The business strategists at McKinsey call it the “moment of truth” — they’re referring to that moment in any customer interaction that defines the customer experience. It can be as simple as seeking the answer to a question or as emotionally charged as responding to poor quality or a problem with a transaction.
According to Salesforce, 70% of the buying experience is based on the way customers feel they are being treated, which is why customer satisfaction is crucial.
This article will outline how the following strategies can help increase customer satisfaction, exceed their expectations, and create customer loyalty:
- Understand your customers and personalise
- Embrace omnichannel communication
- Never leave customers waiting
- Reward customer loyalty
- Track outcomes and double-down on what works
- Deliver on your promises and respond to criticism
Before we dive into these strategies and customer service trends in more detail, let’s address the basics.
What is customer satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction is the cumulative reflection of the way a customer feels about their experience with your brand, product, or service. It’s about whether the product or service meets or exceeds their expectations and the experience they’ve had during the buying process and with any post-sales support.
Why customer satisfaction is important
Unhappy customers create churn. They raise your customer acquisition costs. They may provide negative reviews that could hurt your efforts to attract others. Happy customers, on the other hand, are more likely to do business with you again and tell their friends and neighbours about their experience.
So, how do you improve customer satisfaction? It’s all about creating a culture within your organisation to consistently deliver superior customer service and support. But this is no easy task, so let’s break it down for you with six strategies that can help you raise the level of customer satisfaction with your business.
1. Understand your customers and personalise
The key to better serving your customers is to understand them. The better you know their likes, their dislikes, and the way they want to interact, the better job you’ll do. Understanding customer demographics and personality types can help you tailor interactions.
- 80% of customers report they are more likely to buy from a brand that personalises the customer experience.
- 91% of consumers say they’re more likely to spend with brands that provide personally relevant information.
If you nail this, it will help you grow your product/service portfolio in relevant ways. Understanding customer preferences will also help you pick the right customer service channels, which is key to delivering customer satisfaction.
2. Embrace omnichannel communication
In today’s always-on, always-connected world, customers have different ways they want to communicate. They expect you to be able to respond on the channel of their choice with a minimum amount of effort, and they expect a seamless and superior customer experience across all channels.
This means you need to make it easy for customers to switch between channels without having to start the conversation over — especially when it comes to customer service.
- Companies that deploy an omnichannel customer engagement strategy retain nearly three times the number of customers versus those that don’t.
- 86% of customers expect you to know their story when they switch from channel to channel.
Part of this strategy involves providing customers with the resources they need. This includes:
FAQ pages, tutorials, and other self-service resources improve customer satisfaction. More than 60% of consumers say they prefer to solve basic customer support using a self-serve model.
Live chat and chatbots
Live chat and chatbots are another important consideration. 73% of customers report that live chat is the most satisfying way to communicate with businesses. On the flip side, 77% of customers say they have stopped buying a product or service when there wasn’t real-time chat available at the moment of purchase.
Chatbots are an effective way to communicate with customers if you’re not staffed 24/7. Customer support chatbots can handle many situations, including lead enquiries and pre-qualifying customers.
Suggested reading: 5 ways to improve omnichannel customer experience
More customers than ever are reaching out over social media. You must be able to monitor and respond to enquiries quickly. Great customer service can lead to happy customers and positive word of mouth. Failing to respond quickly can go the opposite way — especially because many of the customers using social media will make their complaints public.
A seamless experience across channels
The ability to pick up a phone call, and not have to repeat anything communicated to a customer service agent via live chat, social media, or by email is important. Let customers choose how to engage, when to engage, and make that a seamless and frictionless process. This will lead to a better customer satisfaction score.
3. Never leave customers waiting
There’s a direct correlation between the level of customer satisfaction and the time it took to resolve their issue. That’s one reason why omnichannel communications are so important.
Customers hate it when they can’t get the information they want right away. It’s the number one consumer complaint. That’s why you must be able to dynamically scale customer service resources to match demand. It’s difficult for many companies to have those resources on standby just in case demand surges. Being able to handle customer concerns quickly plays a significant role in improving a brand’s net promoter score. It’s one reason why so many brands turn to outsourcing their support.
Download our eBook ‘A New Approach to Customer Service’ for more guidance on giving customers what they want through an agile customer service model >>
4. Reward loyalty
For most companies, one of their biggest costs is customer acquisition. Once you get them to purchase your product or service, you need to retain them. It’s not easy. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of companies say customer retention is their biggest obstacle. Yet, it’s the key to driving down customer acquisition costs and increasing margins.
Loyal customers are happy customers. They spend more and do so more often. Research shows that just a 5% increase in customer loyalty can increase the average per-customer profit by 25%-100%.
Having some form of reward programme in place to provide special incentives or offers is crucial to increasing customer loyalty. As is providing superior customer support that will ensure your customers come back to you time and time again.
5. Track outcomes and double-down on what works
Nothing is better than data about how your actual customers feel about your service and brand. It’s essential that you track outcomes and measure them. You need to be able to quantify customer satisfaction from a customer service perspective.
Here’s why that’s important: a study done by Bain & Company compared attitudes about customer service from CEOs of companies and their customers. Here were the results:
- 80% of CEOs believed their companies delivered superior customer experience.
- Only 8% of customers agreed.
That’s quite a gap! These companies thought they were doing just fine but their customers felt completely differently. That’s why it’s vital you survey your current customers and build an end-to-end customer service strategy to meet their needs.
6. Deliver on your promises and respond to criticism
Great customer support is essential but real customer satisfaction is about being a good brand. You must have quality products and/or services, honest advertising and marketing, and provide a great customer experience from start to finish.
Customer satisfaction is all about giving customers the outcome they desire.
When there is an issue, it’s important you handle any problems that arise professionally and promptly. Most people understand that problems will occur once in a while and they’re OK with it if you deal with it. In fact, many customers that get their problems solved will often turn out to be some of your most loyal customers going forward and act as brand ambassadors to create others.
Customers that get frustrated because you haven’t dealt with their concerns, or are unhappy with the outcome, can poison the well for you.
- Happy customers that get their issue resolved tell about 4-6 people about their experience.
- Unhappy customers tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience. 13% will tell more than 20 people!
These numbers highlight how your customer experience provides the outcomes your customers want, meaning any problems are resolved efficiently and promptly. You need to ensure your customer service strategy is capable of achieving that.
Improving customer service takes a proactive approach
Don’t think providing superior customer service is all about being reactionary either. More than 90% of unhappy customers don’t complain at all — they just leave. Taking a proactive approach to customer service, such as the steps above, will go a long way towards creating happy and loyal customers.
For a healthy business, it’s important to work with customer service partners that can deliver flexibility, quality, and expertise. Working with in-house teams, complementing or augmenting traditional call centre resources, or implementing a fully outsourced and distributed team — Odondo can help any business improve its customer support.
For more tips on creating loyal customers, check out our eBook — A New Approach to Customer Service.
Aamir is one of the Co-Founders at Odondo, where he obsesses over the details to deliver a strong and compelling proposition for each of his clients.
Prior to Odondo, he was CTO at one of the UK's largest price comparison websites, with contact centres in the UK and India. In his spare time, he loves reading, politics, tennis, and playing the piano (badly).