15 Surefire Ways to Improve Customer Satisfaction

According to new report from CFI Group, customer satisfaction levels have experienced a slight uptick over the past year. Data compiled from consumers across various sectors in 2014 reflects a customer satisfaction score of 72 (out of 100), a three-point improvement from the previous year.

That said, this year’s reading matches the third-lowest score since the report was first issued. What does this mean? On the one hand, the year-over-year improvement in customer satisfaction indicates that things are turning around for the customer service industry, thanks to a rebounding economy. On the other, it represents the uphill climb many companies face in satisfying increasingly demanding consumers.

So what are some ways companies can drive customer satisfaction in today’s consumer-centric landscape? The following is a curated list of 15 different tactics to improve customer satisfaction, from a variety of sources:

1) Develop Customer Service Communities “The most advanced companies are using [customer service] communities to generate product ideas and test new products. Seventy-two percent of respondents [who participated in a Get Satisfaction survey] are using communities to get feedback on how existing products are used; 67 percent use them to collect ideas for new products or features from customers; and 46 percent rely on them for feedback on prototypes or beta products.”

(Source: Smart Customer Service)

2) Treat Customers Like You Would Want to Be Treated “Remember that your customer wants to see the sunny side of you and your business, so have your filter on and put yourself in their shoes. A good way to instill this attitude among your staff is to do some simple role play in which they act out a few scenarios that involve both easy-going and difficult customers. Observe how they handle the situation and coach them on areas to improve.”

(Source: U.S. Small Business Administration)

3) Provide Multichannel Support “With newer communications channels such as social, mobile, web chat, and email becoming increasingly important to customers, companies must develop an omnichannel approach to their customer service in order to connect with customers on the channels they prefer to use. Multichannel support not only offers customers a seamless transition between channels; it also prevents them from having to repeat information they may have already provided to different call center agents, which can be both irritating to customers and potentially damaging to a company’s reputation.”

(Source: CallMiner)

4) Make Employee Satisfaction a Priority “Simply put, when your employees are happy, they can provide better customer service. Studies have proven that employees often perform better at the jobs when they feel appreciated. Give each employee a personalized ‘thank you’ every now and then, and introduce an employee of the month program, if you don’t have one already. If you can help your employees take pride in their jobs, their work performance will also improve.”

(Source: CustomerThink)

5) Encourage Agents to Take Ownership of Problems “Encourage operators to take ownership of problems and spend time dealing with the customer, rather than escalating or passing over the problem. This gives advisors a real sense of pride in their job and means they are taking their own action and really shows excellent customer service.”

(Source: Call Centre Helper)

6) Turn Customer Survey Data into Action “Good data reflects the experiences your customers actually have with your company. Furthermore, good data equips your company to take action. [The key is to] develop a satisfaction survey that probes truthfully into the heart of your gaps and opportunities.”

(Source: Smart Customer Service)

7) Figure Out What the Customer Really Wants “Figure out what the customer really wants, if you can solve the problem they will pay; the value is often not in the discount you can offer but rather in the solution you can provide.”

(Source: Forbes)

8) Focus on Company Culture “The best companies put a focus on culture. They implement training programs around their cultural values to ensure everyone shares the same values and that they are consistently demonstrated when dealing with customers.”

(Source: Client Heartbeat)

9) Stay Current on Customer Reviews “In a world that is heavily dependent on the internet, consumers are quick to hop online and share how they feel about a product or service. Take the time to log onto the internet and observe what people are saying about your business. Find out what people enjoy, as well as what they’d like to see improved. The reviews you stumble across might surprise you and introduce you to areas of improvement that you had not previously considered. An expert from Meyers Transport Ltd says problems with shipping and receipt of goods, especially, can often be identified through customer reviews. Being aware of these issues is the first step towards resolving them.”

(Source: CustomerThink)

10) Offer Proactive Customer Service “The key here is to contact your customers before they need to pick up the phone and contact you! To be effective, these contacts should be timely, personalized and relevant to the consumer. The best proactive strategies make regular contact throughout the consumer lifecycle. Examples include: payment reminders, fraud monitoring, and personalized loyalty and reward schemes. This strategy can reduce inbound calls and improve agent efficiency. This proves that offering great customer service isn’t just good for the consumer, it’s good for the business as well.”

(Source: Call Centre Helper)

11) Personalize “In everything you do, make sure the customer feels like he or she is the only one that matters. Use the customer’s name, refer to personal information and congratulate a customer on his or her birthday. Make them feel at home.”

(Source: Tech Target)

12) Slash Wait Times “Everyone is busy, and if your company can’t provide the highest levels of service your customers won’t hesitate to find someone who can. Customer wait time needs to be eliminated or managed. Bureaucracy needs to be replaced with customer-friendly processes. Be easy to do business with, and your customers will reward you over and over again.”

(Source: Inc.)

13) Put a Social Media Plan in Place “Customers are increasingly demanding speedy responses—sometimes as quickly as in real time—to their complaints on social media. A company that isn’t paying attention can wreak havoc with its reputation.”

(Source: Smart Customer Service)

14) Rethink the Approach to Doing Business & Building Relationships “Because consumers are operating differently today, and more differently tomorrow, companies must embrace the environment in which we’re operating. It’s only fair to customers that companies rethink their approach to doing business and building relationships with them.”

(Source: DestinationCRM)

15) Demonstrate Product Knowledge “One of the most important aspects of successful customer service revolves around product knowledge. In other words, any and all agents who have direct customer contact should know the company’s product and/or service inside and out. In many cases, developing robust product knowledge involves managers helping agents build their confidence so they’re motivated to succeed. To do this, managers might try mapping out their assessment of an agent’s product knowledge and compare it against the agent’s, identifying any gaps that exist and making it easier to put together a professional development plan for the future.”

(Source: CallMiner)

Final Thoughts While there’s no one solution for improving customer satisfaction levels, the key is to develop a customer-centric mindset that will help inform decisions and company direction. The above list of recommended tactics from a wide variety of sources represents only the beginning – the possibilities are endless. What are some of the ways your company drives customer satisfaction?