Behind every great company is a community of loyal customers. Customers who trust you, who are committed to your products or services, and who are dedicated advocates of your brand.
A community of satisfied customers.
In a time where consumers have virtually unlimited choice, acquiring, converting, and retaining customers is no easy feat. To compete and win customers over, brands need to consider how they deliver on customer satisfaction and make meaningful investments into strategies and efforts that nurture customer loyalty.
Recap: What is customer satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction is the measure of how happy your customers are with your products, services, and overall experience with your brand.
It reflects customer’s perception of your company and largely dictates whether a customer will make repeat purchases and develop loyalty to your brand.
With 70% of the consumer journey dependent on how they are treated, improving customer satisfaction is a key success metric for brands looking to retain and grow their customer base and maximise revenue.
Customer Satisfaction vs. Customer Experience
Although seemingly interchangeable, customer satisfaction and the customer experience are two very different, yet equally important, facets for building brand loyalty and trust.
Customer satisfaction is the relative happiness of a customer after doing business with you.
It is made up of their perception of the quality of service they received, their enjoyment of the product or service they purchased, the ease of their transaction, etc.,
The customer experience is much more emotional and intuitive than satisfaction. It is the feeling a customer leaves with after engaging with your brand. Typically, the customer experience is determined by how they were treated, the flow of their experience, and their desire to make a repeat purchase.
What are the 3 C’s of customer satisfaction?
A study conducted by McKinsey revealed that consistency is the most important attribute for building customer satisfaction. Specifically, consistency across the customer journey, the emotional experience, and the received communication.
Customer Journey Consistency
A customer will engage with many departments and employees as they make their way through one of your customer journeys. Ensuring a consistent experience across each of these engagements is critical for consumer satisfaction as it allows you to meet customer expectations, build trust, and gain loyalty.
Not only will a consistent experience drive satisfaction, but it can also benefit your bottom line by increasing revenue up to 15%!
In most industries examined by McKinsey, sentiments of trust created by a positive emotional experience were the largest driver of satisfaction.
Every time a customer engages with your brand, they should leave the interaction feeling happy, positive, and ultimately satisfied. Ensuring this emotional response is achieved every single time will help you build trust among your customers and ensure they keep coming back.
Every brand makes a promise to its customers. How you deliver on this promise plays a large role in building trust, but so does the way you communicate your promise.
Your marketing communication should display consistency through its tone of voice, tense, and language used. It should also show consistency by continuously reiterating your promise to customers and how you’re delivering on it.
In reaffirming your promise and your actions taken, you can highlight to consumers the consistency of your behaviours while also creating a unified messaging approach.
An important thing to remember with consistency is that it is the sum of the experiences that matters most to consumers. While individual experiences are important, one bad interaction will not topple satisfaction. Focus your efforts on delivering a consistent cumulative experience to optimise your time and generate powerful results.
Why is customer satisfaction important?
Customer satisfaction is critical for brand health as it can influence the performance and success of all areas of your business. Some of the most important benefits of strong customer satisfaction include:
1. Improves Customer Life-Time Value
Loyal customers are worth up to 10x the amount of their first purchase. If you can retain your customers through strong customer satisfaction, this value can be easily realised. You can constantly re-sell and up-sell to your existing customer base.
Not only does catering to existing customers improve their lifetime value, but it also helps you develop a community of clients who love your product and service offerings and are more than happy to stick with you.
2. Minimises Churn
Churn rate represents the percentage of repeat customers who no longer purchase from your brand. Churn often occurs due to poor customer service, with customers 4x more likely to switch to a competitor if they received poor service.
Strong customer satisfaction will minimise churn rate as customers have no reason to leave when they are pleased with your brand. This retention keeps customers loyal and keeps their wallets away from your competitors.
3. Strengthens Your Brand
With access to hundreds of brands and a myriad of different products, satisfaction is often the differentiator for consumers when choosing between brands.
Consumers feel comfort in knowing that each time they interact with your brand, they can expect the same level of quality, service, and attention. It is these facets that keep consumers coming back and encourage them to advocate for your brand with their social circles.
4. Maximises Referrals & WOM Advertising
When a customer is satisfied with a brand, they are more likely to share about their experience on social media and with their friends and family. This positive promotion is free advertising for your company and is an invaluable asset for attracting new customers.
According to a McKinsey report, word of mouth can generate more than double the sales of paid ads, as consumers are more likely to trust recommendations from someone they know.
Strong customer satisfaction will help you develop a community of brand advocates who will help support and grow your brand through referrals and free advertising.
5. Improves Financial Performance
Happy customers buy more. After a positive customer service experience, customers are 89% more likely to make a repeat purchase. Generating brand loyalty and repeat sales through high customer satisfaction will allow you to increase the average spend of each customer to grow your revenue.
It is also important to consider that attracting a new customer is usually 5-25x more expensive than retaining an existing one. Using high customer satisfaction to increase average spend while minimising new customer acquisition costs will benefit both your revenue and your profit margins.
How to measure customer satisfaction
There are many ways you can measure customer satisfaction, from Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to Customer Effort Scores (CES). We recommend using the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) to get the most accurate evaluation of your ability to meet customers’ needs and expectations.
CSAT is a list of customised survey questions that measure the success of a customer’s interaction with your brand. These survey questions should be shared with customers after each touchpoint.
The most successful surveys only contain a few questions to increase the likelihood of completion. These questions should be tailored to capture the most important feature of a customer’s recent interaction with your brand. Their responses will allow you to better understand customer expectations for each touchpoint and your brand’s success in meeting these expectations.
To learn more about CSAT scores, visit our dedicated blog post for insights and action items.
How to improve customer satisfaction
Improving your customer satisfaction score is not something done just once. Improvements should be made continuously as new opportunities and pain points reveal themselves.
To help get you started, here are some actionable steps you can take towards improving your score.
15 actionable steps to improve your customer satisfaction score
1. Collect & Analyse Customer Feedback
You can only improve customer satisfaction when you understand customer pain points and frustrations. Conducting regular surveys through social media, e-mail campaigns, and in-store purchases will allow you to open a discourse with your client base and get first hand feedback.
These surveys will provide valuable insights that tell you where to focus your time and improvement efforts so you can maximise your return on investment and provide customers with what they really want.
2. Map the Customer Journey
There are many different customer journeys a client can go through as they engage with your brand. Understanding what these journeys are and how each stage of the journey contributes to customer satisfaction is necessary before you make any improvements.
Once you understand how customers engage with your brand, you can pinpoint the stages that hold the most influence on creating satisfaction and focus your efforts there.
3. Support Customers at Every Step of the Journey
Once you understand the customer journey and address any major issues or opportunities, begin improving the smaller touchpoints and experiences. The goal is to create a consistent cumulative experience, and the same quality of care and service should be delivered at each step. Begin by finding quick wins for every step of the journey and move towards larger improvement investments if required.
4. Make Employee Experience a Priority
Satisfied employees often create satisfied customers. A recent study revealed a strong relationship between customer and employee satisfaction, as happy employees are more likely to deliver superior service to their customers.
Develop a culture of respect and value that empowers your employees. Listen to employee feedback and implement improvements to both customer and employee journeys to increase satisfaction across your organisation.
5. Regularly Track & Measure Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction will never be a constant. As new customers begin to engage with your brand and returning customers have new experiences, satisfaction will constantly fluctuate and evolve.
Establish a procedure for continuous customer feedback so you can always stay on top of new areas of opportunity and any areas of concern.
6. Stay on Top of Negative Reviews & Complaints
No matter how much time or effort we spend on improving customer satisfaction, negative reviews and complaints will always occur. As we mentioned before, customer satisfaction is about the cumulative experience, and poor individual experiences may happen from time to time.
Although it is best to avoid negative experiences as much as possible, negative reviews and complaints can be an invaluable source of feedback. The customer is letting you know what their expectations are and where your opportunity is to improve. This is an actionable insight that can help you improve overall satisfaction for many customers.
When you receive a negative review or complaint, it is important to keep track of this feedback and reach out to the customer who had a poor experience. Let this customer know you are doing what you can to fix their issue and keep them updated on your progress.
7. Make Necessary Product or Service Improvements
Survey results may reveal that aspects of your product or service are decreasing customer satisfaction. If your offerings are not meeting expectations, customers may look towards your competitors and lose some brand loyalty.
Use customer feedback to make any required product or service improvements so you can meet customer expectations and create an environment of trust.
8. Empower Customers to Support Themselves
One of the easiest ways to improve customer satisfaction is by providing customers with access to self-help resources.
When an issue arises, customers want resolution quickly and effectively. If helpful documents are accessible on your website, customers can solve their issues and educate themselves. This will speed up resolution time and lead to happier experiences.
9. Minimise Wait Times
A contributor to poor customer satisfaction is long wait times. Customers lead busy lives, and they do not want to waste their time waiting in line or waiting to speak with an agent.
Understand your customer journey and collect data on peak busy times so you can staff accordingly and ensure customers go through their journeys as quickly as they like.
10. Understand Expectations
Customer feedback is a great way to understand expectations. So is undertaking a competitive audit.
Look at your competitors to see how they are meeting expectations and creating customer satisfaction to find areas of improvement or differentiation. Customers may have different expectations for different brands, if you can outmatch or outperform your competitors, customers are more likely to remain loyal to your brand.
11. Take a Personal Approach
Implementing personalised touches to your customer journey can go a long way in improving customer satisfaction. Something as simple as using a customer’s first name in an e-mail campaign can create a notion of goodwill and trust.
Use data and customer insights to show your customers how much you care with personalised details and attention.
12. Empower Staff to Improve CX
Employees that act and can stop potential negative experiences in their track are invaluable to improving customer satisfaction. Although your company likely has operating manuals and process documents for many situations, unique instances will always arise.
Empower your staff to use their best judgment in handling these situations so they can address issues immediately and resolve any potential dissatisfaction.
13. Use Technology to your Advantage
Features like chatbots and live chats can be a great way to improve customer satisfaction. Delivering immediate responses and alleviating the workload for your staff helps to improve process flows and resolve issues or concerns quickly.
Consider implementing automated technology into your website to better serve customers and increase satisfaction.
14. Share Results Across Your Company
Customer satisfaction applies to every department of your business. Ensure feedback is shared with all relevant parties so departments can make improvements and process changes to improve satisfaction.
Ideas can also come from anywhere, and departments may have suggestions that can benefit the organisation. Discuss feedback and brainstorm in larger groups to facilitate knowledge transfer and create solutions as a unified team.
15. Don’t Wait For Tomorrow!
Start now to boost customer satisfaction levels. You’ll reduce the number of unhappy customers and supercharge your marketing efforts by making improvements as soon as you can. Pinpoint some quick wins and address them quickly and efficiently before moving on to the larger improvements and investments.
Customer opinions are formed daily, the sooner you can increase their satisfaction, the more likely they are to stay with your brand, develop loyalty, and make repeat purchases.
In 2021, customer satisfaction is one of the most important differentiators for brands looking to cut through the noise. Developing strong processes and strategies around gathering customer feedback and implementing process improvements is critical to help brands stand out.
Put customer satisfaction front and centre and create a community of loyal customers eager to help your brand succeed.