Customer satisfaction remains one of the most insightful metrics to measure a company’s ability to meet customer needs. Improvements in customer satisfaction will often lead to fewer unhappy customers, a boost in retention of profitable business, and stronger brand loyalty. Because service is an essential part of customer experience these days, it's as vital as ever to create differentiated offerings that take advantage of leading technology.
Nurturing long-term customer satisfaction involves learning how to transform customer feedback into actionable improvements. These changes can range from small adjustments to corporate-wide transformations. Recent industry data from McKinsey indicates that a 20-30 percent increase in customer satisfaction can be achieved by fundamentally shifting the focus of a company to a customer-first operational strategy.
No single change or solution will ever be enough, and it is always best to take a holistic approach when it comes to developing customer satisfaction improvement plans. Here are a few of the best ways to get started.
1. Develop Service and Product Communities
When you are designing support services for your company, you should always consider communities. A customer portal and knowledge base can give your customers direct access to your service offerings, which helps to reduce demands on your support team by providing information customers need to solve common challenges. Customer portals also support interaction between customers and your support staff. Creating customer groups and allowing customers to view and reply to tickets from other group members builds a sense of community and a shared space for collaborative, engaging communication.
Self-support offerings like customer portals, coupled with easy access to customer support staff, can strengthen your customer relationships when done effectively. Once you have a place for your community to gather, it's crucial to keep conversations active, by having your service team engage the group with ideas about future product features, new offerings, and questions about improving service.
2. Collect Quality Survey Data
To sustain high levels of customer satisfaction over time, you must continuously ask your customers for feedback. Instead of merely copying questions from online sources or previous surveys, it's always best to design a unique questionnaire aimed at a specific goal.
For example, you may be interested in understanding how new customers feel about an onboarding process after purchase. You should select questions that focus on this topic and obtain answers that you can easily compile for analysis. Valid survey questions should clearly identify gaps and help you create actionable steps to capitalize on these improvement opportunities.
3. Reduce Customer Response Times
Providing quality and timely responses to customer support requests is the hallmark of excellent service. Using a shared inbox can help your team review, assign, and complete requests in a streamlined and organized way. This centralized system helps reduce delays and provides an effective platform for resource allocation and team collaboration. Many companies also extend self-service options to their user base through a customer portal, which allows customers to get immediate answers to their questions.
4. Use Customer Feedback Proactively
Using the customer insights you collect to improve your products and services is a unique challenge. Conducting effective surveys, as mentioned above, is one great way to ensure that you have quality data to review. Another critical priority is to contact customers at multiple points throughout the customer journey. It's always best to have a holistic view of your customer experience. Never rely on any single metric or question to determine your course of action, and assess problems in depth before moving forward with improvement plans.
5. Make Responses Personalized and Timely
Whenever possible, avoid generic replies and try to include the customer’s name and a personalized message. This practice helps demonstrate that you genuinely value the customer and their business. You should also focus on relevant messages and develop an omnichannel communication strategy. Today, customers may contact you through several different channels. They also expect a direct reply – without having to repeat the same information and description of their problem that they provided through a different channel. It may not always be possible to respond everywhere, but you should make it convenient for customers to contact your company.
6. Set Measurable Customer Satisfaction Goals
Customer satisfaction is ultimately about meeting and exceeding expectations. When you review your organization’s goals, you should also assess other companies in your niche to see how you compare. Industry benchmarks are another useful resource that can highlight essential service or product offerings that you may never have considered. These efforts will help you understand the most effective ways to measure customer satisfaction for your unique situation. Using a diverse set of metrics that represent customer satisfaction (CSAT), retention, and other relevant areas will help you measure progress in a meaningful way.
Customer satisfaction is a complex challenge for companies, as customer needs and preferences can shift dramatically over time. By designing a consistent process for collecting and using customer feedback, you can learn how to improve your offerings in a way that will be recognized. Improving customer satisfaction can ultimately create more loyal customers, boost customer retention, and cultivate more consistent and reliable repeat business for your company.