The trend towards measuring Customer Satisfaction is more than just a fad. These days, every company that wants to last and eventually flourish knows the importance of constantly listening to customers in order to offer products, services and a relational experience in line with customer expectations. Measuring customer satisfaction is both the starting point of this listening process and the cornerstone of the strategy by which your company can sustainably differentiate itself and respond to the 5 following challenges—each of which is crucial to the growth and profitability of your business.
1. Reducing the financial impact of customer dissatisfaction
Never be too quick to celebrate a high Customer Satisfaction score! The greatest virtue of any approach to measuring Customer Satisfaction is a willingness to strive to consider what you least want to see: the percentage of customers who are not totally satisfied. These customers urgently need your attention because their dissatisfaction, regardless of the cause, translates to behaviours that represent a cost for your business.
Beyond the obvious cost of handling claims and complaints, customer dissatisfaction has a direct—and negative—impact on tomorrow's revenue.
Is this hard to believe? According to consulting firm Livework Studio, 91 % of consumers who become dissatisfied with a company's products or services never return. You can do the math for yourself: If even as few as 10% of your customers are dissatisfied, are you prepared to watch 90% of the revenue they could generate vanish into thin air?
Within the context of increasing competition across all industries, product and service quality cannot bear all the blame. The last edition of Accenture's Global Consumer Pulse survey shows that in 2017, 44% of customers turned their backs on a provider because they believed the buying experience was not adequately customised or because they worried about the way their personal data would be used.
If you want to protect your revenue and margins, you should weigh these risks and their potential financial impact. This will enable you to take an approach to measuring Customer Satisfaction which, by drawing your attention to the causes of dissatisfaction, will facilitate the creation of corrective—or even preventive—action plans.
2. Controlling the cost of customer acquisition
Every business seeks legitimate ways of acquiring new customers and bolstering its revenue. The problem is that the cost of acquiring new customers is rising: consumers are bombarded with ads on every side and you need to deploy increasingly aggressive marketing strategies, through a rising number of channels, to have any hope of holding their attention—especially if you want them to choose your brand.
This explosion in customer acquisition costs has shed glaring light on the limited budgets dedicated to retaining existing customers and increasing their loyalty. It is even more shocking that most marketers admit that retaining existing customers is less expensive than recruiting new ones—not necessarily 5 times less expensive, as we often read (without anyone knowing where this figure comes from), but more likely about 3 times less expensive—according to a study published at the beginning of 2018 by Weber-Stephen.
Since everyone (or nearly everyone) admits this, why not double down on your efforts to retain customers and, moreover, to develop the revenue you are already generating with them? A customer’s potential for repeating a purchase or even moving to an upgrade can of course be very different from one industry to another, but one thing is certain: only satisfied customers will be receptive to your initiatives and offers—which is yet another reason to measure customer satisfaction and aim to improve it.
3. Highlighting what is most attractive about your company's image
Just as many companies under-invest in retaining and empowering their existing customers, they tend to underestimate the influence of word of mouth on their brand image and its attractiveness. Even if this social phenomenon is not new, the expansion of communication and information channels has extended its reach and importance. Whether true or false, objective or subjective, everything that is said about your products and your business on social networks, on rating sites, or in online forums contributes to the formation of the opinion that consumers have of you, even if they aren't your customers.
When you realise that the large majority of purchasing journeys now begin with a Google search and that 76% of customers consult online ratings before making a purchase (either online or in store), it becomes easy to understand the potentially disastrous effect of overtly negative comments and feedback from dissatisfied customers.
Negative word of mouth, which is uncontrollably amplified in the digital space, does not only dissuade consumers from connecting with you or choosing your products; it also undermines your PR investments and destroys the credibility of your often-expensive publicity campaigns. Now more than ever, you must keep in mind this cherished adage from Bill Gates: "The best publicity is a satisfied customer."
Only an attentive approach to driving customer satisfaction, based upon consistent listening efforts and rigorous metrics, will enable you to take the necessary corrective steps for sustainably reducing dissatisfaction and fostering positive word of mouth.
4. Reinforcing the relevance of your approach to continuous improvement
The healthy growth of your business and the augmentation of your revenue depend in large part upon your capacity for continuously improving your product and service offerings, as well as the overall quality of the experience you provide to your clients. But how can you select improvements and prioritise your future actions for maximum impact? Quite simply, you can rely upon an analysis of what satisfies your customers and, especially, you can remain closely attentive to customer feedback and any recurring causes of dissatisfaction.
The most relevant improvements are those that match what your customers wishes, loves, hopes and preferences. Listening to your customer, by measuring their satisfaction, will give you the means to identify the highest-priority enhancements in the fairest way possible—those to which they will be most sensitive and that will make the biggest difference for them. The good news is that small changes, notably those that are organisational, rapid and inexpensive to implement, can have spectacular effects.
Before jumping headlong into a 5-year action plan, start by focusing on the small things that irritate your customers and how you can fix them quickly.
5. Improving the efficiency and the adequacy of your offerings
Establishing an approach for measuring Customer Satisfaction enables you above all to gain knowledge about your customers, their behaviours, and their expectations. This point is essential, because there is often a considerable difference between the perception you may have of their needs and their true expectations and aspirations—particularly because they are often far from being clearly expressed. This makes it necessary to learn how to decode their messages by reading between the lines. Once you learn how to do this, you may even be able to replace market studies, etc.
As we said at the beginning, measuring customer satisfaction is just the starting point for improving it. Your long-term success will stem from your ability to give Customers what they really want and need. It is an opportunity to keep a constant pulse on demand, and to better understand what pleases your customers and what causes dissatisfaction in order to take action and improve their experience.