If one of the key performance indicators for the company is to improve customer satisfaction (CSAT), know that this is not a one-time task of set it and forget it. It is a collective task for everyone in the company as you create the customer’s experience and define their journey.
Continuously improving customer satisfaction contributes to retention and repeat business in the long run, which equates to more revenue. Service recovery is damaging, so you should get started right now.
1. Set customer expectations clearly from the beginning.
Of course, it is hard to meet or exceed customer expectations when they do not match the products or services provided by the company.
Every person in the company has a role:
- Marketing materials need to explain what is possible and present offerings clearly.
- Sales needs to hear and realign misinterpretations.
- Support / operation teams must consistently have the correct information to support and deliver service.
- Finance must have clearly outlined agreements.
The key point to remember: It’s not about getting a customer excited for your product or service; it’s about keeping them engaged long-term. The better the understanding of the customer from the start, the easier it will be for them to find value in your company’s offering throughout your customer-business relationship.
It's not about getting a customer excited about your product or service; it's about keeping them engaged long-term.
2. Documentation and reference. Know your customer like a friend.
By documenting customer encounters, your team can better understand the request history and current situation.
A personal experience: I recently called the manufacturer about my earpiece. After three separate calls with three different call agents, I called again and quoted my case number. The support team solved it. Things that helped improve customer satisfaction were:
- The recurring issue was documented, and I had a reference number for the specific case.
- Since I had this information, each team I talked with could verify what was happening, what had already been tried, and what other possibilities existed for solving my issue.
- The satellite support team (tier 2) could get up to speed fast and offered a resolution.
The experience gave me back confidence in the company. I will continue to be a customer.
With the abundance of tools in the market today, choose customer service software that can help you track customer requests and record nearly anything about your customer that might be beneficial in supporting them.
All types of information — how many children the customer has for insurance purposes, the position of a person in the company, the type of vehicle driven or their favorite repeat store order —can help a service representative (team/agent) improve customer satisfaction. I makes the customer feel special and not simply like they are number #301 in a spreadsheet.
3. Break apart silos. Create a seamless customer experience.
As with point one, achieving a seamless experience throughout the customer journey involves many other departments in the company. All teams within your company should have access to the necessary information about the customer (as an individual or as a group). They should be able to view and contribute to customer data, requests, phone calls, contracts, etc. (depending on access rights, of course).
This provides transparency between teams in your company. Teams don’t have to wait for information from other teams before taking action, which speeds up support. Plus, there’s less room for error and miscommunication because everyone sees the same information.
Also, collectively viewing the data of all customers helps your company monitor how changes or decisions impact your customers. The quicker your company can respond to negative impacts (or maximize positive ones), the more you will improve customer satisfaction long-term.
4. Dive into the data. Build customer relationships.
For service managers, all of this documentation offers a treasure trove of information that helps them be proactive with customers and develop team member skills.
When the customer history and data are captured in customer service software, it gives the service manager a chance to review cases. They can offer direct feedback, identify knowledge gaps and create knowledge base articles / SOPs to ensure support personnel have the proper guidance. Some tools or software used can automatically alert or notify them when something has gone wrong or any changes are made.
Taking it a step further, service managers can also use BI tools to gather advanced analytics on the current customer status and support trends. Asking questions like “which customers have had a significant increase in the number of cases” can help identify changing needs, or managers can see patterns in peak call hours to help coordinate staffing.
5. Reach out. Don’t wait for customers to call you.
This comes back to being proactive. Some customers will call in when they have an issue or feedback. But, others might post on social media, write an email, send a ticket, post a review or engage a chatbot. Your company should hear if your customer is happy, angry, or confused no matter how they share their feedback.
Offer tools via your website for people to get in touch. Carefully monitor your brand online, and have people responsible for reading and replying to online comments. As this information pours in from different locations, capture it in your customer service tool. The story told can guide your product or service forward.
Whether you are still keeping paper files (yikes!), using email folders or taking advantage of customer service software, keep records. The information shared between the customer and your teams is valuable.
What’s most important when looking to improve customer satisfaction is to understand, listen, solve, deliver, engage, meet customer expectations and eventually exceed the expected by going the extra mile – for today and future business.