How Customer Enthusiasm Works
from “Meh…” to “Wow!”
Customer satisfaction—and its increase—has become an important element of corporate strategy for many companies and is measured in the form of key metrics such as NPS and CSAT. But are satisfied customers really enough? Could it be that customers are just as satisfied with the competition?
For this reason, customer satisfaction alone is often not enough—especially when there are lots of competitors. If you want to avoid a price war, there is only one other way to stand out from the competition: customer enthusiasm. In order to inspire your customers, the trick is not only to meet their expectations, but to exceed them.
The Difference between Customer Satisfaction and Customer Enthusiasm
First of all, you have to make it clear that both satisfaction and enthusiasm result from a direct experience with the company. In other words, it is a reaction to what a company does—or does not—offer. Customer satisfaction and enthusiasm are closely related to one another in the emotional range, but are fundamentally different: Whether consumers are enthusiastic or satisfied depends on the extent to which their expectations and requirements are served.
In order for customers to be satisfied, their basic requirements should be met. This means that the expectations and requirements that customers bring with them when they interact with the company are met as they imagined—no less, but also no more. Meeting the higher levels of requirements is the metaphorical cherry on top. Customer enthusiasm is, so to speak, a higher level of customer satisfaction.
Another difference is in the effect of customer enthusiasm vs. customer satisfaction in terms of customer retention. If a customer is enthusiastic about a product or service, they will most likely go straight to the same company when they buy again—without further consideration. The company has thus succeeded in building a relationship with the customer. However, if her experience was only “satisfactory”, she may look to other providers the next time she makes a purchase.
But what does a company have to implement for this? So-called expectation management forms the basis. It is about consciously managing customer expectations and then exceeding them. This positive element of surprise and unexpected surpassing of expectations then usually triggers customer enthusiasm.
Successful Expectation Management
Everyone has expectations, some of which are very conscious, and others more unconscious. Of course, consumers also have expectations that they place on products and companies. Companies even arouse some of these expectations themselves. A classic example is the following statement: “We will get in touch with you within 24 hours of your inquiry.” With this, the service provider makes it very clear that he will answer customers’ questions within a day. If the answer is then longer in coming, the company generates frustration among customers. This is often discharged in a negative comment from friends, on online in rating portals, and on social media.
Another example from everyday life: the water meter needs reading and the responsible service provider announces their arrival for a certain working day between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. You take half the day off work, sit at home and wait more or less patiently for the announced appearance in the specified period. If this employee does not stand on the mat by 3 p.m. without some kind of message, many customers react somewhat irritably. After all, you only rescheduled your own daily routine for this date. You may have taken time off, postponed other appointments, and thus incurred additional effort that was not profitable at all.
Here you should keep in mind what effect a statement that may have been made unconsciously can have on customers. Because they rely on such promises and may base their planning accordingly. If this promise cannot be kept, you should at least give feedback to the customer so that he does not remain completely in the dark.
The first example shows how it can be done better: A company claims to report back within 24 hours and actually responds after two hours. Many customers will be pleasantly surprised here because they may have expected a longer period of time.
As you can see, expectation management is a clever marketing tool if you are consciously aware of expectations and use them in order to exceed them. However, you should never stir up expectations that you may not be able to meet, because that has a negative impact on customer satisfaction. Therefore, the three recommendations for good expectation management are as follows:
- Never make promises that you cannot keep
- Only stir up conscious expectations
- Inform customers promptly of problems and take compensation measures depending on the situation
Marketing employees in particular sit on the lever of expectation management, because marketing communication plays an important role in shaping expectations on the customer side. Marketing strategies can be used in a targeted manner to influence customer expectations—but the entire company must be involved in their implementation. Employees in customer service in particular often play a decisive role.
Measures for More Customer Enthusiasm
The first step is taken: expectation management was worked out individually and the communication rolled out accordingly. But what other measures can you implement to increase customer enthusiasm?
We have already talked about the requirements from the customer’s point of view that a product or service should meet or, in the best case, exceed. The following three points show how this can be done:
To be able to implement this, you have to know your customers very well in order to be able to address them personally. This requires extensive data that all employees have access to, which is regularly updated and supplemented and from which personalized strategies can be derived. This requires targeted Customer Relationship Management (CRM), i.e. customer loyalty management. Experts such as Manfred Bruhn and Christian Homburg write about CRM in their manual: “The task of CRM is to optimize and integrate customer-related processes across all departments in a company. For this, a database with the appropriate software is required.”
An example would be to establish an appointment reminder for the customer based on this data as an additional service as soon as an out-of-stock product is available again. Likewise, a frequently purchased product that sells out quickly could be regularly advertised by email with special discounts for this buyer.
Customers want to feel that they and their opinion are valued. To do this, a company needs open communication, regular exchange with customers, and a perfectly developed strategy to receive and evaluate feedback. To this end, the needs of customers must be measured and evaluated on a regular basis. The next section shows how this can be implemented.
Measure and Understand Customer Needs
A company can only improve if it knows where its weak points are. To do this, it is necessary to address customers directly and find out whether and how satisfied they were with the company’s performance and where there is still room for improvement. This is exactly what the Net Promoter Score® is for, a measure of customer satisfaction. This can be determined by a simple question that reads as follows:
“How likely is it that you would recommend our company to friends or colleagues?”
Although one asks for the recommendation here, it is closely related to the emotional attitude of the customers. Because only if buyers are really enthusiastic about a product or service they have received will they recommend it to friends and acquaintances.
The answer is given on a scale from zero to ten. Therefore remember the Maxim: The higher the number, the higher the likelihood of a recommendation. On the basis of the given number of points, the respondents are divided into three groups: the detractors with zero to six, indifferent with seven to eight, and the promoters with nine to ten points. In addition, NPS offers the option of adding an empty field for customer comments, which conceals opportunities for optimization and new customer acquisition. In this article, you will find out exactly what the Net Promoter Score is and how it is used successfully.
New Customer Acquisition through Customer Enthusiasm
In marketing, customers were surveyed using the Net Promoter Score and the first answers are now being received. The evaluation is very quick thanks to the software program used for everything to do with the NPS. The first feedback from buyers has already been received. How do you deal with these individual comments?
On the one hand, you can use received criticism to optimize yourself. On the other hand, you can and should contact the critics directly to thank them and, if necessary, to apologize for the disappointing expectations. This is how you always manage to astonish critics and still surprise them positively. However, this procedure is so important and requires sensitivity that you should definitely read our articles about closing the feedback loop and dealing with detractors.
Furthermore, the positive hymns of praise can of course also be used. Positive reports from satisfied consumers are perfect for acquiring new customers. Experts state that many interested people research online for authentic reviews that give them purchase recommendations or even show them which products it is better not to buy. Customer ratings are therefore important factors in a purchase decision.
So if you get positive feedback, you can use it to spread authentic cross-media reviews from real customers. Of course, you always act in terms of data protection and with the consent of the customers. After all, you don’t want to offend a true fan with non-transparent behavior.
How Customers Gain Enthusiasm
With this information and tips, every business, from management level to marketing, can lay the foundations to inspire its customers in the future. Every company has the opportunity to delight with additional surprising added value.
This allows you to retain customers over the long term, generate more sales, and increase your own profits. It is worth trying out a lot of tips to see which measures are well received by customers. With the help of various instruments, marketing can create the perfect conditions and precisely analyze which individual services can convince their own buyers. It is helpful to let customers have their say and to evaluate their feedback efficiently. The aforementioned Net Promoter Score does exactly that and thus also helps in acquiring new customers. That is a good reason to give management a detailed plan on how to get customers excited. Because if a company is authentic itself, communicates openly, and is really interested in its customers, it is not that difficult to sustainably inspire the buyers. This is a real unique selling point in an otherwise oversaturated market.