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Imagine you run a graphic design business and a client calls you to express concerns over a new logo you designed.
The logo matches their brand colors and expectations, but the sizes you provided are outdated and don’t fit correctly on their website or social media accounts.
They’re launching their website in two days. They’re worried you won’t be able to fix the issue in time. You’re worried you might lose a customer. You’re also worried about their impression of you.
You could just fix the sizing issue and send them on their way. Alternatively, you could fix the sizing issue, offer to upload the logos yourself to make sure they fit, and gift them with a few digital illustrations they’ve been wanting but haven’t ordered yet.
By doing the latter, you just turned a frustrated customer into a satisfied customer. More importantly, you’ve just taken the first step in developing a trusted relationship instead of a transactional one.
Whether you work for someone else or you’re the boss, if you’re wondering how much attention to pay to customer satisfaction on top of everything else on your plate or just interested in learning more about customer satisfaction, this article is for you. We’ll cover what customer satisfaction is and give you some tried-and-true tips to help you improve.
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Customer satisfaction is defined as the measurement of how a company’s products or services meet customer expectations, but really, customers are the best sources to ask when you’re looking for a customer satisfaction definition.
Don’t just ask, ‘how satisfied are you?’ Whether you’re building a reputation or a business, the relationships you build with your customers are the foundation of achieving your career goals. Given that, it’s worth periodically going deeper than just a numerical rating to understand what really matters to your customer, how they are evaluating you, and what they really need from a longer-term relationship with you.
Find out from your customers what satisfaction means to them. Sending a simple survey with a question asking ‘how would you define customer satisfaction?’ or even holding customer interviews can be great ways to determine how your customers feel about the subject.
Even if you only have a few customers, this kind of question can be invaluable to scaling your small business.
Customer satisfaction is majorly influenced by customer service and highly impacts customer loyalty.
56% of respondents in a consumer loyalty survey said that customer service is either very or extremely important in earning and keeping their loyalty to a brand.
But we’re not talking about just the minimal customer service expectations. We’re referring to customer service that goes above and beyond expectations. It’s about aligning with the customer’s wants, needs, problems, and dreams. It’s about providing a level of service that adds value to their lives.
What’s the difference between a slightly satisfied customer and a loyal customer? A slightly satisfied customer doesn’t feel pulled to stick around — they can be easily swayed to try another brand.
But a loyal customer is like a die-hard fan: they’ll not only stay with you for years to come, but they’ll also try to convince their friends to do the same.
Let’s take a look at what creates loyal customers.
Designing products and services that function as close to perfect as possible is an absolute must for achieving customer satisfaction.
At the very minimum, your products and services should be free of defects and major problems. While loyal customers are generally more forgiving, new customers will find defects completely unacceptable.
Make sure you have adequate resources, tools, supplies, and information to create products and services that tick all the boxes. If you own a small clothing company, make sure the stitching is perfect before ever shipping it out to a customer. If you have a cleaning service, don’t leave until everything is sparkling.
Offer products and services that are unmatched by your competitors..
There’s nothing customers hate more than waiting for something they are expecting. Take the stress off by setting reasonable expectations and delivering products and services on time. Unexpected problems and delays will sometimes happen. When they do, communicate early and often.
Above all else, make sure your value is delivered by a caring, friendly person even if you’re feeling frazzled and all of the unexpected is happening. Taking a minute throughout the day to acknowledge and control your emotions will help you present a better face to customers and ultimately head off more customer satisfaction issues than if you let your emotions get the better of you.
To go above and beyond, it’s best to under-promise and over-deliver and practice emotional regulation.
If you’re a wedding photographer, tell couples they can expect their digital images in six weeks, but try to deliver them in three to four. Remember, whoever delivers your product must be kind and caring. Even if you deliver on time or early, if the delivery person is rude, it’ll tarnish the customer experience.
Research your customers’ pain points and solve them ahead of time. Ask them what’s influenced them to stop shopping with other small businesses in the past.
Do they hate waiting for responses to complaints and problems? Change your 48-hour response policy to a 24-hour response policy, add a chatbot to your site, and include a self-service FAQ page.
Are they offended when small businesses don’t talk about important current events and political issues? Make sure to honor and pay respect to important causes on your social media pages.
Creating an effective problem resolution process is one of the best ways to keep an unhappy customer from leaving.
This means solving their problem as quickly as possible, and giving them a resolution they’re happy with — like a free, delicious dessert because their food came out late.
Customers want to know that if they come to you with an issue, the resolution won’t feel like pulling teeth.
Everything else in your small business could be going great, but a lack of proper customer support can make it all come crashing down.
Make sure you’re giving compassionate customer support that’s solution-focused during each part of the customer journey.
That means onboarding processes and returns should be smooth rather than lengthy. Ordering should be easy and convenient and if customers have questions or concerns, you either have an answer for them or dedicate time to finding one.
When customers ask for support, you have a prime opportunity to show them that they chose the right brand and that they can trust you to find a solution.
The metrics you choose will depend on your specific business goals, but here are some common metrics that measure customer satisfaction.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by these metrics, we recommend you focus on CLTV, NPS, and reviews.
86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience, which means happy customers will lead to more revenue.
Unhappy customers can wreak havoc on your small business — especially if they leave negative reviews. While an occasional negative review won’t break your business, 92% of consumers are less likely to use a business with consistent poor feedback and recent negative reviews.
67% of people in a recent survey agreed that “a good reputation may get me to try a product, but unless I come to trust the company behind the product, I will soon stop buying it”
A deeply satisfied customer means a lower churn rate, higher retention, and an increase in brand loyalty.
Happy customers are a great resource for stimulating brand buzz.
When your customers are ecstatic about you, they won’t be able to stop themselves from singing your praises. This means more positive reviews and more social media users bragging about you.
When brands fail their customers, word gets around quickly and can negatively affect brand reputation — that’s why it’s crucial to address every negative review with kindness and solutions. On the other side, if your customers are generally pleased, they’ll be more forgiving of a mistake here or there.
Competitors love when other brands give bad services and products, so they can swoop in and convince customers to give them a try instead. Apart from that, customers can feel a big difference between brands that value their experience and brands that don’t.
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Customers are generally willing to provide feedback and reviews, but the problem is many brands don’t bother asking them.
Here are some methods to collect customer feedback:
The method isn’t as important as the asking — just make sure you use that feedback to make positive changes.
Here are our top tips for improving customer satisfaction throughout your organization.
Circling back to the previous section, make sure to ask for customer feedback — but don’t forget to use it to improve your products, services, and business processes. Make sure to invest in customer feedback tools and customer support, or your customers will find another way to voice their concerns (like on social media).
Don’t be afraid of hearing negative feedback. Feedback is gold. A constructive conflict with a customer who is willing to tell you what isn’t working or where they disagree with you is an invaluable source of improvement and new ideas.
Customers shouldn’t feel frustrated when trying to find an answer to their questions. To prevent them from feeling confused or frustrated, conduct user experience research to find problems you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
Also, be sure to document all concerns so that you can develop a solid help documentation plan. What are your customers struggling with? Can you write a few ‘how to’ articles to help them? Can you create a whole knowledge base for them so they don’t have to reach out to you?
Finally, look into smarter customer service options, like live chat software to take some of the pressure off of you.
Use a social media listening tool to track and monitor your customers’ activities on these platforms (like any positive or negative feedback about your brand).
You can also create polls, questionnaires, and live sessions to collect additional feedback and connect deeper. If you find negative feedback, be sure to address them immediately.
Likewise, if you find positive feedback, express thanks or drop a comment saying you appreciate them as customers.
Make it easy for customers to do business with you. Send a push notification when you post updates so they can easily click on it and see what you’re up to, make checkout processes fast and easy, and create websites and landing pages that feel intuitive and easy to use.
Delight your customers by doing something extra special. Send gifts on birthdays, write handwritten thank you notes, or wow them with shiny new products and services. Getting to know your customers first will help you determine which tactics to use.
Gather members of your target audience or active customers and ask a variety of pointed questions to collect constructive criticism.
Where would your unsatisfied customers go if they choose to take their business elsewhere? What are those competitors doing right and wrong? How are they interacting with customers? What products and services do they provide?
Use these ideas to incorporate new ways to boost customer satisfaction.
Ready to unlock the potential in your organization?
With customers, you can’t afford to lose your focus when the unexpected happens. With limited resources, you have to get clear and stay clear on what type of impact matters for your business and your goals. Make sure your efforts with customers are also serving the impact you want to make.
Ready to wow your customers?
Whether you’re leading a big team or you are the whole team, building your dreams and achieving your goals takes focus, passion, and confidence. Learning the skills to lead in any situation and developing mental fitness to navigate the ups, downs, and unexpected can help you show up at your best — for your customers, your team, and yourself.
At BetterUp, we help people live their lives with more clarity, purpose, and passion to reach their highest potential.