Customer satisfaction has a huge impact on business success. A satisfied customer is more likely to buy again and invite others to do the same; this cultivates customer loyalty, expands your market scope, and grows your business. On the other hand, poor customer experience can ruin your sales figures and growth projections.
Let’s look at what it takes to keep customers happy.
What is customer satisfaction, and why is it so important?
Customer satisfaction is a measure of how people feel interacting with your brand and its products or services. However, satisfying a customer is not so straightforward. Satisfaction levels depend on a combination of various factors (from the customer’s perspective), mainly:
- Perceived brand/service/product value and quality
- Customer expectations
- Business accessibility
- Business-customer communications, engagements, and interactions
- General customer service
Everything from the pricing and customer support infrastructure to buying processes contributes to the customer experience, which is why customer satisfaction is so hard to pin down.
The 2022 Global Consumer Trends report clearly illustrates customer satisfaction’s role in customer retention, revenue generation, and business growth. According to the report, bad customer experiences cost the global business community $4.7 trillion in unrealized consumer spending every year. You risk 9.5 percent of your revenue to low customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer is 3.5x more likely to buy again and 5x more likely to recommend your business to a new buyer. Yet 80 percent of consumers feel that companies need to improve their customer experience.
How to boost customer satisfaction
Since so many factors can influence the customer experience, raising satisfaction levels requires a multi-faceted approach. Here are 10 practical tips you can apply today to keep customers happy:
Understand your customer
The first step in building customer satisfaction is figuring out who your customers are and what satisfies them. Understanding your customers will help you to better anticipate and meet their needs. There’s a lot of actionable information you can learn about your customers, including:
- Who they are
- What they buy
- What they do
- Why, when, and how they buy
- What they expect from you
- What they think about your business
- Why they choose you over other businesses
Nowadays, it’s pretty easy to gather and analyze vast volumes of insightful customer information with robust data systems and third-party solutions such as surveys. The goal is to develop a set of personas representing your customer base. This detailed representation should direct you in improving your services or products with customer satisfaction in mind.
Invest in omnichannel customer support
The easier it is for customers to contact you, the higher their satisfaction levels. Offering omnichannel support simply means “be where the customers are.” Make it easier for customers to reach your business through every possible means, be it live chat, email, social media, voice call, text message, or even in-person meetings.
Omnichannel support allows you to engage customers across multiple touchpoints and meet a wide range of communication preferences. This means customers can comfortably contact your business through whatever means is available to them, resulting in a more seamless engagement experience. Also, analyzing support performance from multiple channels generates valuable insights into understanding your customers.
Focus on customer engagement
Maintain constant engagement with each customer from the moment they first contact the business and long after they buy. Begin by welcoming the customer to your business, guiding them through the purchase processes while answering all their questions, and finally following up on them after the purchase. Follow up still, even if they don’t buy.
Constant engagement, whether through customer service agents or automated systems, makes the customer feel cared for and valued. It also minimizes customer churn. For instance, online retail businesses often use continuous engagement techniques to reduce cart abandonment.
Additionally, the feedback you get from customer engagements can help smoothen the customer journey, simplify buying processes, and improve your offerings.
Provide real-time self-service assistance
It may not be possible to engage each and every customer as intimately as you may like. So set up the convenient infrastructure to help your customers help themselves in real time. Actually, a majority of consumers prefer real-time self-service assistance to conventional customer support most of the time. A report by Microsoft shows that 86 percent of consumers expect online self-service options, and two-thirds of consumers will try self-service support before contacting customer service.
A self-service resource can be a blog, chatbot, customer portal, FAQ page, video, or anything that helps customers get quick answers without contacting support.
Self-service not only satisfies customers but also reduces support tickets. Since the customers are happy resolving simple issues themselves, you can reserve live support for more complex or sensitive cases.
Listen to your customers
Keep your ear to the ground and listen to what your customers say about your business and its offerings. Customers will deliberately or unintentionally rate your brand through word of mouth on social media, review sites, and testimonials. You can even solicit customer feedback from simple after-sales surveys and on-site reviews. In fact, you should put extra effort into gathering customer feedback by encouraging buyers to share their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions.
But customer feedback is only useful if you act on it. Listening to customers can help you spot and fix troubling trends and validate your customer satisfaction efforts. You might just be surprised to learn what customers actually like or dislike about your business or its products and services.
Respond to reviews, especially the bad ones
Reviews have an immense influence over brand reputation and customer trust. They are also a strong marker for customer satisfaction. 89 percent of consumers check online reviews before making a purchase. And interestingly, 64 percent of consumers would rather buy from a company that responds to reviews than one with seemingly perfect ratings. This actually makes sense because not everyone will like your business or its products, so you can’t expect glowing 5-star ratings all around. In other words, responding to reviews (especially negative ones) is arguably more important than chasing a flawless review page.
Responding to negative reviews by taking responsibility and offering some form of restitution to disgruntled customers shows you truly value customer satisfaction. It’s also an effective way to turn a bad customer experience around and build closer relationships with existing and potential buyers.
Personalization is a big deal in customer satisfaction. Industrial insights and case studies show that personalizing the customer experience significantly boosts customer satisfaction rates, conversions, and sales.
Personalizing the customer experience can be as simple as addressing customers by name in outreach emails or as complex as developing a unique customer journey for each client. The level of personalization will largely depend on the nature of your business and its clientele.
Reward loyal customers
A customer loyalty program can go a long way in fostering long-term relationships with buyers. Everyone likes to get rewarded, even if it’s just for participating. A reward as small as a coupon, 10 percent discount, free shipping, or branded novelty can leave the recipient feeling valued and appreciated.
Most of the big consumer brands, including Amazon, Microsoft, Walmart, and Starbucks, reward their customers in one way or another. So, it must be a strategy that works. And it can work for you too; you just need to come up with a meaningful way to show customer appreciation.
Track the numbers
Customer satisfaction is measurable. Satisfaction figures give you valuable and actionable insights into your overall business performance and show you areas needing improvement. Quantifying customer satisfaction relies on feedback from multiple customer touchpoints. Satisfaction levels are measured using three main quantitative metrics:
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) – measures whether customers are happy with your products or services. It poses the question, “How satisfied were you with this product?” Customers can pick an answer from a numerical scale (1–5, 1–10, 1–100, etc.) or an options list (“extremely unsatisfied” to “extremely satisfied”).
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) – measures customer loyalty or the likelihood for repurchase and referral. A typical NPS survey goes like this: “On a scale of 1 to 5, how likely are you to recommend this product to a friend or colleague?”
- Customer Effort Score (CES) – measures a customer’s effort in getting an issue solved, having a request fulfilled, or using a particular service or product. Here’s an example of a CES question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the performance of this product?”
These measurements are taken as part of the after-sale follow-up feedback, and the enumerated results can be expressed as distribution curves or percentages. Quantifying customer satisfaction using a granular approach can help pinpoint exactly where you’re going wrong, which could be low product quality, overpricing, or a lapse in customer support.
Dedicate a team of professionals to customer service
Working on customer satisfaction is a team effort. Any helpful insight gathered on customer satisfaction needs to be shared across all departments so that everyone plays their part. In addition to the unified effort, you also need a dedicated team of professionals to handle customer service. It’s not a good idea to have just any employee answer customer calls or respond to customer inquiries. Why? Because customer support is an art. There’s a professional method to engaging clients, replying to customers’ messages, and even responding to online reviews.
Your product, price point, customer journey, and buying process might all be right on point, only to be let down by poor customer service. The in-house staff may lack the professional skills, etiquette, or temperament to deal with customers. And this is a gamble you can’t afford to take. Instead of dicing with customer satisfaction, right where it matters most, why not hire a dedicated customer support team or outsource customer service to a professional agency?
That’s where AnswerAide comes in. We offer professional telephone answering and virtual receptionist services to guarantee world-class customer service in any business. Building and maintaining high customer satisfaction levels is undoubtedly challenging, but we can make it easy for you. Talk to us to learn more about outsourcing your customer service to a team of proven hands-on professionals.