Simple Ways to Ensure Customer Satisfaction
When you get your first paying customer (or the 452th one), it’s an ultimate validation of the core of your business existence.
Call it fruits of your labor or a humble reminder that your products and services are still doing what they were supposed to: solve a real problem for your customers.
We know – and you know – that the cost of acquiring new customers is high and hence the need for customer retention. Customers who already trusted you with their hard-earned money are more likely to buy more (and buy often) than new ones. Yet, it’s the new customers that are more expensive to acquire.
Just when we all think that this is common sense and that good customer service is critical for business, we realize that a simple concept like “customer service” isn’t much of a priority for most businesses. It might seem like it is. Businesses do claim that customer satisfaction is important.
Many businesses even make attempts to get this part of the business right. Yet, it’s not a complete picture.
And it hurts.
A study by Gartner found that more than 89% of companies do plan on “competing” on customer experience alone. Yet, according to Kelvin Claveria of Vision Critical [https://www.visioncritical.com/bad-customer-service-and-customer-experience/], the total cost of customer frustration – which we conveniently assume as the opposite of customer satisfaction – is a whopping $1.6 trillion in the United States.
The 11th Annual Accenture global Consumer Pulse Survey measured collective experiences of more than 24,489 customers in 33 countries, across 11 industries and the report revealed that 52% of consumers have switched providers in the last one year alone due to poor customer service.
Not ensuring good customer service costs money, and allows your competitors to score over you.
Here’s how you can ensure customer satisfaction:
Get Proactive and Be Strategic
Improving customer satisfaction takes a strategic approach – you can’t wing it, and you certainly can’t make it an afterthought.
Starting from strategic leadership all the way down to every employee, customer satisfaction is only possible when you take a bird’s eye view of the complete customer journey (and not just the usual customer touch points such as the time a customer calls in to speak with someone in your business).
Building customer centric processes, ensuring continuous feedback for customers at all points during the customer journey, and being proactive about reaching out to your customers are good starting points.
No business gets it right all the time. Your products and services might not cater to all customers and not all customers are going to be happy all the time. By being transparent, your business takes on the mantle of responsibility for customers’ dissatisfaction.
It’s easy to write this but extremely hard to implement. Transparency extends itself into all areas of your business – from communication to pricing; from customer interactions to follow-ups; from sales pitches to after-sales customer support. Make use of your deep understanding of your customers, identify gaps in buyer journeys, and learn from customer complaints.
When you go wrong, as you might eventually do, be quick to find ways to retain customers. Honesty, the speed with which you resolve issues, and transparency go a long way to help retain customers.
It also makes business sense because at least 45% of customers are willing to pay more for better customer service.
With the advent of “digital”, “SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud)”, technology is certainly here to ease the work that goes into working with customers and strive for customer satisfaction.
Despite the digital onslaught, the Accenture study above also found that more than 83% of US consumers prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels.
Use technology to make it easier for customers to reach out to you, but don’t forget that customers still need to talk to real humans on the other end of the line. Keep the gates open, let them reach out to you by phone, email, or in person.
Activate your social channels as parallel communication channels and ensure that you have basics such as customer support ticket system, a way to handle inbound emails and calls, and even a knowledge base to help streamline your customer service efforts.
Get Everyone on the Bus
Customer service is important. It makes money, helps customers get a better experience, and also helps you remain competitive. Most business owners know this, and top managements of many companies know this as well.
So, why the 1.6 trillion loss due to bad customer support?
It’s not enough that a few top executives, CXOs, and senior management know about it – the benefits of customer support and the need for ensuring customer satisfaction has to start from the top and go down through every level of the organization.
Unless the entire company feels “customer support” is critical and it’s a part of every employee’s job description, it’s hard to pull off a company-wide unison that’s needed for better customer satisfaction.
Take customer service – and the skillsets needed – and make that a part of every employee’s induction and ongoing training. Gregory Ciotti of HelpScout lists out absolutely mandatory skills for employees to help deliver superior customer support including skills like patience, attentiveness, great communication skills, product knowledge, positive language skills, ability to understand customer insights and to “read their mind”, and more.
Unless everyone gets on the intense, ongoing, and almost mandatory need for ensuring better customer satisfaction in your business, customer satisfaction is going to be patchy and inconsistent.
To ensure better customer service isn’t just an idea, a “to-do list entry” in senior management’s agenda, or something that you “should do”.
Everything else being equal in the industry you operate in, customer service could be a singular winner for your business.
How do you go about ensuring customer satisfaction in your business? What can be a few simple ways every business can ensure happy customers, for a long time? Tell us all about it.