My family loves to watch movies on our DVR together. Of all the reasons to watch movies this way, the pause button is our favorite. Someone needs to get a drink. Someone needs to answer their phone. Just pause the movie and no one misses the action. One or two interruptions are fine, but after that, the pause button starts to get annoying. At a certain point, we want to get back to the movie. Who killed the butler in the study with the candlestick? I want to know!

Our interactions with our customers and co-workers are a lot like this. Often times, when people need our help, they have to stop doing what they are doing and wait for an answer, a process or a decision from us. They need our expertise and knowledge to do their job, to deliver their own value. Waiting to get that knowledge and expertise is like putting the pause button on their work. That knowledge or expertise might be an answer to a technical question, the right procedure for applying for medical leave or feedback on an authorization for funding.

So what’s customer satisfaction, then?

If each interaction is a pause button in the value that our customers or co-workers create, satisfaction relates to the number and the duration of these pauses. Big call centers know this intuitively and track the length of calls and the amount of time on hold (a second pause level button that definitely impacts customer satisfaction). Unfortunately, pushing only on these measures often leads agents to take shortcuts – providing customers what they think customers want, not what they really need and, consequently, creating more pauses in their customer’s work rather than fewer.

Using this analogy, customer satisfaction is a measure of how we help our customers un-pause their work – speed and accuracy are critical (as is friendliness).

Customer satisfaction also gets tricky. It’s only something that we can know after the interaction. But, if customer satisfaction is a by-product of helping customers and co-workers un-pause their work sooner and less frequently, we can start to see where knowledge-sharing practices might have an impact.

How knowledge sharing affects satisfaction

Look at your own pause buttons

Knowledge-sharing practices start affecting customer satisfaction when we start addressing our own pause buttons. One of the key benefits of sharing our knowledge is that everyone has access to the knowledge of the whole team. We all put our knowledge in a shared location, so we can all access it quickly. Because it’s all in one place, we don’t have to spend as much time and effort finding what our customers need. We can get to that knowledge quickly, making the connection between customer and knowledge.

Knowledge-sharing practices thus affect customer satisfaction by reducing the time it takes to connect our customer and coworkers to the knowledge of the entire team. It’s also about shortening our own pause buttons, because they directly impact the duration of our customers’ pauses.

Look at the shape of the pause buttons

Knowledge-sharing practices also address the format or shape of the knowledge that we share with others. As we share knowledge, often, we put it into a format that we are familiar with or feel comfortable using. That knowledge isn’t in the format or shape that the customers want or need. That directly affects the time they have to put their own work on pause.

When we understand and anticipate the way that our customers or coworkers will use the knowledge, we should and can provide it that way. That could be the structure of the knowledge we send or even the format. For example, if you are sending a document that needs further customization, sending a PDF is probably not shortening the pause. We can also understand and anticipate the way we need knowledge from our customers to help get them the knowledge they need faster.

How to measure customer satisfaction

Measuring customer satisfaction (or engagement) is an industry on its own. The only thing to add here is that customer satisfaction is only meaningful in your context. Four out of 5 or 90% satisfaction is meaningful as it relates to where you are and where that number is going. Look for the internal trend rather than look at your peers. Keep your eye on the pause button and use knowledge-sharing practices to enhance customer satisfaction.

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