In today's world of uber social media, a customers experience is visible to the entire networked world in real-time. People started out buying books (and now buy boats online), and many potential online buyers read the reviews before making a purchasing decision. Customers choose restaurants based on positive reviews and the same holds for nearly every other area in the life of a consumer.
While good reviews are great marketing tools for all kinds of organizations, conversely negative reviews (whether for shoddy workmanship or a product or poor service) is a marketing nightmare — bad word of mouth results in bad reputation which results in bad for business.
Business-to-Business firms are slightly more insulated from the mainstream reviews, posts, tweets, and blog posts but a reputation for poor customer service (or craftsmanship) spreads quickly online and can linger for ages.
Developing and maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction is an important part of any organization's strategy and operating plans.
To preserve the reputation of your company, consider the following.
- Learn How to Measure Customer Satisfaction: It is important to establish a baseline for your customer satisfaction measures. From simple surveys to tools including Net Promoter Score, it is essential to give structure and rigor to your measures. Of course, there is both an art and a science to identifying the proper measures as well as interpreting them and translating them into actions. This article offers a primer on measuring customer satisfaction.
- Create a Customer Satisfaction Survey: Designing and delivering a customer satisfaction survey is challenging for organizations that lack a formal research function. It is incumbent upon the customer service professional to design a clear, easy-to-use survey that measures the right attributes. Additionally, it's important to assess the right time and location to administer the survey. Every step in the process must be considered carefully or you are at risk of skewing the results. This reference offers additional details on survey creation.
- How Key Drivers Help You Increase Customer Satisfaction: Many factors have an impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty. A Key Driver Analysis tells you what is most important to your customers and where to spend your money to get the greatest increase in customer satisfaction.
- Stay Focused on the Goal, Not the Counting: Many businesses have metrics they rely upon to track their performance against the goals of the company and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). However, just keeping score isn't enough. You have to identify and manage the activities that drive (or contribute to) the numbers.
- Understand Key Performance Indicators: Organizations establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor their progress against key goals and strategies. Identifying the proper KPIs is a challenging managerial task.
- Benchmark Customer Satisfaction: Benchmarking is the process of comparing your organization (or operations) against other organizations in your industry or, in the broader marketplace. You might compare your most successful competitor's customer processes and satisfaction with your own. Or, you might look at a firm outside of your industry known for remarkable customer service. Establishing a benchmarking initiative is an important component of measuring (and improving) your customer service and satisfaction.
- Make Sure Your Entire Team Is Managing Customer Satisfaction: While some departments are far removed from direct customer contact, every part of business influences overall customer satisfaction. This article offers several tips for engaging the broader organization and developing a "customer service" mentality.
- Try to Hear What Customers Aren't Saying: By nature, customers tend to focus their communications on a narrow list of issues around your product or services. It is important to develop the skills (and processes) to observe customers and to attempt to understand their true challenges and needs better. Those challenges (and needs) may be very different than what they are describing to you.