There are multiple factors that contribute to a successful business, but perhaps the most important is a high level of customer satisfaction. Interactions between the customer and your business either meet or fail to meet customer expectations, resulting in positive or negative experiences that can affect their overall satisfaction.
Our customer satisfaction guide walks you through the importance of customer satisfaction and some ways to improve your customers’ experience to the benefit of your business.
Importance of customer satisfaction
Your business needs happy customers in order to thrive – it’s as simple as that. But it goes beyond just providing a satisfactory experience for your customers. You need to do your best to make them repeat customers by providing an excellent experience.
Businesses don’t last long when they’re constantly acquiring new customers but aren’t doing anything to retain them. You need a solid, loyal customer base that loves your business and loves to keep coming back. This is essential not just to keep your business going, but for any long-term growth as well.
According to Bain & Company, a global management consultancy, repeat customers are more beneficial because:
- 82% of businesses state that customer retention is cheaper than acquisition
- On average, repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers
- Repeat customers refer an average of 3 people and bring in more business
- According to Small Business Trends, 85% of small businesses get customers through referrals
- Repeat customers are more willing to buy other products from your business
Producing a high level of customer satisfaction creates repeat customers that strengthen and grow your customer base and bring in more revenue.
Good vs. bad customer experiences
Meeting customer expectations in the four areas outlined below are essential for creating a positive customer experience and maintaining a high level of satisfaction:
- Quality products or services – The product or service does what it is expected to do for a defined or reasonable amount of time
- Fast or efficient response times – Customers receive acknowledgement of their questions or concerns immediately, and are given an answer as soon as possible
- Friendly or welcoming interactions with staff – Empathetic or friendly staff can make bad experiences more bearable, and make a good experience more memorable
- Effective troubleshooting – Problems are resolved effectively the first time around, rather than troubling the customer repeatedly with ineffective solutions
Failing to meet customer expectations in one or more of the four areas listed above can result in a bad experience and discourage customers from coming back. In the long run, failing to meet their expectations in any of these areas can be detrimental to future business growth.
Measuring customer satisfaction
You can learn a lot about your business and the best ways to succeed by taking your customers’ experience at your business into consideration. But how do you know when your customers are satisfied or dissatisfied?
From your satisfied customers, you can learn about what you are doing right, and from your unsatisfied customers, you can learn about what you need to improve. The key to learning these things though, is by getting feedback.
Feedback comes in many shapes and sizes, but two sources that business owners will find particularly helpful are surveys and reviews. Both have pros and cons, but both are able to provide some insight into what customers think about your business.
PRO: The most reliable way to get feedback directly from your customers, with multiple choice, satisfaction scales, and open-ended questions.
CON: Getting customers to answer surveys can be a bit of a hassle, as you need to convince them it’s worth their time, even if the survey only takes 2 minutes to complete.
PRO: Quantify your customers’ satisfaction with online numeric scores and see why they gave you the rating they did.
CON: Not as trustworthy as surveys, because anyone can fill out a review, whether they are a customer or not.
Both forms of feedback help you to estimate how many satisfied and unsatisfied customers you have. This information can then be used to improve the overall customer experience.
Improving your customer experience
No one is perfect, and that’s something that applies to businesses as well as people. There is always room to grow: more customers that could be patroning your business and more revenue opportunities, all of which can be accomplished by improving your customer experience.
Your customer experience can be improved with just a few simple steps:
- Asking for feedback – As discussed in the previous section, customer feedback can be collected via surveys or online reviews. But the key here is to use this feedback to gain insight into your business and learn your strengths and weaknesses.
- Educating customers – Make your business more approachable by explaining your products or services to your customers and showing them how to get the best use out of them. This also serves to build trust with your customers and further engage them.
- Actively providing solutions – Demonstrate the knowledge and expertise of your business by providing useful and relevant solutions to your customers’ problems. Answers should be provided as soon as possible to acknowledge your customers’ problems and show that you are actively trying to help them.
Taking these steps will not only help improve your customers’ experience, it will also show you what needs to be changed to improve their experience (remember the four qualities that can either make or break a good customer experience?).
Other ways to improve customer satisfaction
There are a few other cost-effective ways to improve the customer experience thanks to technological advancements. These technologies make it easier to engage with customers and get a better understanding of their expectations for your business. Take a look below to see if it might be a good fit for your business:
- Self-service kiosks – Growing in popularity in recent years, kiosks are being used by a lot of chain businesses and franchises. However, kiosks like the Aivah kiosk are available for small- to medium-sized businesses. Self-service kiosks allow customers to pay for their products or services quickly and efficiently, without assistance from an employee, reducing wait times greatly. Kiosks like Aivah also have customer databases that store contact information and purchase history, so that you can engage with customers by sending them promotions, marketing popular products, or sending them a feedback survey.
- Customer relationship management software – CRM software analyzes a customer’s history with the business to improve relationships with customers and increase sales. Businesses are able to build stronger relationships with their customers to boost both acquisition and retention, thereby increasing the business’s revenue. This software can also provide some insights into customer expectations and what stage they are at in the buying process.
- Online and mobile orders – Primarily for restaurants and some retail, setting up an online presence to accept orders, or creating a profile on an online or mobile order service (like Grubhub) directly addresses customers’ desires for speed and efficiency at your business. You can also market your business directly to customers through these services, and increase your sales volume.
While some of these options (self-service kiosks and CRM software) may seem costly at first, in the long run, they are more sustainable financially than if you were to hire more staff to assist with all of your customers.
Maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction is vital to both the day-to-day operations and long-term growth and success of your business. Maintaining quality products or services, fast response times, friendly staff, and effective troubleshooting will help you provide an excellent customer experience and turn first-time customers into repeat customers.