Above everything else in your business, satisfying your customers should be the most important goal.
Because by satisfying your customers, you build ultimate loyalty and trust in your brand and in your distinct services and products. This loyalty in your product does not only help you retain your customers- which is more cost-effective than hunting for new customers but, it also brings quality referrals and reviews from them, boosting your credibility and product rankings.
Now that you know how important customer satisfaction is, the next question is, ‘How can you ensure or improve the satisfaction of your customers?’
There’s a number of things you need to do, which we will discuss in this post, but first, we need to understand what customer satisfaction is.
What is Customer Satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction means the degree to which a company’s customers are happy with their purchase or experience with the company. (Source)
Customer Satisfaction is the answer to the question, “How impressed or pleased are our customers with their experience with our business?”
If the answer is “Very impressed” or “Highly displeased,” then there you have the degree of satisfaction of your customers.
But you may be wondering, “How do I measure the degree of satisfaction of my customers?” How can you really know if they are satisfied or not? Let me show you how in the next section.
Measuring Customer Satisfaction
To be able to know how satisfied your consumers are and to achieve customer satisfaction, there needs to be some way of measuring it. Here are some ways to measure how satisfied your customers are.
Giving out surveys is a great way to get feedback from your customers. Survey responses give you information on how satisfied your customers are.
The amount of information you get from surveys depends on how detailed your questions are, and the structure of your questions also determines what kind of responses you get.
Give room for customers to give detailed answers. You could also use close-ended questions; it all depends on how much and what information you want to get from the survey. The general responses you get from customer satisfaction surveys tell you how satisfied your customers are.
2. Ratings and reviews:
There are lots of platforms for product reviews. The reviews that customers give to your products easily helps you know how satisfied they are. Customers also give reviews on social media platforms so you can look out for comments or posts on your products.
According to Brightlocal.com, 86% of consumers would consider writing a review for a business, and 82% of consumers visit review sites because they want to purchase a service or a product, according to Revlocal.com.
Now those are high numbers, which only shows how critical reviews are in the consumer world and, ultimately, how important it is to ensure that you satisfy your customers.
3. Direct Feedback:
This is one of the purest and most clear forms of feedback. When customers directly tell you their opinions about your products in real-time, or face to face, it gives you a more focused interaction with them.
Not only does it allow you to better understand how they feel, but it also lets you see their expressions or tone when speaking, and it clearly shows you how satisfied they are. You can get direct feedback from customers through calls with them or even direct contact. This way, you can understand how they feel and make improvements from there.
4. Customer Engagement on platforms:
How active are customers on your social media platforms? Do they interact with your business? The activity of your customers on your website and social media accounts is a reliable indicator of how interested they are.
Happy customers are more likely to like or comment on your posts. They are also more likely to give positive reviews on your platforms.
Imagine that a customer had a terrible experience with a business, they’d probably never have anything to do with their platforms (except to give bad reviews of course).
5. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT):
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is the most straightforward of the customer satisfaction survey methodologies, and it is effective too. Using a customer satisfaction score allows you to see how customers feel about your product or service on a scale rating, say, 1-10.
It’s easy for the customer to make responses, and it’s also easy for you to analyze (win-win situation here). Seeing the average ratings on a question like “How did we perform today?” can give you an idea of how satisfied customers are with your business.
Improving Customer Satisfaction
Now that you know how to measure the satisfaction of your customers, how can you transform “bad” to “good” or “good” to “awesome!” Well, that’s what we will talk about now.
To improve the level of satisfaction of your customers, you should put some things in place. Here are some ways to improve customer satisfaction:
1. Match your services with customer expectations:
After giving surveys or getting feedback from your customers, you would have an idea of what exactly your customers expect of you. To achieve customer satisfaction, it’s a good idea to try to meet the expectations of your customers.
Put measures in place to see that your business satisfies the needs of customers. Companies that focus on meeting the expectations of their customers perform better than those that don’t. So by meeting customer expectations, you both improve your business’s performance and make your customers happy and more loyal to your business.
2. Be up to date on the latest trends:
Everyday, firms are innovating and becoming more creative. Trends are continually changing, and businesses are quickly adjusting their operations to meet the demands of customers, and you do not want to be left behind.
To keep your customers satisfied regardless of the competition, you have to know the trends and adjust your services to meet the changing trends.
3. Simplify tasks:
People would rather do something less tedious than not. The same goes for your customers. To improve their level of satisfaction, you have to simplify work and make life easier for them.
If there’s a less stressful way to get something done, then remove all the extra procedures and make things easier. Most times, it reduces costs for you too.
4. Follow up:
For your business to stand out from the competition and satisfy your customers maximally, you need to follow up with your customers.
Don’t just sell a product or service and end there. Instead, give your customer calls or send emails to find out how satisfied they are with whatever service or product you have offered.
A 10% increase in a company’s customer satisfaction score leads to a 12% increase in trust from customers. (Institute of Customer Service)
And following up with customers is a sure way of increasing the customer satisfaction score.
5. Give proper support and assistance:
Customers expect high-quality support from every business. The amount of competition in today’s businesses hardly gives any company a chance to slack off.
Around the globe, 96% of consumers say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand. (Microsoft)
So if you want to retain your customers, you have to offer exceptional customer service to them. Answer their inquiries on time, reduce the wait times on calls, and even emails.
Forrester’s Raising the Bar report found that 1 in 5 customers are willing to stop using a product or service for slow response times via online chat.
When it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price (Gartner)
6. Encourage participation/ Feedback:
Customers are not always willing to give feedback immediately, but when they do, they feel happy about it, especially if you paid attention or showed interest in their suggestion or report.
11% of customer churn could be avoided if the business simply reached out to the customer. (Kolsky)
How do you encourage them to give feedback?
Use a live chat option if you can respond on time. Live chat has the highest expectations of all feedback platforms, and the later you reply, the less willing your customers are to do business with you.
Send emails: Don’t only send promotional emails, also send feedback emails, deliberately ask customers to make suggestions, ask open-ended questions like “what do you think we need to improve?”
Remember that customers are the reason you are improving, so what better source is there to get quality information for improvement?
7. Recognise customers on an individual level:
Addressing customers by their names makes them feel more comfortable doing business with you.
Personalized emails including the recipient’s first name in the subject line can boost open rates by 29.3% (Source)
Send them birthday mails or better still, birthday calls. It brings a sense of importance to them that you treat them not just as another customer but as an actual person, a real human.
8. Remove discomforts:
If there is something that is bugging your customers, then you should change it.
Loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new offering. (Temkin Group)
But although many loyal customers are willing to forgive, there’s a limit to how much they can stand and how long they can wait, so you should work hard to remove every form of discomfort to your customers.
Of course, no business is perfect, and customers are willing to understand if they see that you are genuinely putting in the effort to do something about the issue they are facing.
But you need to make a conscious effort.
9. Give discounts or coupons:
Did you know that giving coupons makes people happier? According to a study by Claremont Graduate University, people who received coupons were 11% happier than those who didn’t.
I’m sure you can relate to this. How do you feel when you get a discount or a coupon? Great right?
That’s exactly how your customers feel when you give out discounts of some sort. Giving freebies is a great way to keep your customers satisfied with your business too.
Practical Examples for Improving Customer Satisfaction
- Every customer has expectations before purchasing a good or service. Let’s use a laundry service as an example. When customers hand in their clothes for dry cleaning, of course, they expect it to return clean, but what specific results are they looking out for? What extra bonuses are they looking to see?
This is where we make use of one of the measures of customer satisfaction.
Find out what they need and what they expect from your service. A bonus point here is also to distinguish your product by focusing or specializing on one of your business strengths to stand out from the competition. For example, if the customers want to see speedy delivery, better packaging, or even bonuses, work on all of them but pick one and specialize on it to build your trademark.
- Consumer trends change from time to time. Take, for instance; you run a clothing store. Apart from knowing who your target customers are, you can gather statistics on who visits your store, and at what time.
Do people visit more during the holidays? Are there more young people or older people buying from you?
Also, find out what those customers expect to see, do they want to see more T-shirts, more suits? Compare your observations and find out what trends are common and what trends are fading. Using that information, you can restock your shelves.
- Simplify tasks: Making life easier for customers is the key to making them satisfied with your business. Let’s go back to the laundry service example. Consider a laundry service where the customers had to come by the office to hand in their clothes. An excellent way to simplify tasks would be to make provisions for clothing pick up and delivery.
Every business wants to have satisfied customers. But many times, the right way to satisfy customers is not so obvious.
It does not have to be difficult, and that’s why I broke down the necessary steps you can take to not only satisfy your customers for a moment but to keep them happy in the long term.
Follow the guidelines in the post to see a massive increase in the satisfaction levels of your customers.
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Esther Alu, the Founder of TheAceBusiness.com is an entrepreneur who writes step-by-step guides for starting several business ideas. She is constantly learning and discovering effective ways to help her readers launch and grow successful businesses.