Almost 75% of people will switch brands if it's too difficult to do business with them. That's a big reason why U.S. companies lose over $60 million each year.
Now more than ever it's important to keep your customers satisfied.
Customer satisfaction (aka CSAT) is a marketing term that measures how a brand's products or services meet or exceed their customer's expectations. If you don't satisfy your customer's needs, your business won't survive.
Here are some proven methods for accelerating customer satisfaction. Follow these tips and you could create a customer for life.
Understand Your Target Market
It's impossible to please your customers if you don't know who they are, so develop personas or profiles of your ideal prospects or customers. This will give you a semi-fictional model representing your target customer. Think of it as an imaginary friend for your business. Then you can begin to understand their general information as well as their wants and needs. This crucial first step is key in creating a dedicated customer base.
Creating a Customer Persona
When creating a persona, consider your customer's demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more information you can get, the better. Here are some of the questions to consider asking:
- How old are you?
- Where do you live?
- What's the highest level of education you completed?
- What's your job title?
- What industry do you work in?
- Do you have a family?
- Where do you "hang out" online?
- What are your goals as a customer?
- What problems can we solve for you?
- What are your interests/hobbies?
Of course, you can customize this list by adding or subtracting questions that might be more suitable for your business. If you already have a database of customers, look through your contacts to discover trends. How are customers finding and consuming your content? Ask your sales team for information about the leads they're working with. Can they make any generalizations?
By answering these types of questions, you'll have a good understanding of who your customers are and what you can do for them.
Treat Every Customer Like a VIP
You've certainly heard of the Golden Rule—treat others as you want to be treated. Apply it to your pursuit of customer satisfaction. Think about how you, as a consumer, would like to do business with a brand. Then provide that experience for your own customers.
About 70% of U.S. consumers will spend more money to buy products or services from a company that provides great service.
If you've ever stayed at a Ritz-Carlton hotel, you likely know about their storied customer service exploits. As a Ritz-Carlton employee, you're authorized to spend up to $2,000 each day to improve a customer's experience. It doesn't matter whether you're the concierge or a maid, you're allowed to go that extra mile for your guests.
One such example made it into the book "What's the Secret? To Providing a World-Class Customer Experience" by John R. DiJulius. The author was staying at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, Florida when he became the recipient of one of the luxury hotel chain's acts of outstanding customer satisfaction. DiJulius left his laptop charger in his room. The next day—before he could even call to request that someone look for it—it arrived at his office via overnight air. Along with his charger, there was a handwritten note and a second, brand-new charger as well.
That kind of VIP treatment definitely doesn't go unappreciated. Even if your business doesn't have Ritz-Carlton's resources, there are plenty of other ways to treat your customers like VIPs. Keep the Golden Rule in mind and go the extra mile to make them happy.
The Under-Promise and Over-Deliver Theory
A popular customer satisfaction strategy is to under promise and over deliver. With this approach, you do more than you say you will for your customers, thus exceeding their expectations.
Here's an example. Let's say you tell a customer you'll get back to them with an answer. Ideally, you'll have the answer right away. When you can't provide immediate customer satisfaction, don't tell them you'll reply by noon and then reach out at 3 p.m. This puts your business in a bad light. You could say you'll get back with them before the end of the day. That way, 3 p.m. is considered a fair or over delivery on your promise.
Not everyone is in agreement with this philosophy. Some studies even reject the idea that customers will feel good about getting more than they bargained for. The best way to approach customer satisfaction is to stay true to your promises. Your customers aren't going to complain that you treated them too well. Do what you say you're going to do—then do a little more than that.
The key is in what you shouldn't do. Don't promise the moon if you can't deliver it.
Ask for Customer Feedback
Negative experiences with customers often come down to expectations that weren't met. They were anticipating something from you, but that didn't happen for one reason or another. To avoid this, ask them for their feedback.
Here's a quote from customer service guru Kristin Smaby:
“When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better.”
When you ask your customers for feedback, use open-ended questions. Listening to their evaluations, observations, and criticisms will not only improve your relationship with them but with future customers, too.
If you want to improve your customer feedback and reviews, here are a few quick tips:
- When you ask for a review, ask for feedback on a specific aspect of your business. This will give your customers something to write about. For example, a car dealership may ask specifically about their showroom or their customer satisfaction team's efforts.
- Make it easy for customers to leave feedback. Collect reviews at places your customers already visit, like Facebook and Google.
- Collect positive and negative feedback. You can learn from negative reviews, plus it makes your brand seem more authentic. No business is perfect. Just always be sure to provide a solution to each problem.
- Take a holistic approach to customer feedback. Sure, you can use the most popular online methods like Facebook and Google, but also consider text messaging, other social media platforms, written or in-person reviews at your business (if applicable), and more.
- Watch what consumers are saying about your competition. This will give you ideas on how you can improve your own business offerings.
- Personalize your feedback. It's especially helpful if the invite comes from the individual the customer dealt with. Don't send out bulk review requests. It comes across as impersonal.
Asking for customer feedback can greatly accelerate your customer's satisfaction. You're giving them a voice and asking how you can make their experience with your business better. The end result is a happier customer.
Monitor Social Media for Customer Comments
Whether you like it or not, people are talking about your business online. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, Google reviews, and more. Of course, you like when they say nice things, but what about those times when a negative comment appears? Rest assured, it's all in how you look at it.
Consumers are generally more likely to post about good experiences (53%) than poor ones (35%) on social media, but you should pay attention to both.
The first step is to know what people are saying.
Monitor your online reputation so you know what you're doing right. In turn, you'll also discover what you're doing wrong. Use that opportunity to make a personal connection with your customers. Address their concerns by offering to make things right by them. For each negative comment, reply with a solution. Don't ignore these bad reviews, though. Even if you only have one negative comment, it could be the one that turns people against doing business with you if you don't respond properly.
A Cornell University study showed that responding to negative hotel reviews actually helped those hotels. When they replied to negative comments, their TripAdvisor score increased.
Keep an eye on your social channels and respond to everyone. Even if it's as simple as liking a positive remark, it makes your customers feel like they're important to you. And let's face it. They are. Without them, you'd be out of business. So take the time to interact.
In their book "The Go Giver," authors Bob Burg and John David Mann wrote that with all things being equal, consumers will do business with people they "know, like, and trust." It's actually a formula known as KLT.
To become the type of business your customers know, love, and trust, you'll need to do some work. But your authenticity will go a long way toward accomplishing all three. Consumers are a pretty shrewd bunch. You're not likely to fool them with fancy marketing lingo or sales jargon.
Your customers will spot a phony when they see one, so don't go down that road. Communicate honestly and openly and help them understand your brand's mission as well as your product and/or service.
Marketing guru Neil Patel says authenticity is the key to growing your business. He created an authenticity checklist outlining the behaviors you should shoot for. Among those is to be responsive in an authentic and helpful manner. Be honest with your customers, even if it means providing an answer that's less than positive.
Hilton Hotels uses a dedicated Twitter monitoring technology to respond to the direct tweets they receive. This assures a prompt response to any complaints—and compliments. They're also proactive in searching for indirect remarks so they can address those, too.
Automate Part of Your Customer Support System
Are you taking the time to personally respond to every email you receive? That's a noble gesture, but think of all the time you'd save if you could automate some of those responses.
It's critical for your business to offer outstanding customer support. After all, poor service is the top reason brands lose customers. But it takes up lots of time—and resources. By automating some of your tasks, you can personally respond without lifting a finger. Let's look at an example: automated email responders.
Automated responses to email inquiries are a tremendous time saver—plus they provide an immediate reply to an anxious customer. Consider your own feelings when you make a purchase or pay a bill online. An immediate reply summarizing the details of the transaction puts your mind at ease. You won't have to ask yourself whether the payment went through or wonder "if they got it."
Email drip campaigns are also helpful in not only reassuring your customers, but also boost engagement and loyalty, promote relevant content, create an effective lead-nurturing marketing funnel, and increase your brand's awareness.
Send a Handwritten Note of Thanks
It's no wonder greeting cards are an $8-billion a year industry. People love receiving mail with a handwritten message inside. Apply this concept to your own business correspondence and prepare for positive results.
Consider this example. Donors Choose is a nonprofit organization that allows people to donate directly to public school classroom projects. They ran a test by sending handwritten thank-you notes to half of their first-time donors. The findings showed that 38% of those donors were more likely to give again than those who didn’t receive a handwritten note.
Donors Choose now includes handwritten thank-you notes as part of their business structure. The result? Donors increased their average yearly giving by $41. That amounts to over $3 million in additional annual donations.
Think of how handwritten notes can help your own business. When you apply this customer satisfaction method to your brand's correspondence, you're showing your customers how much you appreciate their business. It's a sincere, personal touch you can start using today. Contact us to find out how.