Customer satisfaction management isn’t really about managing customer satisfaction in traditional ways – sending out customer surveys, mulling over the results, possibly taking action, or possibly scratching your head, not quite knowing what actions to take as a result of the feedback you’ve received, and then filing your score away, hoping for a higher score next time.
Instead, it’s about deliberately crafting an experience that seamlessly and proactively delivers customer service satisfaction. Not every one of the recommendations below will be feasible for every business, but I want you to really put your thinking cap on for how to apply them before you discard any of them.
Top 10 Tips for Customer Satisfaction Management
- Have a real person answer the phone instead of leaving them in a maze of automated responses, and you’ll increase brand loyalty by being different. If Apple can do it, so can you. It doesn’t happen every time I call for support… sometimes there’s a short automated process. But every time a real person answers on the first or second ring, it’s a WOW just because it’s so uncommon. WOWs keep customers coming back. There’s no WOW when you’re on the receiving end of “your call is important to us… we are currently experiencing higher than normal call volumes…” or when there’s no option to reach a real person and the automated attendant simply keeps saying “sorry you’re having trouble. Let’s try that again”. Play customer for a day. Call your company. See what you experience. Then take action on customer satisfaction management by getting people to a real voice faster than now, or better still, immediately. Yes, I know there are economic realities and some really darn good reasons for automated call handling. Nonetheless, it’s time to create your WOW.
- Get it right the first time to reduce customer churn: When you get told “no” in the case of a customer service satisfaction incident where you’re seeking resolution in your favor, do you meekly go away or do you ask to speak to a supervisor? It’s estimated that senior executives spend up to 30% of their time dealing with escalated customer service issues. And the majority of customer service issues are what I call “self-inflicted wounds” – mistakes on the part of the company that could have been avoided. Think of the costs you could avoid and the time you could back into your busy schedule when you achieve “get it right the first time”, or if it’s a self-inflicted wound, give your people the power to find a “yes” for the customer. Research shows that front line staff give away less in concessions than managers once a call is escalated, AND you’ll save the cost of spending your time resolving an issue that should have been handled by your front lines.
- Save your customers time to increase customer satisfaction management: There’s never enough time in your day. Your customers have the same challenge. Are your products easy to use or convoluted? Are your ordering processes streamlined or making them jump through flaming hoops? What can you do to make their lives easier and save them time? One of the things I love to do is lead an exercise called “Staple Yourself to the Experience”. When you follow the experience that a customer goes through at every stage of doing business with you, you’ll get seriously motivated to make some changes. Along the way, you’ll drive needless cost out of your system. It’s win-win!
- Stop selling and start listening to build customer service satisfaction: When customers leave, over 2/3 of the time it’s because they feel a sense of indifference on the part of the vendor. The very best way to show customers that they matter is to make the time as a senior executive, to listen to the hidden issues that they may never even raise with their rep or your customer service department, but which may keep them comparing you to your competitors. The big benefit here is that you deepen the relationship with your firm – if your rep ever leaves, the relationship doesn’t go with them.
- Save or make them money to skyrocket your customer satisfaction in a way that conventional surveys never measure: Making a customer look good never goes out of style. But this is not about giving them discounts, it’s about things like cost of ownership or delivering a real solution, not just your product or service. A ball bearing company stopped selling just the ball bearing needed to repair the forklift truck, and started selling a complete repair kit, which saved the customer the hassle of managing several small inventory items, AND got the forklifts back in service faster, which was a big money-maker for them. How can you change the conversation from features and benefits to a value proposition with a compelling return on investment?
- Become the path of least resistance to increase your number of truly engaged customers: Have you ever noted that parks and campuses have formal paths as well as the informal dirt paths of people getting where they need to go faster? When you look at what it takes to do business with you vs. your competition, make sure you’re not trying to force-fit your customers onto “your” well-laid out path. A hallmark of great customer satisfaction management is to get them where they want to go more easily.
- Deal with the glitches: When on occasion you don’t get it right the first time, get it right the second time. Customers know that sometimes, things happen, and will tend to be forgiving as long as the issues are dealt with promptly and fairly. In fact, research shows that customers react more poorly to lack of fairness than anything else, so make sure you also tender a sincere apology when something goes awry!
- Create a feel good to improve customer loyalty: When you think about all of the vendor interactions you have each day in your personal or work life, how many of them are enjoyable? How many of them do you dread? How many are so bland that you don’t even remember them? Customers can’t NOT have an experience. Only you can determine if it’s good, bland, or bad, so choose wisely what you want to create. Ask your customers what makes them roll their eyes when they do business with you. You’ll get a laugh, and honest answer, and tons of loyalty if you make it go away.
- Solve their real challenges to take customer service satisfaction to a new level and retain clients longer: Uncover the challenges that you have the uncommon skills, knowledge, expertise, or ability do something about when you go beyond business as usual. These are the challenges that are slowing them down in their business that need your talents and ingenuity to think outside the box and it’s another way to create a WOW.
- Provide peace of mind as the ultimate hard-to-copy way deliver far more than mere “satisfaction” and eliminate customer churn: This is one of the most powerful ways to take care of your customers and keep them coming back for more. Think about the vendors you can count on to always come through for you, whatever it takes. Is that how your customers see you? If so, you’re a partner instead of merely a supplier that keeps them up at night, wondering if you’ll come through for them.
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None of these tips about customer satisfaction management are rocket science. But it’s not always easy to implement simple ideas. As always, if you want support to create real change for the better in your business, please reach out.
What’s the one idea from this list which, if you implemented it, would have the greatest positive change in your business… and on your customers?