The term “customer satisfaction” traditionally measures how well a product or service fulfills the client’s needs. In today’s competitive landscape, customer satisfaction includes the entire purchase or service experience. It also extends to non-sale transactions involving a company’s customer-service or support associates.
Whether the customer has a positive or negative interaction with a business, they’re likely to share their opinion online, often on social media. Positive impressions can help attract new customers, while negative results (and negative reviews) can damage a company’s reputation.
At oil and gas industry leader Gulf Coast Western, customer satisfaction is vitally important. (Read on to learn eight successful strategies for achieving and maintaining good customer relationships.)
Why Is Customer Satisfaction Important?
EDITOR NOTE: This is a promoted post and should not be considered an editorial endorsement
Turning a prospect into a customer costs up to five times more than keeping an existing customer. The following are three reasons why keeping current customers satisfied is a cost-effective business strategy:
Happy Customers Become Loyal Customers
When customers are pleased with a product or service, they’ll return again and again. Repeat customers spend considerably more than new customers. Over time, repeat customers turn into loyal customers who refuse to even consider working with a competitor.
Satisfied Customers Generate Higher Lifetime Value
Loyal customers will generate income for the business over a longer period. This helps improve the company’s bottom line. In addition, this increases the customer’s lifetime value (CLV) to the business.
Loyal Customers Are Ideal Brand Ambassadors
Many people trust a friend or family member’s recommendations over any form of advertising. Happy consumers are eager to tell the world about their satisfying experiences.
These enthusiastic referrals are the best form of advertising or public relations a business can have. Gulf Coast Western highly values positive recommendations from its investors and partners.
Eight Tips to Increase Customer Satisfaction
When a client voices their opinions about their experience with a business, the company gains two benefits from this feedback: learning where they hit the mark, and where they fell short. With that knowledge, the company is well positioned to increase customer satisfaction levels. Here are eight proven customer-service strategies that will help improve customers’ overall service experiences.
1. Understand the Market
Every company conducts operations within a specific target market. Whether they are defined by geographic area or a different factor, those markets have certain characteristics. Each business should learn how its target market works.
The company should also learn about the businesses or consumers comprising that market. Detailed market research can provide much of that information. Focus groups may also play a useful role.
2. Develop a Better Product or Service
A business should always work to improve its product or service offerings. Based on customer feedback and reviews, a retailer may focus on adding more sizes or styles of a specific product. A service-based business, such as an accounting firm, might add payroll processing to its services list.
During the product or service development cycle, communication is important. If customers want features the business isn’t currently able to deliver, the company should advise the customers of the development time line.
Customers will appreciate regular updates, increasing their overall satisfaction. At Gulf Coast Western, customer communication is the company’s top priority.
3. Provide Multiple Support Channels
When customers can easily contact a business, they’re more likely to be satisfied. Some customers prefer to speak to an associate on the phone; others want to communicate through email or chat. Businesses that offer multiple communication channels set the stage for positive customer interactions.
Companies that operate outside traditional daytime business hours should ideally offer live customer support services any time they’re open.
4. Follow Customer-Service Ground Rules
Every company should set ground rules for customer interactions. When all customer-service associates respond in the same way, customers receive the same high standard of service every time. That drives customer satisfaction and plays a key role in building long-term relationships. This can be emphasized with these three tips, which should be part of every business’ customer-service training program:
Choose Positive Words and Phrases
Positive, encouraging words and phrases help create a favorable impression. Businesses should build a library of these desirable terms and work them into customer-service responses. A heartfelt “thank you” should be at the top of the list.
Actively Listen to Customers
When customers feel valued, they’re more likely to form a positive opinion of a business. Customer-service associates should be trained in active-listening techniques. By doing that, the company can learn what’s important to the customers, and the business can work to meet those needs.
Practice Consistent Transparency
When marketing products or services, honesty is always the best policy. The business shouldn’t make unrealistic product or service claims or commitments.
At Gulf Coast Western, transparency is standard operating procedure. The company’s marketing materials consistently stress this theme. Additionally, customer-service associates always deliver fact-based assessments of every investment or partnership opportunity. This commitment to transparency encourages positive reviews.
5. Deliver Personalized Attention
Each customer deserves personalized attention instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. To tailor its customer satisfaction program, a business should use names and order details in all interactions.
Some existing customers may have provided additional personal information, such as their birthday or favorite color. The business should use these details to provide the customer with a friendlier, more personalized interaction.
6. Actively Request Customer Feedback
Companies should proactively ask customers to provide feedback. When a customer makes a purchase, a service associate should ask what spurred them to buy and what the company can do to increase satisfaction.
When the business is considering a new product or service, asking for advance customer feedback helps ensure the new offering will be well received, also improving customer satisfaction.
7. Quickly Respond to Negative Reviews
Every company should immediately respond to negative reviews or complaints. Responding without delay enables a service associate to fix the issue and rebuild that customer relationship. In addition, the interaction provides an opportunity to improve relevant aspects of the company’s operations.
The service associate should do everything possible to resolve the customer’s concern. During the process, the associate should keep the customer updated. Afterward, the associate should tell the customer about the problem’s resolution.
8. Reward Customer Loyalty
To cultivate company loyalty, reward repeat customers. A retailer might provide a discount code or a free product. A service business might offer a discounted in-demand service. Even if a customer doesn’t use the loyalty reward, they will appreciate that the company values their business.
Improving the Company’s Operations
In addition to focusing on customer satisfaction, each company should develop an attitude of excellence throughout its operations. If leaders are dedicated to this approach, it will help raise the standard for everyone in the organization. At Gulf Coast Western, CEO and President Matthew Fleeger is committed to maintaining the company’s high standards in the oil and gas industry.
Create a Positive Company Culture
Businesses with a constructive, respectful work environment are more likely to attract high-quality employees. When these associates interact with customers, they effectively represent the company’s brand.
Prioritize Employee Satisfaction
When companies support their employees, those employees are more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs. This motivates them to provide better service. An employee-recognition program that delivers meaningful rewards is a good starting point.
Implement a Training Program
The company should devote the necessary resources to a customer-service training program. All customer-service associates should complete this training, ideally conducted by an industry expert. This will equip them to deliver the highest level of support to each customer.
At Gulf Coast Western, customers are the top priority. Besides intensive training operations and partnership opportunities, service associates learn about the importance of customer satisfaction. With this knowledge, they’re in an ideal position to help each customer enjoy the best possible experience with the company.
Equip the Team for Success
When a company provides its support team with top-tier customer-service training, these employees have the tools to provide superior service. Team members should be authorized to make their own decisions as they deliver an excellent customer experience.
Choosing the right employees for customer-service positions is crucial. With Gulf Coast Western’s strong customer focus, hiring managers recognize candidates who are committed to each customer’s well-being and satisfaction.
When a customer-service associate comes on board, they should be provided with the company and product knowledge needed to handle any situation. Trainers should conduct simulations so associates can confidently address and resolve each challenge. Over time, the company’s focus on excellence and customer satisfaction should minimize customer-service issues.