Six essential strategies to increase customer satisfaction
Silence is one thing, satisfaction is another, as every customer experience manager knows or will soon learn. As one oft-cited statistic in marketing circles makes clear, 91-percent of dissatisfied customers will never breathe a word of their discontent (to the company, that is). They will simply move their business elsewhere – and take their grievance public in all of their social circles and social media haunts.
That fact alone should convince any business of the need to increase customer satisfaction, if it wants to prosper in the intensely competitive 21st century global marketplace. It’s the best way by far to increase revenue, improve customer retention, turn consumers into advocates (not enemies), and raise Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
It’s by no means a walk in the park. But today’s CX managers and marketers actually can increase customer satisfaction, if they employ the right tools to gain the necessary insights to create the practices that keep the focus on customer service at all times.
How to achieve customer satisfaction in the unforgiving digital world
This part is no mystery: to improve customer satisfaction, a business needs to improve customer service. More than price, more even than the quality of the product itself, it is excellence in customer service that differentiates one business from the next and builds loyalty.
• Give customers reasons to stay, not reasons to leave
Most of all, customers want to know that when they contact a company, by way of any channel they choose, they will be met with efficient and accurate service. Monitoring crucial factors such as the time it takes for them to get a response or to get their issue resolved, and improving on any weaknesses identified, is one of the surest ways to avoid subjecting customers to the lengthy delays that derail planned purchases and alienate people.
• Set clear expectations, and exceed them
Nothing is more frustrating for a consumer than wandering around in a digital world unsure of what to expect from a business, or when. Let customers know up front what your standards and practices are. How long will they wait for a response or a callback? Will that response truly be on target and accurate? Removing the customers’ uncertainty about such common issues in customer service lets them know that a company is committed to their success and satisfaction, especially when the business builds in enough leeway that it can routinely exceed expectations.
• Tie KPIs directly to customer expectations
When a lack of customer satisfaction is the main reason for a loss of customers, it only makes sense to build key metrics and analytics around every step of the customer journey, and to align them with the expectations you have set. By measuring the factors that matter most to customers, businesses have the ability to glean actionable insights that can inform employee training and assessment, smooth out the kinks in systems, and guide long-range planning, at the same time the KPIs foster shared goals and objectives among staff.
• Increase customer satisfaction by monitoring CSAT scores--and acting on them
Most businesses today, and certainly those in the digital sphere, make an effort to collect Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT). Too few of them, however, undertake the rigorous analysis that provide important clues about how to increase customer satisfaction. While CSAT scores typically offer only an incomplete and necessarily subjective glimpse at the overall customer experience, they can be an early indicator of trends and a warning signal when corrective measures are needed, either for customers as a whole or for individuals. If an established, loyal customers is showing a decrease in satisfaction, that can be both a direct threat to their lifetime value and a clue that others may be feeling the same.
• Be proactive and take the first step
It’s a great thing when your customers know they can rely on the service and quality experience they will get when they reach out to you. And it’s that much greater when you reach out to them. By utilizing the power of CX data collection and analytics, businesses now have the capacity to anticipate likely next steps a customer might take on her overall customer journey. A well-timed email with perhaps a special offer for select customers or maybe just to let them know about new developments or solicit their opinions can go a long way toward cementing a profitable relationship.
• Get to know your customers online
The emergence and ubiquity of social media makes it possible (or essential, to be more accurate) for companies to expand relationships with customers far beyond the occasional transaction. Not since the days when the Mom and Pop store down the street was the center of commerce has it been so important to engage with customers, listen to them and learn from them, and enter into the conversation. Regardless of how many layers of technology businesses and their customers now navigate, commerce remains, and will always be, a simple human transaction. People like to do business with people they know and trust.
Customer satisfaction pays dividends for the long-run
There’s an interesting statistic from the White House Office of Consumer Affairs that should be either a welcome reminder or an eye-opener for any company. A loyal customer, that agency found, has a Customer Lifetime Value of us much as ten times the value of their initial purchase. That figure, especially when balanced against the high cost of acquiring a new customer, speaks volumes about the need for any company to focus its attention and resources on increasing customer satisfaction.