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Understanding Customer Satisfaction

It’s indisputable: customer satisfaction (or CSAT) is directly affected by whether customer expectations were met. By meeting or exceeding customer expectations, companies are building relationships with consumers that lead to increased loyalty and high levels of customer satisfaction.   

Esteban Kolsky reported that if customers are not satisfied, 13% of them will tell an additional 15 or more people that they are unhappy. This has negative impact on how a business retains customers, and also influences their ability to gain new ones. Conversely, if customers are happy, 72% of them will share their positive experience with 6 or more people.

In order to meet (or exceed!) customer expectations, it is important to first understand customer satisfaction.

What Is Customer Satisfaction?

Customer satisfaction is a scale for measuring how well a company’s product or service meets or exceeds the customer’s expectations. It measures whether (or not) your products or services are satisfying what the customers need when they seek out your business.

Customer satisfaction is an important indicator for marketers and business owners when formulating marketing plans and making necessary improvements.

Customer satisfaction is also the leading indicator of customer retention and customer loyalty. For better or worse, customer satisfaction greatly affects the customer churn rate of a business (the rate of consumers who discontinue their relationship with the company). According to thinkJar, 66% of customers switch brands because of poor customer service.

Why Customer Satisfaction is an Important Focus for Businesses

Customer satisfaction is an indicator for businesses as to whether their products or services are doing well in meeting or exceeding expectations. By understanding customer satisfaction, you have a basis for understanding where you stand with your customers and if these relationships need something more.

It’s important to realize that dissatisfied customers aren’t likely to be vocal about it. According to Understanding Customers by Ruby Newell-Legner, businesses typically hear from only 4% of dissatisfied customers. Rather than bringing a problem to the company’s attention, customers will simply leave in search of a company with better quality customer experience.

What Affects Customer Satisfaction?

With the fluctuating demands of customers, figuring out which factors directly affect customer satisfaction can be challenging. By closely monitoring your customer’s behaviors and interactions with your business, the task of improving customer satisfaction becomes a little more manageable.

The following factors and touchpoints can have an affect on customer satisfaction:

  • Quality: If a customer receives a downgraded version of the products or services promised, satisfaction goes down.
  • Access: Thanks to numerous technological improvements in the digital age, customers expect easy access to everything. Businesses that don’t provide a high level of access to information about their company, products, and services.
  • Self-Service: According to Zendesk, 50% of customers think that they can solve issues on their own, therefore companies need to provide easy-to-use self-service information (70% of customers expect this).
  • Place (or the website for ecommerce): With ecommerce, a slow website with a distracting design will likely drive away online shoppers.
  • Staff: employees and staff are directly responsible for providing a positive customer experience. No customer should have to deal with unengaged, uninterested, or unhappy staff. According to data from American Express, customers are willing to spend more with companies they know will provide them with excellent customer support.

Understanding Customer Satisfaction

When it comes to understanding customer satisfaction, it’s vital to measure its effects on your company’s bottom line.

Dissatisfied customers usually do not take the time to tell you what they’re thinking, they usually just leave in search of a more quality experience — effectively ending the customer journey with your brand. Rather than waiting for them to voice their concerns with your business, companies should be the first ones to seek out this information by conducting customer satisfaction surveys, asking for feedback, and showing them that you care about their needs.

Use this information to provide them with better service and aim to go beyond their expectations. Having done that, maintenance is a matter of consistency.

<p>Maddy Osman creates engaging content with SEO best practices for marketing thought leaders and agencies that have their hands full with clients and projects. Read her latest articles on Twitter: @MaddyOsman.</p>