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Make ‘Em Smile: What Drives Successful Customer Satisfaction?

Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
Updated Aug 22, 2022

In a world full of bad customer service, what is it that consumers are really looking for in their experience with companies?

“The customer is always right” is an expression business professionals have used for a long time. But even when the customer isn’t right, they should always be happy and satisfied with your business and the service that they receive. Customers who have good experiences with businesses will keep coming back and often recommend them to their friends and family. Customer loyalty drives sales and brand recognition.

Customer service is one of the most valuable areas of business, and it’s important to develop it within your company. When training employees for customer service, it’s important to determine what customers are looking for when they interact with businesses. To do so, you have to create and implement customer service strategies into your day-to-day operations.

What drives customer satisfaction?

Product or service quality

Product quality is an important factor in customer satisfaction; if your product is of low quality, customers are unlikely to return​. Your customer service quality might be excellent, but it will mean little if customers don’t enjoy your products. So first focus on creating a product your customers cannot live without.

Perceived expectations

When a customer comes to your business to purchase a product or service, they will have preconceived expectations. If you fail to meet those, the customer is unlikely to be satisfied. Therefore, it’s important to anticipate some of those needs and try to meet them as best you can. 

Accessibility

As a business owner, you might also want to consider how easy it is for customers to interact with you. Being accessible shows that you care about your customers’ time. This makes it easier to build a relationship with them, thus improving your brand reputation.

Convenience

Similar to accessibility, it is important to take convenience into account when designing online platforms. Make sure it is easy for customers to browse and buy from you. One useful strategy is reviewing your website as if you’re looking at it from a customer’s perspective. Discover what is confusing or hard to access and then make improvements. [Read more about engaging your customers online.]

Loyalty and appreciation

Offering a loyalty program can help your customers feel appreciated, which in turn will lead them to return and even recommend your business to others in their social circle. Such programs can also help build customers’ relationship with your brand. Some of these offer personalized communications and rewards that make customers feel special and want to stay with the brand.

Communication

Maintaining communication with your customers further serves to develop their relationship with your brand. Investing in a mailing list and implementing email marketing campaigns will help your customers feel connected to your business. Providing opportunities for them to communicate with you as well, such as customer feedback surveys, will make them feel heard. Be transparent in your communications with customers regarding their feedback, and implement the constructive feedback you receive.

Bottom LineBottom Line: Your customer satisfaction is driven by the quality of your products and services, how well you meet customer expectations, your accessibility and convenience, and how well you communicate with and value your customers.

Communication is key

As in most aspects of life, healthy communication keeps relationships in good shape. The same can be said for customer relations. Clear communication from the start will support a successful customer experience.

The following are some suggested strategies for engaging customers in a positive exchange.

Ask questions

It is important to ask a customer questions to understand their wants better. If your product or service is customizable, asking questions and clarifying their request is the best way to ensure their needs are met. Inquire if they desire anything else or if they have any other questions. Asking questions and learning about your customer is the first step in building a relationship with them, and that involves trust.

Listen

When talking to a customer, be sure to listen and even repeat back key points or requests. This tactic helps them feel secure in knowing they are being heard and helps employees understand their needs. Listening is an effective strategy to help them feel valued and important.

Set expectations

Once the customer has expressed their needs, it is important to communicate what can be expected from the service or product being offered. Being clear about what they can expect will eliminate the possibility of confusion about what will be delivered. Customer satisfaction is usually improved when a company underpromises and overdelivers.

Communicate company or service policies

Customer dissatisfaction often results from poor communication or a misunderstanding. Being clear about company policies is not just good communication; it’s a good business practice. If a customer is not aware of a return or cancellation policy and is unable to return a product or receive a refund for a service, they will likely become frustrated and less inclined to do more business with your company.

Follow up and get feedback

Once a sale is complete or service is performed, the interaction with the customer isn’t necessarily over. Following up with a customer after the fact is vital to determine if the product or service met their needs and if they are satisfied. Gestures like this are important ways to nurture the customer relationship and encourage return business. Capturing this feedback is also central to improving customer service for future customers.

TipTip: Maintain clear communication with customers, as this builds the relationship they have with your brand. Ask customers for feedback, listen to their criticisms and expectations, and be transparent with your policies.

How to satisfy customers 

Know your customer’s needs

An important part of customer service is learning what your customers want. You can learn more about their needs by actively listening to your customers, looking at reviews and organizing consumer data so it is easy to respond to them. Actively listening to customers is also invaluable for product development and will help you to anticipate future needs.

Be proactive

Anticipating customer needs will prevent or minimize customer dissatisfaction. For instance, some airlines send text messages to notify customers that their flight has been delayed or canceled. Relaying this information quickly shows the consumer that you value their time and are committed to preventing any inconvenience.

Meet expectations

Once you have set an expectation with a customer, it is critical you meet it. A primary reason for customer dissatisfaction is not receiving what a business promised. Making use of customer feedback is a great way to assess expectations and improve your ability to meet them.

Be consistent

Customers tend to feel more secure about a company if its messaging, products and service delivery are consistent. This means keeping information, service and product quality the same whether the customer is shopping in-store or online. Consistency also helps to build brand recognition.

FYIFYI: To satisfy your customers, understand and anticipate their needs, meet their expectations and be consistent in all aspects of your business.

Delivering quality customer service

Quality customer service is the foundation to ensuring a successful customer experience. Customer service is a catch-all for a variety of tactics that, when implemented in day-to-day operations, create an environment where customers feel welcomed, prioritized and satisfied.

One last tip to incorporate into your customer interactions, which will improve overall customer service, is to live by the Golden Rule.

It should go without saying that employees should follow the Golden Rule when working with customers. Specifically, treat customers the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes. Are your customers greeted promptly and in a welcoming manner? Are your employees courteous and friendly? Are customers’ questions addressed quickly and accurately?

By utilizing effective communication and customer service strategies, companies can offer customers a more satisfying experience. All of these tips can help improve customer retention and revenue generation.

Additional reporting by Justin Brown

Image Credit: DragonImages / Getty Images
Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.