Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Customer experience, customer satisfaction, customer management. All of these carry a number of definitions of customer satisfaction, but they are all focused on the same thing – how a company’s product or service measures up to customer expectation. Companies place a great deal of focus on customer satisfaction because it can have a major impact on revenue – the higher the level of customer satisfaction, the more likely customers are to remain as customers. Furthermore, a high level of customer satisfaction increases the likelihood of revenue generated from customer referrals and helps you to build your brand.
According to new report from CFI Group, customer satisfaction levels have experienced a slight decline over the past year. Data compiled from consumers across various sectors reflects a customer satisfaction score of 68 (out of 100), a four-point decline from the previous year. While there’s no one solution for improving customer satisfaction levels, the key is to develop a customer-centric mindset that will help inform decisions and company direction. This year’s reading is the lowest score since the report was first issued and it represents the uphill climb many companies face in satisfying increasingly demanding consumers.
So what are some ways companies can drive customer satisfaction in today’s consumer-centric landscape? Here are 13 tips:
1. Study how you are doing business and interacting with your clients
Because consumers are operating differently today, and more differently tomorrow, companies must embrace the environment in which they are operating. It’s only fair to customers that companies rethink their approach to doing business and building relationships with them. (Source: DestinationCRM)
2. Use the golden rule:
Treat customers like you would want to be treated. Remember that your customer wants to see the sunny side of you and your business, so have your filter on and put yourself in their shoes. A good way to instill this attitude among your staff is to do some simple role play in which they act out a few scenarios that involve both easy-going and difficult customers. Observe how they handle the situation and coach them on areas to improve. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration)
3. Ask how you clients would like to be communicated with – provide multi-channel support
With newer communications channels such as social, mobile, web chat, and email becoming increasingly important to customers, companies must develop an omnichannel approach to their customer service in order to connect with customers on the channels they prefer to use. Multichannel support not only offers customers a seamless transition between channels; it also prevents them from having to repeat information they may have already provided to different call center agents, which can be both irritating to customers and potentially damaging to a company’s reputation. See our blog on the importance of generational routing. (Source: CallMiner)
4. Make employee satisfaction a priority
Simply put, when your employees are happy, they can provide better customer service. Studies have proven that employees often perform better at the jobs when they feel appreciated. Give each employee a personalized ‘thank you’ every now and then, and introduce an employee of the month program, if you don’t have one already. If you can help your employees take pride in their jobs, their work performance will also improve. (Source: CustomerThink)
5. Turn customer survey data into action - benchmark customer satisfaction
Benchmarking is the process of comparing your own organization or operations against other organizations in your industry or in the broader marketplace.
You might compare your most successful competitor’s customer processes and satisfaction with your own. Or, you might look at a firm outside of your industry known for remarkable customer service practices. Establishing a benchmarking initiative is an important component of measuring and improving your customer service and satisfaction.(Source: the balance) Good data reflects the experiences your customers actually have with your company. Furthermore, good data equips your company to take action. The key is to develop a satisfaction survey that probes truthfully into the heart of your gaps and opportunities. (Source: Smart Customer Service)
6. Be proactive
The key here is to contact your customers before they need to pick up the phone and contact you! To be effective, these contacts should be timely, personalized and relevant to the consumer. The best proactive strategies make regular contact throughout the consumer life cycle. Examples include: payment reminders, fraud monitoring, and personalized loyalty and reward schemes. This strategy can reduce inbound calls and improve agent efficiency. This proves that offering great customer service isn’t just good for the consumer, it’s good for the business as well. (Source: Call Centre Helper)
In everything you do, make sure the customer feels like he or she is the only one that matters. Use the customer’s name, refer to personal information and congratulate a customer on his or her birthday. Make them feel at home. (Source: Tech Target)
8. Slash wait times
Everyone is busy, and if your company can’t provide the highest levels of service your customers won’t hesitate to find someone who can. Customer wait time needs to be eliminated or managed. Bureaucracy needs to be replaced with customer-friendly processes. Be easy to do business with, and your customers will reward you over and over again. (Source: Inc.)
9. Put a social media plan in place
Customers are increasingly demanding speedy responses—sometimes as quickly as in real time—to their complaints on social media. A company that isn’t paying attention can wreak havoc with its reputation. (Source: Smart Customer Service)
10. Demonstrate product knowledge
One of the most important aspects of successful customer service revolves around product knowledge. In other words, any and all agents who have direct customer contact should know the company’s product and/or service inside and out.In many cases, developing robust product knowledge involves managers helping agents build their confidence so they’re motivated to succeed. To do this, managers might try mapping out their assessment of an agent’s product knowledge and compare it against other agents identifying any gaps that exist and making it easier to put together a professional development plan for the future.” (Source: CallMiner)
11. 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. (Source: Nonorep)
12. Study complaints and compliments
Every message from a customer presents an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction. Compliments show you what to reinforce, while complaints point to new ideas and action steps for improvement.(Source: UP! Your Service)
13. Offer additional benefits
Free training and support Who doesn’t like added benefits? Or, a special offer once in a while? Surprising your customers with a free goodie unexpectedly can go a long way in building concrete relationships. Sometimes an unanticipated discount on the products your customers have been eying for some time can work. On other events, you can consider throwing in an additional accessory or a week’s worth post-purchase support for free. You would be amazed at how effective these little things can be in building a positive image of your brand. It helps in increasing customer satisfaction immensely.”
(Source: Tweak Your Biz)
What is the Importance of Customer Satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction is an important metric for companies as it provides an insight into things like customer loyalty, likelihood of churn, and also helps identify issues with the product or service. Companies that provide a high level of customer satisfaction can also use it to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
The importance of customer satisfaction was highlighted by a 2008 survey conducted by Accenture which showed that poor customer service, and not price, was the main reason for customer churn. By increasing the level of customer satisfaction you can reduce customer churn rates at your company.
Similarly, a high level of customer satisfaction reduces negative word of mouth. McKinsey estimates that an unhappy customer tells 9-15 people about their bad experience. One thing companies who provide a low level of customer service sometimes overlook is the collateral damage caused by unhappy customers. It is bad enough losing business because you provided a customer with a low level of service, but what about losing 15 more customers as a result? Customer satisfaction can have a massive impact on your business and appropriate care should be taken. You should also remember that acquiring new clients is a lot more expensive that keeping the clients you already have. Misallocating resources and overlooking customer happiness as you chase new business opportunities is a common mistake that must be avoided.
While there’s no one solution for improving customer satisfaction levels, the key is to develop a customer-centric mindset that will help inform decisions and company direction. Feel free to view our short (1-minute) customer experience video. We also have several videos in our library highlighting the importance of great customer service and how to provide a strong customer experience. Check them out here on our website.
To receive guidance and expertise on how to improve your customer experience from a Technology Advisor that has relationships with best-of-breed companies (including over 175 suppliers) with no consultation fee, please contact Simplify My Communications at 713.910.1401.