the “Domestic Airline of the Year” category. They had the unique distinction of picking up the best “International Airline” award last year in Australia as well. He was followed by Zulkifli Zaini, the boss of Bank Mandiri who received the award in a closely contested battle for “Consumer Bank of the Year”, just ahead of BCA. Reconfirming Indonesia’s on-going love affair with the brand, BlackBerry’s Singapore-based director of GRS Customer Relations ran her own poll at the event as she picked up her gong. Executive director, Yutaka Terada representing the indomitable Japanese brand, Yamaha motorcycles, was there to make his acceptance speech as well. I was pleased to see my old friend Agung Adiprasetyo at the gathering, supporting the Gramedia team that won “Bookstore of the Year”. The list is too long to cover in detail but there were two unforgettable clean sweeps. The first was by Unilever of the Personal Care and Beverage categories, with a total of five awards for “Most Preferred Brands”. The awards were received by young brand managers, cheered on by divisional directors Debby Sadrach and Ainul Yaqin. The other big winner of the night was RCTI, sweeping the “TV Programs Really Love to Watch” category. They grabbed four of the five TV awards for quality of viewer-engagement, not quantity of viewer-eyeballs. It was gratifying to see the divisional heads pick up the awards, led by managing director Kanti Mirdiati Imansyah. Not to be outdone, Leak Kustiyah, director of Jawa Pos gleefully posed for the cameras with their “Newspaper of the Year” certificate.
In the selection process, there is no “mystery shopper”, no “expert panel”. There are only real-life customers who use the products and services, form relationships and score the brands with their responses to our questions. There are no fees, there are no judges. The process is incorruptible, the awards cannot be bought. In the truest sense, these awards come from the people of Indonesia. They are the jury. To gather their verdict, they were interviewed by the country’s one and only syndicated survey that is neutral, national, reliable and on-going. More than 26,000 respondents are randomly selected, more than 52,000 interviews are conducted each year. The data is compiled, analyzed and projected to cover 87 percent of Indonesia’s population 14 years of age and over. The updated databases are made available to subscribers of Roy Morgan Single Source, every 90 days.
Following up on the growing popularity of our customer satisfaction measurement in Australia and New Zealand, we increased the range of service industries covered in Indonesia, from six in 2011 to 21 in 2012. At the end of the year, we realised that some service categories, like insurance or international airlines for example, were still too small to read reliably. To qualify for these awards, we need to see at least 100 randomly selected respondents in the annual database for a “niche” product — like a bookstore chain or a coffee shop chain — and at least 200 respondents for a “mass” product like mobile phones or motorcycles. We use a 5-point scale, from “very satisfied” to “very dissatisfied”, to measure satisfaction for all products and services that require some “service”. For Fast Moving Consumer Goods and Media, the methodologies used are more appropriate to those categories.
By any standards, the inaugural event was a success. The response from the gathering was reassuring, so we are committed to making this an annual event for the benefit of industry at large. But I would be hiding the truth if I did not mention the absentees. I am not going to misuse this column to embarrass them by name, no purpose would be served. I will say that it is obvious that customer satisfaction, its value and purpose, are low on the list of priorities for some leading brands in the country. If you jump to the conclusion that the n-shows were all local companies who don’t really care what their customers think, you would be wrong. Some of those missing that night were some of the biggest global brands. A few didn’t even have the courtesy to reply to emails or return calls. I can only assume that they choose to embrace their global research partners, exclusively, regardless of whether they are the biggest or the best in this marketplace. I wish them luck and hope to see them next year. It should come as no surprise to anyone that very many of our clients were winners and finalists. They know what they’re doing. And we know we’re helping them to see the way forward.
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org