“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” Regardless of your industry or what your customer looks like, it is hard to argue with this well-known quote by Michael LeBoeuf. But when are customers really considered satisfied and what can such satisfaction mean for your business?
This definition by Zendesk.com is clear and simple: “Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is a measure of how well a company’s products, services, and overall customer experience meet customer expectations.” I think expectation is the key word. A week or two ago our discussion was about expectation also being at the heart of what we consider to be of good value. (Read more) So what do customers expect?
While the expectations can differ quite significantly from one consumer to the other, there are some basic expectations that a business must comply with if it wants a shot at satisfying customers. Here’s a thorough list provided by hubspot.com with my elaborations.
- Accessibility – This can be as simple as easy or available parking…
- Empathy – Intangible as empathy might be, it is a feeling that the business, its people, services or products “get” me.
- Language – In our country, it is not always possible to expect your mother tongue, but you can expect a brand language that’s clear and easy to understand.
- Response Time – How important is this?! Even without an immediate solution, a quick (and kind) response can turn the most disgruntled customer into a fan.
- Convenience – Who of us have not paid more because of the convenience factor? The option for next day (or hour!) delivery, predictive online grocery shopping, a one-stop-shop…
- Choices – Personalisation is such an important consumer trend, but even when customisation is limited, having a choice is important when it comes to having a happy customer.
- Simplicity – We’re in an age where unnecessary fluff doesn’t do you any favours. There’s so much noise in the market that consumers prefer a clear message and often relate simplicity to honesty.
- Quality – Consumers know what quality to expect for their money. Quality at the price point is non-negotiable. Over-delivering on quality might just result in that very scarce quality of customer loyalty. Even if you sell a cheap product, your service can be friendly and better than expected.
- Reasonable Prices – Consumers today are well informed and prices can be googled in an instant. Not being reasonable with your pricing doesn’t do you any favours.
- Appreciation – It’s almost like the relationship between employer and employee. Although it is all about an exchange of services/knowledge for a salary, appreciation – whether it is for the extra mile or an unexpected bonus – can go a long way to building a relationship. The same is true for customers. They pay for your product or service and if it is up to scratch, they should be satisfied. Do you show your appreciation for their support? That brings the relationship to a whole other level.
- Loyalty Programs – When they offer something of real value, loyalty programs can be a great tool to satisfy customers. Finding an offering that makes it worth the while for the consumer to participate, without asking for too much involvement from them – is the challenge.
- Community – This community can be as exact as a participant programme or a club or card holders. It can also be intangible. You might feel part of the community that drives a certain brand of car. You might not know anyone with a car like yours, but you associate with the lifestyle or associations of the brand and these are enforced by the brand house or company. Perhaps you get a bottle of champagne when you buy a luxury sedan. Perhaps complimentary membership to a 4×4 club when this is the type of vehicle you’re driving away with.
The weight of these different expectations might differ from one industry to the other, but the way in which a company meets these consumer expectations can be directly related to the success of your business. The Zendesk definition of consumer satisfaction extends to: “It reflects your business’ health by showing how well your products or services resonate with buyers.”
Why do businesses need satisfied customers? To continue doing business of course! The customer pool might be vast, but so is the competition in business. You want customers to return. You want them to trust you when they make big purchasing decisions. You want them to recommend you – and remember – unhappy customers are usually more vocal…
How do you know if your customers are satisfied? It might reflect in your bottom line of course, but do you want to wait for your financials to show you that your customers are not happy? In an ideal world, you will be able to turn unhappy customers into fans before they stop supporting your business. What is the best way to do this? You ask them if they are happy or satisfied. It is as straightforward and old fashion as that! But asking is not a static questionnaire. A survey should be a dynamic and interactive exercise. One that is much more than box ticking, but something that leads to interpretation, rectifying action and/or creative solutions.
When you measure your customer’s satisfaction, you should look at the following key performance indicators (read more on surveymonkey.co.uk)
- Will customers refer your service or product? It boils down to the basic principle of word of mouth, even if today, it comes via TikTok.
- You should not only learn from customers who are unhappy. What is the reason for customers indicating that they are very satisfied? Find out and apply that to a wider customer base.
- A 100% satisfaction rate is the dream, but constantly complying with or over-delivering on customer expectations is not realistic. Rather ensure that your KPI for customer satisfaction is on the rise and that you are increasingly keeping customers satisfied. Compare surveys over time, interpret, identify the issues, make improvements. Be smart about it.
- Even when you’re considered to be the leader in your industry, benchmarking stays important.
- Manage expectations. What do customers expect from your brand? That is what you must comply with or deliver on. Do they expect express service? Then their satisfaction might not be influenced by comfortable chairs in your reception area – they really don’t want to spend time sitting there. Aligning your brand associations or attributes with consumer perceptions and expectations is essential. Carefully consider the tone, imagery and brand experiences you use to ensure well-managed customer expectations.
Satisfied customers do not only return, but they also become brand ambassadors. If you don’t know it yet, your business strategy should be customer focused. It really is all there is to it.