A happy customer is a repeat customer. This has always been true and, for many years, that was a good enough reason to aim for customer satisfaction. After all, repeat customers can often serve as the backbone of any business.
But there’s another reason to strive to give your customers the best possible service—word of mouth, recommendations, referrals, whatever you want to call it—satisfied customers telling other potential customers why they should choose you over another service provider. The thing about word of mouth is that it’s gone global, and it’s no longer just your potential local clientele who can quickly and easily find out what people are saying.
The Internet is changing the way we do business, travel and interact with the world, and it’s more than just sharing memes on social media or having a contact page on a website. For example, where reviews used to be the domain of restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues, nowadays, anyone, anywhere can leave a review for just about any business … and they do.
All you need to do is look up whatever business you’re looking for in the area, and Google can provide you with a handy map-based breakdown of listed companies, along with links to their websites, contact information, opening times and, yes, reviews left by satisfied, and unsatisfied, customers.
Sadly, many companies still dismiss the power of online reviews and feedback—to their own detriment. Studies show that just under 75 percent of people trust online reviews and as little as just one negative review can cause nearly a full quarter of people to choose a different service provider instead. On the plus side, having four or five stars in your reviews can equate to more than a 30 percent increase in business, which is nothing to sniff at.
How to Improve Your Customer Satisfaction Rating
Building and maintaining a positive customer satisfaction rating, especially online, is an ongoing exercise. This doesn’t mean you have to be constantly working on it, however, but it does mean you should consider putting a few processes in place to help keep up the good work.
1. Ask for Feedback
The first step in making sure you have a top customer satisfaction rating, of course, is to provide consistently good service. That, however, can be tricky if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. Sometimes what you think is a great idea turns out to be something customers dislike and, if you keep doing it, it could drive them away or provoke them to leave a negative review.
Start by asking every client for feedback about the service they receive. Don’t be too general, though. A question like “Were you satisfied with the service you received?” for example, encourages just a yes or no answer, which doesn’t tell you much. Try asking a series of specific, targeted questions, such as: how would you rate the overall service you received, how satisfied were you with the customer service wait time, how happy are you with the outcome of your treatment and so on. Don’t forget to include a question asking for specific feedback or suggestions.
Preferably, give clients the option to provide a rating, rather than a simple yes or no, as this encourages them to consider the service more deeply. Once you have a clearer picture of what made them happy and what they didn’t like, you can focus on improving things.
Top Tip: Try directing customers to a feedback service where they not only get an opportunity to provide detailed feedback, but can also earn rewards towards future purchases.
2. Actively Work on Improvements
Except for a few circumstances when people are actively being silly, most of the feedback you receive is going to include a suggestion or specific feedback about something you do or don’t do, which, for whatever reason, is meaningful to your client. The more often something gets mentioned, the more pressing it is and the more quickly you need to do something about it.
You don’t have to implement every single suggestion that customers make, of course, as some of them may not only be difficult to implement, but may also be too expensive or potentially harmful to the business. That said, take every suggestion seriously and give it some due consideration. Whether the suggestions are about particular additional services that people want or are about changing the music, if someone took the time to write it down, it is something that means something to them and you should respect that.
3. Prioritize Improvements
It’s important to decide which changes and improvements you are going to work on first, and this is when customer satisfaction surveys can be very useful. As mentioned before, the more people give feedback about something specific, the more you should consider prioritizing it.
That said, there are several things that influence improvement prioritization: For example, the cost to implement these changes, the difficulty involved and the practicality of making them could all influence when and how you do things. Make a list of the improvements you intend to implement and take these various factors into consideration while prioritizing them.
Top Tip: Don’t just make changes because clients requested them. Consider whether a change is really going to improve things or whether it’s something that customers consider a nice-to-have rather than a necessity. If you have time and budget remaining once the necessary improvements have been made, then you can consider the nice-to-haves.
4. Keep Customers Updated
Customers like to know that their feedback and requests are being taken seriously, so make the effort to keep them updated about any changes and improvements you are making. Whether you send all your customers a newsletter, communicate via social media or simply put up a sign, let them know you have taken their suggestions into consideration and are making changes in due course.
The extent to which you keep customers in the loop is up to you, of course, but the more detail you can give them, the happier they may be. Even if things aren’t perfect just yet, if they know you are actively working on making these improvements, people are often more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt and be more patient.
Top Tip: Don’t keep quiet about the improvements you are making. If you have actively solicited feedback, but then remain silent about it, people are more likely to be annoyed or dissatisfied, thinking, “If they weren’t going to make changes, why bother asking for feedback?” Make the effort to let them know their opinions are valued and being taken seriously.
Donika Kraeva is the strategic communications manager at the Dentacoin Foundation. Experienced in translating big, complex ideas to the target group’s language, Kraeva has developed feedback systems and patient loyalty programs for international dental clinics.