There are plenty of ways of gauging customer satisfaction. Then there's the right way. Find out what you need to do from start to finish right in this article.
If you’re the average company, measuring customer satisfaction looks something like this:
You don’t actively collect customer feedback, or you don’t have a systematic way of doing it. When sales are down, you might ask two or three customers how their experience was. Their response is usually a quick “Yeah, great.” or “It’s OK,” as they nervously pay for their things and leave.
The only time you speak to your customers beyond just a few sentences is when they call the support line.
You might have taken the bold step of placing a box of comment cards towards the exit of your store, but by the looks of it, it’s got more dust in it than comment cards.
Now comes the time to have a meeting and look at the overall state of the business. After discussing marketing and sales, it’s time to talk about customer satisfaction. You might come up with the following:
- Because nobody left their comments on the comment card, everything is fine.
- Because only 50 people complained about something this month compared to last month’s 60, we’re doing better at customer satisfaction.
- We received two positive online reviews and one negative, so customer satisfaction is good enough.
After the meeting, it’s time to go back to the daily routine of wondering if there’s a way of boosting sales, all the while neglecting measuring customer satisfaction which could actually give you the answer if done right.
Imagine that. What if all your customers were so satisfied with your service that they tell their friends? What would that mean for your bottom line?
If every single customer was satisfied and told a friend about it, your revenues would shoot through the roof.
As simple as that.
But let’s look at the consequences of measuring customer satisfaction with minimum effort, or doing nothing at all:
Insufficient Sample Size
Customers that leave feedback are either ecstatic or abhor your brand. Customers with an average opinion will not take the time to leave feedback as it takes time and effort. But when someone wants to complain or wants to sing your praises, they’ll flock to that comment card box or take out their phones and publish their review for the world to see. What’s more, these extremes are only a small sample size of your total customer base, so you’re basing your perception of customer satisfaction on perhaps 1 - 2% of your total customer base.
Inaccurate portrayal, fudgy memory
These edgy customers that took the time to fill your dust-covered comment cards or decorate your Google Reviews page probably did so a while after their experience. Why is this a problem? Think about this: our working memory starts to decay already 15 - 30 seconds after an event. In other words, less than a minute after an experience, your customers will not remember 100% of it. How much will they remember after 1 or 2 days? How sure can you be of their recollections representing the reality of what they experienced, and how your business treated them?
By not paying attention to customer satisfaction, you’re basing your perceptions on only a few die-hards with fudgy memories. Are you willing to bet your entire business on that?
You now have the full picture. You’ve always understood that the more satisfied customers you have, the more revenue you can generate. You also appreciate that doing nothing, or the bare minimum, regarding customer satisfaction can be dangerous and lead to bad decisions that impact your growth.
Now we’re ready to answer the million-dollar question: What is the right way of measuring customer satisfaction?
Maximize real-time responses
To make good measurements, you need something to measure. In this case, you need as many of your customers as possible to leave you feedback. Whatever your measurements are telling you, you can be sure they’re good if your sample size is large enough.
What would you rather trust? A good result from 5% of your customers, or a bad result from 85% of your customers?
Maximizing the amount of feedback you get is an art and a science. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, and it depends on the nature of your business. If your business is a cafe, for example, you could place smiley feedback terminals (link) on the exit asking the question “how was your experience today?” Because leaving feedback takes only seconds, most customers would interact with the device -- leaving you with tons of real-time feedback.
If your operation is mostly online, you could consider placing web widgets or using survey links. You could trigger a web widget to ask how the customer is feeling right as they’re at the checkout page. You could include a link to a quick survey on the purchase receipt you send customers over email or send it to them through SMS.
The rule of thumb is this: Figure out how your customers interact with your business, and ask for feedback in a way that flows - not interrupts - that process. The closer to the experience you ask for feedback, the better.
Make it actionable
As you’re collecting feedback data, it may be tempting to make superficial analyses similar to the ones at the beginning of this article. If you go beyond the superficial -- understanding what your data is telling you and building an action plan -- you might find surprising conclusions that could boost your revenue.
A simple trick to achieve this is to ask “Why?”
Let’s suppose you’re collecting real-time feedback from a smiley terminal at your cafe. Taking a cursory look at your charts, you see that last week you had 60 happy faces and 2 sad ones. This week, you have 82 happy faces and 3 sad ones. You then ask “Why am I getting such a boost in positive feedback?” Looking for the answer, you find that on Wednesdays at 1PM, you get an unusual amount of happy faces. Cross-referencing this with your on-site employees, you realize that the shift manager has been going above and beyond for customer service -- which is highly appreciated.
You can then start building a roadmap of actionable steps that are certain to increase customer satisfaction. What does this worker do differently? How can we apply it at a company level?
The rule of thumb is this: Don’t stop at the surface level. Ask “why?”, explore what your data is telling you, and create an action plan.