We all know that unsatisfied customers cost money. Research has shown that about 80% of customers will go to a different company after just one bad experience, especially if it’s about the service they receive. This is why it’s so important to measure customer satisfaction to find out exactly what your customers think of you, your company, your products or services, and the kind of customer service they receive.
It’s a fairly simple thing to do, but the first hurdle for any business, big or small, is actually admitting that you have a problem, or that there is room for improvement.
Measuring customer satisfaction simply boils down to collecting feedback from your customers, either via a survey or using customer data…preferably both!
Why should you measure customer satisfaction?
I’ve already mentioned one reason – customer dissatisfaction.
If a customer is not happy they will not buy from you again. They will find take their business elsewhere and you will see a rise in complaints.
If you were measuring satisfaction, you would identify any problems early enough to be able to do something about it, and save your customer before they defect to another company.
It’s much easier to retain your existing customers rather than go through all the marketing and hard work to acquire new ones.
If a customer buys from you regularly, they bring much more value to your business. A happy customer is more likely to remain loyal to you and your brand.
Measurement helps you keep your customers happy, so they’re more likely to stick with your business, buy more and recommend you to family and friends.
Negative comments can damage your brand
A bad customer experience will most likely be shared with family and friends. An unhappy customer is also likely to share their bad experience on social media sites. This can give your business a bad reputation.
Best-selling author and sought after celebrity speaker, Catherine DeVrye, is a world authority on customer service. She also won Australian Woman of the Year. She once said, “It takes years to win a customer and only seconds to lose one.” This one statement resonates with me more than any other I’ve read. I want my customers to be loyal, and loyalty, like trust, has to be earned – you can’t buy it.
I get my computer protection software from a big, well-known company and stay with them because it’s easy to deal with them. Their product is good and does what it says on the tin and they have a good reputation. But it has started to annoy me that this company spend thousands on expensive advertising campaigns, with rousing music, great copy and a fabulous enticing offer for new customers. But, hang on a minute, I’ve been a loyal customer for countless years and the amount I pay goes up substantially every year. Sometimes I think they take it for granted that I’ll just renew my subscription every year and pay whatever they say without any questions. Should I stay loyal to them when I get a new computer? They don’t make me feel valued as a customer. Apart from sending me emails about new and enhanced features that will ultimately cost me more, I don’t hear from them. There is no incentive for me to stay with them…would it really hurt for them to say, “you’ve been a great customer for more than 10 years – we’d like to reward your loyalty with XXXXXX” It doesn’t necessarily matter what I’m offered – it could be 10% off for a year. It could be that they offer me, as a valued customer, the new features to try out for free for the first year and no increase in my annual subscription. Now that would impress me. It doesn’t take much.
With this in mind, I’m so careful never to take my customers for granted or to forget about them. At the end of the day, they are my ‘bread and butter.’
Enhance that all important customer experience
By measuring what your customers think of your products or services, you are giving them the chance to have their say. This will help you improve your relationship with that customer and could produce ideas on how to improve the customer service you currently offer. Your customers could come up with the solution to a problem you’ve been having, especially if you ask the question, “How can we improve on the service you receive from us?”
If you’re measuring customer satisfaction on a regular basis, you will be able to see the spikes in either direction. The measurement might reveal that customers are very happy with the service they get…in which case you know that you’re heading in the right direction.
Once you are measuring what you do, the results will form the basis of your strategy – how are you going to improve so the scores are better the next time you do it?
So, when doing your marketing plan/strategy, always include a measurement section, which details solid measurable objectives and KPIs, (key performance indicators). If you’ve ever worked for a big company, you’ll have heard of KPIs as they form part of your annual performance review!
OK, I have talked about measuring customer satisfaction (CSAT), but how do you measure it?
CSAT is a key performance indicator (KPI) that tracks how satisfied your customers are with your products or services…or both.
It is measured by customer feedback surveys that you send out. Usually it is a question at the end of a survey which will say something like…
‘How would you rate your overall satisfaction of the (service or products) you have received?’
Your customers are asked to reply by ticking the box of one of five answers…
- Very unsatisfied
- Very satisfied
The results you get from all your customers can give you an average score…best done as percentages. For example if you surveyed 100 customers and 85 said they were satisfied or very satisfied, you would have an 85% total customer satisfaction rate, with 15% customer dissatisfaction.
The next step would then be to look at the 15 customers’ feedback, who rated you as giving dissatisfaction to try and identify why. This could be answered in other questions you’ve asked. If you can’t identify the reasons, it would be worth contacting those customers to find out what you can do to improve. This gives you a chance to turn the feedback around to positive for next time. The important thing is NOT to ignore it.
You can use a survey to ask very specific questions, such as ‘How do you rate the service you receive by telephone?’ or ‘How likely is it that you will recommend our business to your family and friends?’
The only downside of CSAT is that it only measures how your customers are feeling here and now, at the time they complete the survey. They might be having a bad day or have been trying to get hold of you and haven’t yet had a reply, which could provoke a negative answer.
Before you jump in and send out a survey, define what you want to achieve.
- What do you want to measure?
- How are you going to send it out? By post, email, telephone or via social networks?
- How often do you want to send a survey – once you send one, you’ll need to send more in the future so you can compare results. Once a year is good as you don’t want to bombard your customers with questions.
- What questions do you want to ask? It’s good to have a range of questions – some that have multiple choice answers and some that are free text. For example, you might want to ask ‘How can the service we provide be improved?’ This would need a text box so the response can be written by the customer and they can write as little or as much as they want to.
- Questions need to be clear, concise and straight forward and be easy to understand.
Conduct an interview on the telephone
This is a more costly way to get feedback, but it definitely has its benefits. For example, if you are launching a new product and have several long-standing and loyal customers, it would be a good idea to get their opinion. This not only makes them feel very valued as a customer, but also that their opinion matters to you and that you listen to them.
Obviously you couldn’t really do this with a big survey to all your customers – you could have thousands – so it would not be cost effective nor a good use of your time.
There are loads of analytic tools out that that can help you with looking at engagement on your social media channels. These will, to a certain extent, give you details of your customers’ behaviour; how they interact with your brand; how often they buy from you and if they are a repeat buyer of a particular product.
The analytics will also tell you what kind of posts your customers like, what time of day they are online and what day of the week is most popular for your posts. This helps you decide what and when to post.
Regarding social media, it’s always useful to listen to your customers and reply promptly to any questions or comments on your posts.
Live Chat and Social Media
Most social media sites have the facility to have a ‘live’ chat with someone, so you could utilise this to talk to customers online. Messenger is another way to speak to them, but be careful not to bombard their inbox with meaningless messages.
The good thing about using social media channels for engagement and chat is that it is a free service!
You may also have live chat software and can use that to interact with your customers. Again, be aware not to be a nuisance!
Email is perfect for engaging with your customers and for collecting feedback. If you send out a regular newsletter via email, you could always embed a survey in that communication. Or, you could send an email to your subscribers just about your annual survey.
Texting is another great option for getting feedback. It’s cheap to send messages in bulk and gets a survey direct to your customers’ phone.
Customer Experience Factors
Whether you decide to send out a survey, text, message, telephone or email, there are some things you will always come across, which are absolutely crucial to the customer experience…
What you charge for a product or service will hugely impact whether a customer will be satisfied or dissatisfied, depending on the customer. If you charge for something you don’t or can’t deliver, they will go elsewhere and will be dissatisfied with the service they’ve received. I’m not saying make sure your prices are low, no indeed not! A product or service is worth what a customer is willing to pay for it. You don’t want to be really cheap as they will question the quality of the product or service you offer. But at the same time, you don’t want to be so expensive that you price yourself out of the market.
Offer easy access to support 24/7
Customers like to have access to your products/services and know that they can contact you 24/7. Don’t just have a phone number with office hours (9-5, Monday-Friday). If you have a website, you can put an email address. Even if you’re not immediately available, at least they can ask questions at the time they want to.
Offer messenger support on social media channels, so they can message you if it’s an emergency. Most of us are online every day, even at weekends and, although it can be a pain on your day off, if you do answer any urgent queries via messenger…or agree to call the customer, you will gain more loyalty and respect.
Educational content and training
If your products or services require the customer to learn something, make sure that there is support in place as everyone learns differently. It might be that you have a blog and post about how to use certain products or a certain service you offer.
Make sure that products or services that need training or support are covered. Include instructions with the product, give them a link to your YouTube channel where it is explained in detail, or give them a link to a Facebook group where you talk about your products or services in detail through discussions or forums.
Email all these support structures to your customers, as well as putting them in with products/services when they buy them. That way, they know they can save emails for use at a later date and don’t have to worry about losing paper copies of instructions.
Build a community on social media
Start your own social media group to support your customers with the products/services they buy from you. Communities serve several purposes…
- Customers can talk and discuss your products/services with each other and give tips that they’ve found through experience
- Customers can ask you questions
- You can set up a regular forum, where you are there, ‘live’ to answer questions
- You can advertise your new products or services
- You can host networking events online
- You can host training sessions, which can be ‘live’ or recorded with a link to the recording for your customers
Cancelling contracts or subscriptions
Make it easy for your customers to change, or cancel a contract or subscription they have with your business.
It needs to be clear and concise and easily accessible. This might seem a bit odd, as you want to keep your customers, right? But if something you sell is not the right fit for your customer, they need to know that they can easily get out of it. If you don’t do this, you could risk damage to your reputation and your brand if the customer bad-mouths you and your business.
Customer incentive scheme
You will have customers who absolutely love your products/services and who come back to you time and time again. What better way to reward them and show you value their custom, than you have a customer incentive scheme or loyalty programme. Incentives can come in all shapes and forms – it’s up to you what you choose to do.
If you run a coffee shop or café, you could give a card that gets stamped every time they buy a coffee. After buying 10 coffees and collecting 10 stamps on their card, they get a free coffee.
If you have a customer who has bought a website design from you, you could tell them that you’ll add a blog to their site for free.
These are just a couple of examples – the sky’s the limit really!
Whichever way you look at it, customer service and the experience they get when dealing with you and your business is crucial to your business’s success. So, be prepared and put in place measures that help you keep track of what your customers are buying and why. And of course, always ask for feedback! And you’ll be having your customers jumping for joy!