Customer satisfaction is the third most important growth engine in any modern business, trumped only by new customer acquisition and marketing. The importance of customer satisfaction can never be overlooked.
If you’re interested in keeping your customers, you will want to monitor how satisfied they are with the service or products you provide, along with providing insights into why they may be leaving.
We have spent many long hours honing our approach to customer support, but it paid off in the end – having gained 95% customer satisfaction. We were constantly striving for new ideas and methods of hot to improve customer satisfaction. If you’re curious how we did, it’s all here.
What is customer satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction is a metric which measures how well a company, or more accurately, its product or service, meets customers’ expectations. The importance of customer satisfaction cannot be overstated. Establishing and maintaining excellent relationships with customers is the only effective, long-term strategy for businesses who strive to achieve high growth. Help Scout have found that 81% of companies providing superior customer experience outperform their competition.
Happy customers can be equated to loyal customers. Once a customer places their trust in you and is happy with the service you’re delivering, they will not only continue to do business with you but will also be more likely to upgrade or try other services and products you may supply. At the risk of overstating a point successful companies never overestimate the importance of customer satisfaction.
According to Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer can be anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than keeping an existing one. So, focusing on customer happiness is not just some new trend which modern businesses are obsessing over, it is a viable profit-driven strategy. A study conducted by Frederick Reichheld, the inventor of the net promoter score, has shown that increasing customer retention rates by a mere 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
How to measure customer satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction can be challenging to measure, but first you should thoroughly understand the exact meaning of just what is customer satisfaction. It is typically based on a short survey – populated with appropriate customer satisfaction survey questions – which a customer completes after fulfilling an action on the site, chatting with a support representative, or once their ticket is resolved. The CSat survey can be presented in many forms, but it’s usually a single question concerning a specific experience. For instance, you might be asked “How would you rate your shopping experience with us today?” and prompted to either leave a star rating or choose from a couple of simple options, such as excellent, good, or bad. You will be surprised just what you can learn from a well thought out customer satisfaction questionnaire.
Companies often try to make their customer satisfaction survey as lightweight and ubiquitous as possible; for example, by embedding it in the signature of an email or sending it automatically after a support ticket is closed.
However, failing to measure CSat can be expensive. 91% of unhappy customers who are non-complainers simply leave and 85% of customer churn due to poor service which was preventable. If you don’t measure your CSat, you will never know of these customers existence.
The Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is also a popular method of gauging customer satisfaction. It is calculated using the answer to one key question and a 0-10 scale. That one important question gives an unprecedented insight into customer experience and satisfaction – “How likely are you to recommend us to your friend or colleague?”
Service organisations are able to create loyal customers by teaching them how to solve their problems quickly and easily without having to use a support agent, rather than by delighting them in service interactions. These types of organizations often rely on the Customer Effort Score (CES), which measures how much effort a customer invested into a certain interaction with the company. The two versions of the CES survey question that are currently used by different businesses include “How much effort did you personally have to invest to handle your request?” (a 5-point scale) and “The organisation made it easy for me to handle my issue” (an agree/disagree type of question).
How are we measuring customer satisfaction?
It is vitally important that you know just how to measure customer satisfaction. “You can’t expect your clients to be completely happy with your product if you do not offer great customer support,” says Vitalija Golceva, Head of Customer Success at Teamgate.
The customer happiness team at Teamgate has come a long way since 2015 when they started seriously measuring customer satisfaction. According to Zendesk, which Teamgate employ to handle email tickets, the average customer satisfaction rate is 94%. However, due to a consistent and diligent approach to measuring customer satisfaction after each resolved ticket, Teamgate’s customer success team managed to increase the satisfaction rate from 95.1% in 2015 to 97.2% in 2017.
But just what was it that made our customers more satisfied with the support they were receiving? A couple of things, really. First of all, we began analysing customer support requests which were repeatedly receiving poor reviews. This allowed us to identify and solve our mistakes, and never make them again.
The second important factor which helped us improve our overall performance was adding the human touch. Of course, to save time and work more efficiently, we had to automate some of the most common messages, but we made it a priority to give each of our clients the individual and personal support they needed.
Vitalija, Head of Customer Success at Teamgate, comments, “At the end of the day, a kind word from a client makes every customer support specialist feel great.” So, as you can see it is worth the time and effort of understanding exactly how to improve customer satisfaction.
Best methods and practices
Successful companies will have understood and embedded their own brand’s customer satisfaction definition. “The methods you choose to apply in your organisation can be somewhat influenced by the nature of your business, or your industry,” says Vitalija. “However, many of the core practices ring true in most cases. To ensure your customers are happy with the support you deliver, try to incorporate these timeless tips into your performance.”
Positive customer satisfaction examples can be achieved as follows:
- Address your customer by name. Ask your customer if you can call them by their first name to strike a more personal relationship and establish trust. Communicating on first name basis helps to humanise the conversation and create a friendlier interaction.
- Always give the customer your name. By introducing yourself and giving the customer your name, you will reassure them that they’re talking to a real person, not some chatbot.
- Show empathy. A simple phrase like “That doesn’t sound good…” or “I can see why you’re upset” shows the customer that you empathize with their issue and understand how they’re feeling. It is one of the primary elements of successful social customer interaction and should never be overlooked.
When it comes to measuring customer satisfaction, there are a number of best practices you should take into account when crafting CSat surveys.
- Focus on one goal. If you’re asking your customers to help you improve your service or product, respect their time by limiting your survey to one specific goal and keep it short.
- Monitor the length. Again, you’re asking your customers to carve out time for you in their busy schedules, so, ensure that all questions included in the survey have a purpose. Aim for 5-10 survey questions relating to areas, such as overall satisfaction, service delivery, or customer experience.
- Don’t use jargon. Never assume how much or how little your customers know about the industry you’re operating in. Keeping your surveys free of jargon and easy to understand, for even the least knowledgeable customer, will increase your chances of soliciting more responses.
- Personalize and brand it. To help customers understand what they are participating in, and which company is asking for feedback, make sure the survey is branded and personalised. It’s also best to send the survey within 5 days of the customer’s interaction with your business.
What tools should you use and why?
To pinpoint the biggest issues in your service and prevent unhappy customers from churning, you might find some of the following tools useful.
This survey method has a high response rate because it is immediate and straightforward. You can prompt customers who are browsing your website to answer a few short questions while they are in the moment. What you’re doing is simply asking their opinion about your product, service or brand while they are actually engaging with it; hence its effectiveness.
These surveys need to be dispatched immediately after you provide a service to measure how happy your customers’ experience has been. Real-time interactions are what makes post-service surveys such a powerful tool.
If you want to pick your customers’ brains and gain a more insightful view into the health of your customer service, sending longer email surveys with multiple questions can be an option. However, be aware that these surveys have a low response – typically, 10 to 15%.
How to handle difficult customers
Working in customer support almost inevitably means occasional interaction with difficult customers. It’s also possible you have to do a little more often that, however, the more experience you get with handling complaints, the better you improve at it when it becomes necessary. According to Vitalija, “turning an unhappy customer around is actually not that difficult if you know what to do and how to do it. Here are a few rules that we go by at Teamgate.”
Rule #1: listen to your customer. If you ever try to talk to an angry customer, you’ll end up in a very sour situation. Allow the client to speak their mind and get the bad stuff off their chest, regardless of whether they’re right or not. One of the key skills of a good listener is to recognize the real issue at heart, having asked the correct questions to uncover them successfully. The best thing you can do to manage the customer’s emotions is to allow them to complain until they are ready to engage in a conversation.
Rule #2: imagine you’re in front of a crowd. Sometimes you might get sucked into the dark place, from which the unhappy customer is coming. You might be tempted to be rude and unhelpful towards them because they’re treating you unfairly and the customer isn’t always right. But if you take a step back and think about it; it really isn’t worth it. When dealing with particularly troublesome customers, try to imagine that your conversation is being listened to and watched by a hundred other clients. This should make it easier to stay professional, even in high-tension situations.
Bringing it all together
Customer happiness leads to customer retention, which in turn leads to customer acquisition; as satisfied clients will tell at least 6 people about a good experience or interaction they have had with a brand. Putting the right measures in place to monitor, and continuously improve customer support, is a high-priority task for all growth-oriented businesses. Positive customer service examples should also be collected, analysed and employed for future interaction experiences.