Customer satisfaction isn’t just a “feel good” or “brand image” thing either; it has significant impact on customer retention rate, the effectiveness of referral marketing, sales volume, and, most importantly, your profitability.
Customer satisfaction indicators when designing a customer service strategy
Average response time: In today’s “instant gratification” culture, customers expect a quick response when they reach out with questions or requests for assistance.
First contact resolution rate: Customers are more likely to be satisfied with your service if their queries are resolved during their first contact.
Customer referrals: Affiliate or referral programs give you insights on the level of customer happiness and who your biggest fans are.
Recurring purchases: Customers vote with their wallets – making repeat purchases or continuing their subscriptions is a good indicator of customer happiness.
Post-conversion behaviors: Happy customers are more likely to engage with your brand post-purchase. On the other side of the coin, if you take the initiative to continue engaging with customers post-conversion, they’re more likely to make recurring purchases or tell others about your brand.
5 ways to keep customers happy and increase retention rates
Here’s how you can retain more customers and increase profits by improving customer satisfaction and delivering an engaging experience throughout the customer lifecycle.
1. Content marketing
Content marketing is a key component of a customer-centric inbound marketing strategy that can help attract and retain more high-quality customers. It allows you to cultivate customer relationships at every stage of the customer journey, stay top of mind, and improve engagement.
You can offer customer-exclusive content and resources to boost engagement post-purchase and increase customer retention. This can help nurture relationships, build trust, create an emotional connection, cultivate loyalty, and increase repeat purchases.
Publish educational content such as articles, infographics, and videos on the latest industry news, best practices, and how-to’s. Address FAQs, share customer success stories, and show customers little-known facts, hidden features, or tips and tricks about your products.
TIP: To create a personalized experience, you can leverage a CRM software system to segment your customer list and deliver targeted content based on various criteria, such as interest, preferences, location, and past purchases.
Hosting virtual events is another cost-effective way to engage with customers. The two-way dialogs can help you gauge sentiment and gather insights to further improve the customer experience.
2. Social media
Did you know that customers that engage with brands on social media spend 20 to 40 percent more with those companies than other customers?
As more consumers are using social media to interact with brands and seek customer support, it’s important to establish a social media presence and monitor the activities closely.
Respond to posts in which your brand is tagged or mentioned and share fan posts. Ask your followers questions to spark conversations and use contests or giveaways to generate excitement. Share information that’s relevant to your target market and align your content with current events or industry trends.
In addition, develop a social media customer service strategy to make sure all inquiries and requests are resolved quickly. Maintain your brand voice in all communications and provide guidelines to your customer care team on when to take the conversation offline or move to a direct message.
Many customers expect to interact with brands on social media 24/7, so make sure you have all the channels covered at all times. This is especially important if you have a global audience. You can assemble a distribute customer care team to ensure that your ability to provide timely service isn’t restricted by time zone or national holidays.
Add a personal touch in your social media interactions – especially on public posts and comments – to build relationships and communicate a customer-centric brand image. Building emotional relationships with your customers can lead to a 306 percent higher customer lifetime value!
TIP: Not sure how to maintain constant communication with global audiences? Using social media management software to automate your interactions during off-hours will make the process seamless.
3. Customer feedback
Gathering customer feedback can go beyond gaining valuable customer insights to improve your products and services. It also allows you to build trust and relationships by showing customers that you value their input by involving them in your product development roadmap and getting them invested in the success of your brand.
While there are many software applications for conducting customer surveys, don’t overlook the power of simply asking a question via email, phone, live chat, or social media. The personal touch and immediacy can often yield candid feedback that can not only lead to valuable insights but also deepen customer relationships.
What to do after you've gathered customer feedback
Besides making improvements to your products and services to meet demands, you can use the information to continue engaging with your customer base.
Share the survey results with your customers and how you plan to improve the product or their experience. When you announce upgrades based on feedback, thank your customers for the input (for example, on an email campaign).
Screen for any mentioning of unsatisfactory experiences and handle them immediately. If you resolve a complaint in a customer’s favor and exceed their expectations, up to 70 percent of them will return compared to 91 percent that would leave if the issues aren’t resolved.
TIP: Staying on top of your online presence and reviews is key! Brands also use reviews to grow their brand awareness and connect with buyers.
Track and improve your first contact resolution rate and customer support response time on each channel. For example, customers expect a one-hour turnaround time for emails, three minutes wait time for phone calls, and immediate response on live chat.
In particular, customer self-service has become an important component of any customer care strategy because 50 percent of customers consider the ability to resolve issues themselves important and 70 percent of consumers expect a self-service portal on a brand’s website.
You can also increase engagement and improve service by building a customer community. This allows you to encourage customer collaboration through social media and/or forum. Customers can exchange experiences with those who are in similar situations so they can apply your solution to their specific challenges and get the most out of your products.
5. Analytics and training
Keep your customers happy by continuously tracking results and refining your customer service.
While customer feedback is important, it can be subjective at times. On the other hand, metrics don’t lie. It’s, therefore, important to use analytics to understand customer behaviors, make data-driven decisions, and fine-tune your customer care strategy.
For example, you can gain insights on which channels your customers are most likely to seek help so you can allocate more resources to improve response time. You can also identify the most commonly asked questions to create content that will improve customer self-service while freeing up the customer care team to provide more personalized services.
The ability to anticipate your customers’ requests and queries allows you to better leverage automation technologies (for example, chatbots) to streamline customer interactions by providing an immediate response to common questions and routing queries to the right agents to improve first contact resolution rate.
After you have gained insights into customer preferences and behaviors, make sure to incorporate the learning into your customer care team’s training. For phone and chat support, keep scorecards for each agent for ongoing customer support training. They’re the face of your company and the only point of interaction for many customers.
Customer support training should focus on developing patience, empathy, communication skills, and the ability to deliver a consistent brand experience across all touch points. In addition, representatives should have a good understanding of your customers’ challenges and have thorough knowledge of your products so they can provide immediate support.
Keeping your customers happy is the key to long-term success and profitability. It allows you to gain more market share in today’s competitive environment where consumers seek out brands that have a reputation for providing great service and are recommended by other customers.
Improving customer happiness allows you to boost customer retention, lower customer acquisition cost, increase customer lifetime value, and, ultimately, raise your profits – a win-win situation for all.
To further ensure your customers are happy, check out if customer success software is the right move for your company.
Matt Shealy is the President of ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.