Just imagine - you’ve fallen in love, your stomach’s full of butterflies and finally you’re sitting down with your paramour over a cup of coffee and are happily chatting about everything and anything under the sun. You laugh together, you're silent together, and you’re both having a wonderful time. The date goes really well and in the evening you say goodbye – by turning around wordlessly and leaving. No, no, no! It shouldn’t be like that at all! You should maintain and care for such a relationship long after the first evening is over.
What no-one would dream of doing with their partner is almost the norm for customers and companies. Consumers are courted and left alone after the first satisfactory contact. Anyone committed to customer satisfaction should take steps to avoid this horrific scenario. What you should be doing is making the customer and their wishes or expectations the focus, i.e. they are accompanied by the company throughout their customer journey. At important touchpoints, contact should even be intensified to make the customer experience even more positive. The goal, of course, is to encourage consumers to make further purchases and thereby increase sales.
Nowadays, everyone is talking about customer satisfaction. It is a hot topic not only in marketing departments, but also in sales, human resources and management. After all, customer satisfaction is not a term that can be approached with a blinkered view or from only one perspective. Quite the contrary, since it influences the whole business it should be looked at across all departments.
To see if you really comprehend customer satisfaction, just look at two points: customers and company employees. Although the term seems to be clearly aimed at customers, one should not exclude employees nor underestimate the effect they exert on customer satisfaction. Satisfaction is influenced not only by the different areas of employee responsibility, but also by the internal requirements or opportunities provided to employees in help satisfy customers as much as possible.
With regard to the next important point, the clientele, individualism in this area is usually seen as highly desirable. For example, content and subject matter on social networks such as Facebook or Instagram, should, if possible, be tailored to the personal needs of your customers. However, in terms of customer satisfaction, it is more advisable to look at the ‘average’ customer and not focus on extreme examples. After all, you can't please everyone. Therefore, it is important to know your target audience and to focus on their general wishes.
Why are these two points so important? Quite simply, this knowledge provides the basic information you need to deal with and increase customer satisfaction. If you still have some catching up to do here, you should look at satisfaction of customers in detail and take a look at important keywords such as customer loyalty and customer centering.
The following text details the next steps forward, looking at the influence of employees and the prerequisites they need to increase customer satisfaction.
Business focuses on customer satisfaction. This means that the fulfillment of customer expectations and wishes should take top priority in the company's internal guidelines. Sounds good, but who would have thought that customer satisfaction needs support not only by management level and marketing, but also by every single employee? To implement this, employees must know, understand and internalize customer satisfaction from the company's point of view.
This is vitally important because customer contact comes from all staff, not just (but especially) in service and sales. For example, In marketing and complaint management, employees communicate day in and day out directly with customers. They must be trained to ensure that the contact which takes place is in the interests of the company as well as the interests of the customer. This is the only way to achieve the goal of increasing customer satisfaction.
To illustrate this, the following table shows how tasks in customer service are directly related to and depend on the companies personnel and internal requirements:
|EmployeeTasks||Prerequisite Personnel||Prerequisite Company|
|Offering customer advice via different channels||
Know about the products
|Be professionally competent|
|Act in solution-oriented manner|
Provide short response timing
|Keep technology up-to-date, Don't overwhelm staff with tasks|
|Provide policies for contact with negative customers, Motivate employees|
|Responding to the individual needs
of the customer
|Act in a solution-oriented manner,
and remain friendly
|Collect, update, and network data, then make it available to all employees, Motivate and, if necessary, relieve the burden on the staff|
In order to further optimize customer satisfaction, it is essential to train, support and motivate staff accordingly. But beware: even when your customer is the center of focus, no employee should be allowed to suffer. Nowadays, there are plenty of customers who are out for conflict and show verbally aggressive behavior.
It is therefore important to motivate employees, but also allow them to draw a clear line. It is important to communicate internally when the customer is no longer king, but instead removed from the customer database due to negative behavior such as verbal attacks, insults, threats and the like. This ensures the loyalty of your employees, who rely on their company to protect them and who continue to be in contact with customers to provide them with exceptional service.
Customer Satisfaction relies on several factors being provided by the company to ensure that customer expectations are met, or even better, exceeded. These are divided into the basic characteristics of a company and product that a customer simply expects as standard, and measures that go above and beyond. As with any sensible examination, we start with the basics.
Before trying to improve customer satisfaction, it has to be there in the first place, i.e. the expectations and wishes of a customer must be fulfilled. These are based on the minimum standards that a customer expects from today’s merchants. These basic characteristics include the following six factors:
Is the business credible? Does it follow internal guidelines, and does it represent their values both internally and externally? Is there dissonance between word and deed? These questions can be used to test one's own credibility and, hopefully, to determine whether one does not only appear authentic, but actually is. Consumers expect authenticity in companies, brands and products as well as services. This is simply one of the most important features associated with a high-quality company. One cannot call oneself sustainable and then allow entire forests to be cut down for one's own paper files.
The be-all and end-all of any relationship is kindness, empathy and humanity. Buyers want to feel listened-to, collect positive experiences and be treated kindly. This only works if the company reacts friendly and empathetically in every way. You must never forget that buyers are people and want their emotions addressed. Customers don't forge a relationship with someone they don't find sympathetic or friendly.
A prospective customer sends an e-mail asking questions about a product he wants to buy and only gets a reply after two long days of waiting. Anyone who thinks that the customer will wait that long will be disappointed: today’s customers expect immediate feedback and are rarely willing to wait a long time. In everyday work, the rule of thumb should be to reply to e-mails within 24 hours, and this should also be observed in customer contact. If you can't answer the question directly, you should still write an answer. It should convey that the request has been received and that it will be processed immediately. If you can specify a time window for editing, you should do so. Then the customer knows that you are making an effort and will answer their question as soon as possible - making them feel taken seriously and valued.
On the train you quickly want to check something in an online shop, but despite a perfect internet connection, the site loads very slowly because of the many pictures. In frustration, the customer clicks on the competition's page and orders there instead. On the web, speed is fundamental to corporate success and revenue. The website must load quickly, images should be displayed and no matter which device the customer is surfing on, the platform must be intuitive and clearly designed. To do this, you have to make your site follow the most modern technical standards and regularly update it to deliver the best customer experience on all channels. This also includes using appealing design, readable texts, a clear structure, simple menus and a clear summary highlighting all relevant information at one easily-accessible point.
Almost all companies collect important customer data and information in order to increase customer comfort, in accordance with the current legal situation and only with customer consent. In order to make good use of such data, it must be regularly updated, sensibly networked and stored in a central location. All employees must have access to it in order to have the important information about all your customers at hand. Every new piece of information must be stored immediately so that the customer can always be perfectly looked after.
Once this foundation stone has been implemented throughout the company, one can build on the concept, using targeted strategies to exceed customer expectations. The following tips show what these strategies can look like.
The foundation stone has been laid, and expectations fulfilled. Very good! But there is no reason to let the champagne corks pop. Fulfilled expectations do not necessarily improve customer satisfaction. This can only be achieved if you exceed expectations and create a wow effect for the buyer.
But you don't have to conjure a rabbit out of a hat to exceed customer expectations. Nevertheless, companies should give serious thought as to how they wish to satisfy demanding customers in 2020. The bad news: there is no universal recipe, only individual approaches. The good news: these individual approaches are known to every company. Those who manage to listen to their customers will be rewarded with vital clues. Where is there potential for improvement? Where are the unfulfilled wishes? What is required to impress the customer long-term?
Does that sound too complicated? Then let's summarize it with the following tips. To exceed consumers and their expectations, you should do the following:
Customers like to tell you what they like and what they don't. Therefore, every company should value feedback and actively seek it out. Micro-surveys, which make it easy and quick to query the most important points, are also available. In addition, the reviews can be used to win customers, because customers rely on credible recommendations in their purchasing decisions.
Leveraging feedback for optimization
The customer's feedback arrives, an employee reads it and puts it aside. That would indeed be a huge mistake, because getting the feedback is only the first step. The next necessary step is to actively use the feedback for optimization. Many customers give valuable tips on where to optimize the product, the service or the brand and the company. Therefore, it is important to analyze and evaluate any feedback. If you do so, the results can be actively integrated into the optimization process.
Repeat this process regularly
It is not enough to ask customers once and then assume that they will have no new wishes. Expectations change very quickly and with them the demands that consumers place on their business. Therefore, you have to collect the feedback at regular intervals and make sure that these surveys are always up-to-date, easy and fast to process. They also have an impact on customer satisfaction. When customers realize that their desires are actively improving, they feel taken seriously. This in turn strengthens customer satisfaction and loyalty to the company.
The customer responds regularly to feedback emails and the company uses them for internal improvement processes. This is great and more than a reason to thank the customer. After all, he has actively co-operated and invested his precious time and energy for your company. You should therefore integrate a thank you directly with the feedback, for example a voucher, discount code or an invitation to a great event. Creativity and knowledge of what exactly the customer might like is required here.
With these tips, it is possible to provide the customer with all-round care, to convey to him how important he and his opinions are for the company, and thus to bind him to your organization. Because all of this increases customer satisfaction.
In order to increase customer satisfaction, you need customer feedback. This sounds quite simple at first, after all, you could send a personalized e-mail with questions and then of course add a thank you.
So far, so simple. But the problems begin when the first answers arrive. They must be collected, sorted and manually evaluated. In addition, their continued use must be coordinated and much more. At this point, it is clear that feedback must also be handled professionally in order to fully exploit its potential. But even in advance, some mistakes can creep in. If, for example, the questions are not formulated precisely enough, you may not get the answers you had hoped for.
But help is on hand: There are suitable programs and key figures for this purpose, with which data can be effectively collected and then evaluated. Zenloop makes this process easier using the Net Promoter Score® (NPS®). All you need is a question about the customer's likelihood of recommending you and a field for comments. All this is then fed through software evaluation. The feedback can be further used, for example, in online portals, in order to publicly use good and authentic feedback for customer acquisition and marketing. Software is therefore ideal for collecting, analyzing, evaluating and using feedback in the company's further interest.
In order to continuously improve customer satisfaction, a well-thought-out foundation is needed on which individual strategies and competences can be built. This entire construct must be understood and implemented holistically both in the company and by every employee, from management level to marketing, sales, human resources department and down to the intern. Keeping an eye on customers with their expectations and wishes is not a temporary trend, but the decisive factor in the long-term winning of customers over from the competition.
Since customer satisfaction with all its sub-areas is a comprehensive topic, we deal with it in individual articles to present all its facets in detail. You don't have to read the articles in any particular order, but you can choose the parts that are of interest for your own business: