According to a study performed by McKinsey, global digitalization has accelerated by 7 years in 2020 alone.
As a result, the number of online consumers has grown rapidly, but so did the number of potential competitors. How can you stand out in this crowded market?
There is one differentiating factor that can help your business to outshine the others, no matter how tough the competition is - customer satisfaction.
While many companies will tell you that the center of their business is their customer, but is it really so? Do they really know what their customers need or what issues they have?
In this post, we will explain what customer satisfaction actually means and most important go over tips on how to measure and improve it.What is Customer Satisfaction?
How to Measure Customer Satisfaction
Why is Customer Satisfaction Important?
How to Improve Customer Satisfaction?
What is Customer Satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction is how a business can measure how well its product/service meets customer expectations and how customers feel about their experience/interaction with the said business.
Customer satisfaction is closely related to customer service, retention, and loyalty. Let’s take those one at a time to understand better what customer satisfaction is.
First up, customer service. It’s what can make or break a business. With so many options out there, customers narrow down their decisions based on emotions. And good customer service translates into positive feelings towards your brand.
Delivering excellent customer service helps you retain more customers, attract new ones, and promote your business further.
Next up, retention. Customer satisfaction is all about knowing what your customers need, want, and expect. Constantly staying on top of your customer's expectations and desires is bound to get your business to the top of their wish list.
Last but not least, loyalty. Evaluating customer satisfaction levels and striving to increase them will also increase customer loyalty levels. And while loyalty may seem like it brings the same benefits as retention, it goes one step further.
Loyalty not only turns your customers into return customers but into promoters of your brand. It means unlimited free (and valuable) marketing that can grow your business.
Customer satisfaction tools can also help you obtain information on:
- Company/product/service weak points
- Customer support weak points
- Customer engagement levels
- How to improve customer targeting
- Inactive leads
- How to improve conversion rates
How to Measure Customer Satisfaction
You have quite a few options for measuring customer satisfaction. There are different methods and also different metrics available.
One of the most popular ones is surveys.
No matter if you choose a customer satisfaction score (CSAT), customer effort score (CES), or net promoter score (NPS) survey, here are a few basic guidelines to follow:
- Don’t waste your customers’ time asking irrelevant questions
- Keep your questions short and focused on improving customer loyalty
- Don’t use leading questions
- Use consistent rating scales to keep results accurate
To better target your results, focus your customer satisfaction survey questions on the aspect you want to know more about. You can ask for:
- General feedback
- Purchase feedback
- Product/service feedback
- Website feedback
- Customer support feedback
- Marketing feedback
- Competition feedback
Here’s a helpful additional resource with various types of survey questions you can ask.
Now, let’s get into the most popular types of customer satisfaction surveys you can use:
Direct Feedback Customer Satisfaction Surveys
If you want to know where your customer satisfaction levels are, ask your customers directly. Use a customer satisfaction survey to understand how happy your customers are and what may need improving.
Post-Service Customer Satisfaction Surveys
You should send these customer satisfaction surveys right after a customer’s interaction with the company. Be it a purchase or a customer support interaction. You can conduct these surveys by live chat, email, or phone.
Email Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Another way to assess customer satisfaction is by email. While email surveys don’t have the best response rates, they do give the respondent the choice to answer when they can. This way, the customers who will accept answering questions will also be more likely to provide more information than if contacted by live chat or phone.
Volunteered Customer Satisfaction
Remember the old suggestion box?
Offering your customers a simple way to provide any feedback on your product/service or brand is a great way to collect information. You can also use incentives to increase the level of customer satisfaction feedback you get.
Why is Customer Satisfaction Important?
Although I find it hard to believe anyone would be asking this question, let’s see why customer satisfaction is essential.
Knowing how satisfied your customers are with the quality of your product/service and your support is clearly essential to your business. It can help you:
- Retain customers and reduce marketing costs
- Gain more customers through loyal customers
- Convert more customers by bridging the gap between customer expectations and your product/service
- Improve customer service
- Gain more brand awareness
How else can you know if your customers are happy, if you are doing the right thing, and if you are meeting (or hopefully exceeding) expectations? Customer satisfaction is the only tool that can give you all this information.
Measuring customer satisfaction helps identify where a business is now and where it can be in the future. Identifying weak points or areas that need improvement is a vital part of marketing intelligence, and there can be no business growth or sustainable business without it.
On top of that, customer satisfaction can also open the door to new opportunities like developing a new product/service based on customer feedback.
How to Improve Customer Satisfaction?
To improve customer satisfaction, you need to go all in. Leave no stone unturned and provide customers with as many opportunities to provide feedback as you can.
Here are only a few surefire ways to increase customer satisfaction quickly:
1. Provide as many channels for customer feedback as possible
The easier you make it for customers to communicate their satisfaction levels, the more information you will collect. The more information you collect, the more you will know about how to make them happy.
That’s why you should be ready to provide multi-channel feedback options. Investing in tools that will reveal where your customer satisfaction levels are at will pay off.
You can use:
- Live chat
- Social media
Every customer will have a different preference when it comes to providing feedback. And you’ll need to make sure you get as many customers involved as you can. So, provide as many channels as possible and constantly remind your customers that they should use them.
2. Ask the right customer satisfaction questions
If you’re using customer surveys to improve satisfaction levels, pay extra attention to the questions. Customer satisfaction surveys are only as valuable as the questions you ask.
First of all, to make sure you get as many respondents and answers as possible, you’ll need to:
- Provide easily understandable and answerable, short questions
- Avoid open-ended questions
- Ask questions that are relevant to your objectives
- Don’t over-crowd the survey with additional, unrelated questions
- Avoid leading questions
The possibilities of questions are endless, even if among the most common, we can cite as an example:
- How long have you been using the product?
- Which product features do you consider the most valuable?
- How easy is it to navigate our website?
- Which alternatives did you consider before purchasing the product?
- Did you feel that our team answered your inquiry promptly?
3. Don’t shy away from complaints
No one likes negative reviews and complaints. But they are precious when it comes to customer satisfaction.
Negative feedback is a useful resource to find out what customers want and why you’re not delivering that. They are a great chance to not only make your customers feel heard but to let criticism be the cornerstone of your development.
Let negative reviews be one of the main aspects you analyze when trying to identify what needs improvement. You could find that some of your processes need to be reorganized. Or that your customers require more information/attention to feel satisfied. Or that your staff needs more training.
If you don’t encourage your customers to complain to you, they’ll complain to their friends, family, and social media. And that can have a terrible effect on your brand’s online reputation.
Word-of-mouth is good, but negative word-of-mouth can be troublesome.
Best practices when it comes to negative reviews are:
- Constantly track negative feedback
- Don’t leave negative reviews unanswered or unattended
- Keep customers informed on how you plan to approach the situation
- Keep customers informed on how the solution is going
- Avoid anything that can emotionally trigger your customer or add to their frustration
4. Make customer feedback a company resource.
Ideally, the information you obtain from customer satisfaction surveys or other forms of feedback will be organized, categorized, analyzed, and prioritized. It should be carefully grouped and evaluated depending on what process it refers to and how you can deal with it.
There are multiple ways of organizing your customer feedback. To help your different teams leveraging it at best, you can opt for a traditional classification between:
- Product feedback is focused on all the information related to your products and services and leads you to product improvement.
- Customer service feedback is all the data you gather about customer relations with your representatives, response time, or pain points.
- Marketing and sales feedback will help you avoid problems such as undelivered promises and unmet deadlines.
Most importantly, you must share your customer satisfaction findings.
All of your teams can benefit from customer feedback data, and it takes a village to make a customer happy. It will take all your departments’ involvement to deliver the best product/service to your customers, and they should all be in on what the customer thinks.
In the end, the more people are working on making the customer happy, the better. The best and most successful businesses are centered around the customer’s satisfaction, and it’s a company policy that can drive your brand’s development.
5. Take a walk in the customer’s shoes.
The best way to improve customer satisfaction levels and pinpoint problem areas is to become a customer. You can do it yourself or use a focus group.
Conducting user experience research can help you identify any customer journey issues that may be causing frustration.
For instance, you may find that your website doesn’t provide enough information to visitors that are not familiar with your brand or your product/service. Or, it’s unclear where a user can find additional information or contact your support team.
Go through each touchpoint a customer would go through. This way, you can create a complete list of issues that can be fixed or improved. Then, you can categorize the items on your list and prioritize them to provide better customer service.
While you’re at it, you can also walk in your competition’s customer’s shoes. See what the customer journey is like on the other side of the fence. You may gain some interesting perspectives.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are they providing something you are not?
- How easy is it to navigate their website?
- How well-trained and helpful is their customer service?
- Are they making it easier for the customer to go through each touchpoint?
- Do they use incentives or touch on customer emotions you don’t?
- What would make a customer choose your competition over you?
6. Make the most of social media.
Social media is a good source of customer feedback and a great way to evaluate customer satisfaction.
Many customers find it easier to express themselves and share their experiences with a product or a brand on social networks. You should constantly monitor social media activities to stay on top of any negative reviews and collect information on how happy your customers are with your brand.
You will often find that customers’ information on social media is far more detailed and complete than what you would achieve with a survey.
It can also be a good source of positive feedback that you can build new ideas on.
If possible, you should dedicate a person or a team to handle your social media correctly. They should be quick to answer any comments or feedback from customers within 24 hours and collect feedback or incentivize customers to participate in assessments to measure customer satisfaction levels.
Additionally, you can use social media to educate your customers. Providing more information on your products/services in an informal environment is an efficient way to increase customer satisfaction.
7. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Effort - is the one thing you should not ask your customers.
The customer effort score must be kept at a minimum if you want satisfied customers. And this applies to everything you do. From the ease of using your product/service to the ease of finding information and getting support.
In the end, the less effort it takes for a customer to do something, the more likely they are to do it. To you, this translates into profit. Because the easier it is for a customer to buy a product/service, the more likely they are to buy it. And the easier it is to use a product/service, the more they will use it.
In the end, customer satisfaction is the crucial element to a business's success. Happy customers buy, while unhappy customers don’t.
Collecting and understanding customer feedback and satisfaction levels have to be a top priority, or else your other efforts may be in vain.
Fortunately, having read this guide, you now have all the tools to create a solid customer satisfaction strategy that will drive your decisions and your business’s development.