Isn’t it enough that customers find a product appealing, the service high-quality, and the price reasonable? At one time, sure, but not any longer. A customer who says “yes” to all of the above might be satisfied with your product, but loyalty is a whole different matter. What’s more, consumers are comparing the support they receive and the overall customer experience to the biggest and best, whether you’re a modern-day mom-and-pop selling fine wool blankets from a tiny town in the Pacific Northwest or the hottest real estate upstart. Consumers expect you to deliver like Amazon.
A deeper understanding of consumer expectations, the metrics to measure satisfaction, and key elements of a happy customer are invaluable to the long-term success of your business and also your employees. We present this guide for both customer satisfaction and ensuring loyalty in your customer base.
What is customer satisfaction, by definition?
What does a satisfied customer mean? Does that person in turn create a satisfied employee? Or is it that a satisfied employee creates a satisfied customer? Although customer satisfaction, often abbreviated to CSAT, is not an exact science, it’s likely that, as in all healthy and prosperous relationships, the satisfaction of a customer and the satisfaction of the people in your company who work directly with them are intertwined and interdependent. Bottom line: Customer satisfaction has many components. Below, we break down the definition in terms of how to foster and create a solid customer experience.
How to ensure customer satisfaction
1. Understand your customers
This means help them understand their own customers
Specialized service can go a long way in keeping customers loyal. If you manage to win over a customer’s heart in a manner that’s irreplaceable elsewhere (like throwing in a free pickup for car servicing), it’s more likely they’ll return despite a lower cost elsewhere. It costs less than you think and lowering churn rate can reap unimaginable profits in future.
Predicting customer satisfaction is not the stuff of fortune tellers, or even someone doing manual ticket triage and making their best guess). Armed with the right tools and data, it’s within reach for every company. Although CSAT is a key customer service metric, it isn’t comprehensively used to improve operations or help reduce customer churn. By applying machine learning and predictive analytics, you can now improve your customer relationships over the long-term. This includes predicting in the moment how likely a ticket is to receive a good or bad rating, allowing you to take steps to bring about a positive outcome.
At Zendesk customer LendingClub, agents use triggers and a report that Andrew Jensen, director of payment solutions, calls “the ping-pong tracker” reduce the number of touches on any given ticket. This report relies on Zendesk Support analytics to produce a list of tickets touched by more than three internal groups without any outbound email to a customer. The company also adds some of the most popular articles to automated replies with Answer Bot. “We’ve found that this has been a big lift,” he said. “Customers email when they need a bit of direction, and sometimes we can get the answer to them sooner than they expected.” LendingClub has established a self-service score of 11:1, meaning for every 11 visitors to the help center, only 1 ends up creating a ticket.
2. Create familiarity through more ways to engage
People like seeing familiar faces. In a physical store, having employees that know the customer’s name and preferences differentiates you from competitors. In the cyber world, having seasoned employees who know about your company inside and out allows them to provide customers with a higher level of service when help is needed.
Live chat allows businesses to create a familiar experience for their customers because different agents can read past conversations and follow up on previously unresolved issues. Think about it: If a company constantly lays off its employees and every time you seek help, an inexperienced agent fumbles with handbooks and knowledge base articles before forwarding you to someone else, would you return?
Use of live chat in customer service has skyrocketed. In the four-year period between 2009 and 2013, it rose from 30% to 52% in 2013, and it has continued to climb since. In fact, nearly a third of consumers expect live chat to be available when they come into contact with a brand. Customers have also reported highest satisfaction rates from a conversation on live chat (73%) as compared to traditional platforms like email (61%) or phone (44%). The 2019 Zendesk Customer Experience Trends report found that chat is one of the fastest-growing channels -- 24/7 availability is important for more than a third of respondents, and 49 percent highly valued being able to resolve an issue quickly.
3. Create a common enemy
Most fans of a certain product hate on another. Especially when they’re extremely similar, but not exactly the same. For example, Pepsi and Coke during Halloween of 2013. Pepsi came up with a clever ad, but Coke fans retorted with even cleverer marketing.
Moral of the story? If you can’t give your fans a reason to rally together, give them a cause to rally against. As the saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Think Apple and Windows—the friendly war between cool and geeky never ends. Once you’ve understood what makes loyal customers tick and you’re determined to convert your normal consumers into raving fans, here’s what you need to do.
4. Commit wholeheartedly
The only way to succeed in keeping loyal customers is to dedicate time and effort towards a strategy that always puts your customers in the first place. A good strategy to take up is the balanced scorecard developed by Robert S Kaplan and David P Norton. The strategy addresses the needs of the various stakeholders in an integrated manner, with the company’s core values as its pivoting point.
The balanced scorecard guides companies in thinking about their decisions and operations from 4 different points of views: the customer perspective, the financial perspective, the internal process perspective, and the employee perspective. What this means is that if a company places customer loyalty and satisfaction at its core, the strategy will help tie in all other areas in order to meet that goal.
This is extremely useful when it comes to helping individual employees see their own value and their impact on the entire company. For example, a customer service agent would have their own scorecard on how to satisfy customers. Yet at the same time, they’ll be able to see the impacts their own actions have on the financial section of the company, since the balanced scorecard ties everything together. When employees feel important to the company and all stakeholders feel committed to a goal while having clear targets, the ultimate dream of achieving customer satisfaction and loyalty can be attained.
At Zendesk, research like the Customer Experience Trends Report looks at what businesses are actually doing through the lens of the Zendesk Benchmark, an unparalleled source of data for customer support collected from 45,000 businesses that use Zendesk across 140 countries. On a regular basis, this information identifies mission-critical data and concepts: the top trends in customer support were identified, helping teams understand how they’re performing against their peers, and how to improve their customer experience.
Why do companies value customer satisfaction?
1. It’s a key measure of success
The ever daunting CSAT (customer satisfaction score) troubles even the most brilliant of us. Since customer satisfaction is a self-reported measure, businesses often try to figure out what their customers are thinking through a series of stats.
We launched a Chat Rating feature which allows customers to rate each individual chat and enables businesses to find out just how happy their clients are when speaking online to a chat agent. This is an example of a measure in obtaining your CSAT.
However, since a comprehensive and accurate CSAT is usually made up of more than one measure, collecting information from different aspects of the business can help provide a more thorough idea of how satisfied your customers are.
For example, considering customer service alone, data can be collected from different areas, such as the speed of service, efficiency when solving problems, and ease of use regarding the customer service platform. Not only will a business be able to find out how satisfied their customers are with regards to customer service, they’ll also be able to see which areas they are dissatisfied with. Our built-in analytics function is a great way to observe customer behavior and view information such as chat duration and number of missed chats.
2. It fosters loyalty
Customer loyalty is tougher to measure than customer satisfaction. This is because rather than directly asking customers how loyal they think they are, loyalty can only be measured when observing the actual behavior of a client.
However, it is still possible to think of customer loyalty as a statistical measure where accuracy increases with the number of measures. There are a few popular indicators of customer loyalty, such as customer retention, advocacy rate, and repurchasing rate.
Data collection for these measures can be done in 2 ways. The first is to ask customers questions that will indicate their loyalty. For example, when trying to find out advocacy rates, questionnaires with items such as “Would you speak to your friend about our brand?” and “How often do you speak to your friends about our brand?” can help shed some light on their likelihood to be your brand ambassadors. NPS (Net Promoter Score) surveys are also one of the ways businesses separate their customers into promoters, detractors, and passives.
The second method, which is also more reliable since it doesn’t rely on customers reporting their sentiments, is to observe customer behavior. Repeat purchases can be tracked with loyalty cards, and advocacy rates with social media reposts and referral benefits. These behavioral statistics speak a lot about how loyal a customer is even when they don’t speak out loud.
Measuring success is important because it lets you know if your current strategy is working. Although success can come slowly and a strategy that works for now won’t always work forever, periodic measures can help a business identify problems before they exacerbate into crises.