Customer satisfaction is the way that customers feel towards your business and whether they’re, well, satisfied by their experience with you.
Understanding the level of satisfaction that customers have for your business is important because it helps you understand what you’re doing right, as well as show you areas of your business that need improvement to ensure that you can always meet customer expectations.
Read on to discover tips from HubSpot service experts about the different ways you can ensure — and increase — customer satisfaction.
20 Ways to Increase Customer Satisfaction
1. Understand your customers.
The most important strategy for ensuring customer satisfaction is understanding your customers. How can you satisfy your customers if you don’t know who they are? If you don’t know their needs and pain points, how can you create a product or service that helps them resolve their challenges?
Understanding your customers begins with customer profiling, where you identify their purchasing behaviors, pain points, demographic information, and critical characteristics to get a better sense of who they are. With this information, you can provide superior customer service that is delightful and speaks to their exact needs.
2. Create a customer-centric culture.
A customer-centric culture means that every team and department works to foster a positive customer experience. When everyone does their job duties with the customer in mind, they are constantly solving for the customer and working to satisfy their desires and satisfy them.
For customer support, this means that all of your support practices are centered around the customer and providing satisfying experiences, like:
Offering customer loyalty programs that are based on actions customers commonly take with your business so they don’t have to take extra steps to meet loyalty tiers
Creating help-desk articles that use clear and easy to understand language so the customer can understand instructions
Acting on customer feedback when they directly tell you their level of satisfaction with your business and provide areas of opportunity for improvement and growth.
3. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.
Rebecca Wong, Senior Customer Support Specialist, says “Putting myself in the shoes of the customer to anticipate follow-up questions helps me answer FAQs before they ask!”
Wong gives an example that, if she’s explaining a solution involving exporting contacts, she foresees that newer customers don’t always know the steps to do that, so she sends over a gif or short video to illustrate the steps for the customer to follow.
In addition, when you place yourself in the customer's shoes, you’re leading with empathy and understanding of the customer and their individual needs, which is another critical factor to ensuring customer satisfaction.
4. Lead with empathy, always.
Leading with empathy is a pillar of all service practices, especially customer satisfaction, as it helps you show customers that you’re on their side and working to help them succeed.
Empathy is especially critical during tough customer interactions, as the way you show support when a customer is struggling or frustrated demonstrates your level of care for them. Jessica Garcia, Customer Success Manager, says “Empathy when a customer is frustrated or seeking assistance…if the situation escalates, I always remind myself that the people won’t remember what you said but they will remember how you made them feel.”
Considering that 50% of customers say they would switch to a new brand after one single bad experience, leading with empathy is always a best practice.
It's the only way you’ll know how they feel, and Chloe Christiansen, Customer Success Manager, champions this tip: “I really like giving customers the option to give feedback to better understand the experience they are having with me, other internal teams, or our actual product.”
In practice, Christiansen gets feedback from surveys, beta opportunities, or meetings, and says “Initiatives like Voce of the Customer or Product Roadblock can help [customers] make sure their voice is heard.”
A BrightLocal survey found that 68% of customers were willing to provide feedback, so it’s worth asking for it.
6. Act on customer feedback.
What’s the feedback you receive worth if you don’t analyze it and use it to understand your successes and shortcomings? Just as important as it is to ask for feedback, it’s also critical to act on it when you receive it.
When you learn more about your customers’ experiences, you can apply your findings to your operations to ensure you continue the measures that serve you well and improve the ones that leave customers unsatisfied.
53% of shoppers believe that their feedback doesn’t actually go to anyone who can act on it — prove them wrong.
7. Give your support teams everything they need to succeed.
A critical factor for ensuring customer satisfaction is providing your support teams and reps with all of the resources they need to satisfy your customers. When they have everything they need to help, and they have everything they need to show up for every single customer, regardless of their issue.
This encompasses everything from comprehensive on-the-job training during onboarding, opportunities for further development, and performance feedback, as well as the everyday resources they need on the job, like access to a phone to answer calls or roadmaps for escalation protocols if a customer gets frustrated.
8. Respond to customer reviews.
Responding to customer feedback increases satisfaction because it shows customers that you listen to what they have to say about your business instead of simply seeing them as a name on a receipt. You take interest in their thoughts about your business, and you interact with them as well.
You also need to respond to negative reviews, despite how nice it would be to ignore them — customers are 1.7x more likely to visit your business if you respond to negative reviews.
9. Make it easy for customers to get in contact with your business.
The easier it is for customers to get in contact with you, the higher your customer satisfaction levels will be. For example, if a customer wants to place a return and can easily navigate to a returns page on your website, they’ll take less time to return a product and be satisfied with a refund or exchange.
One of the best ways to make it easy for your customers to get in contact with you is to offer omni-channel customer support.
10. Provide omni-channel support.
Omni-channel customer support is when your business offers support across multiple different channels, platforms, and devices. This increases customer satisfaction because you offer the option to initiate conversation with your business on multiple different channels, allowing them to pick their preferred form of outreach.
For example, you can provide customers the option to message your business on Facebook messenger, use a self-service knowledge base, a chatbot on your website, or place a phone call.
11. Respond quickly.
Customers are always looking for fast solutions, so ensuring your support teams always respond in a timely manner is crucial to satisfying that desire. Ensure that your teams focus on being efficient with their time, and one of the ways to do this is to use automation when necessary.
For example, if someone reaches out with a question about your open hours, you can create a chatbot that sends an automated response so they don’t have to wait for a live agent. This also helps your human reps focus on and respond quickly to more pressing issues.
Omni-channel support, discussed above, also helps your support reps to respond quickly, as there are multiple different areas or points of contact so customers don’t have to wait on one channel.
12. Provide proactive support.
Proactive customer support is when you make the first move towards helping your customers succeed before they reach out to you for help or even anticipate needing help.
It shows customers that you want them to be able to solve their pain points with your products or services — “Proactively sharing resources and insights… is a way to show them we care,” says Mauricio Aragon, Senior Customer Success Manager.
Essentially, you’re offering solutions to customer queries or problems that haven’t happened yet so, if they do arise, the tools they need are already available. For example, if you sell products in an online marketplace, you can create a “Products You May Like” section where you make recommendations that may supplement a customer’s experience with what you offer.
13. Practice active listening.
Active listening is when you give your full attention to a customer so they know you’re listening, interested in what they have to say, and genuinely taking in the information they’re sharing with you.
Aragon likes this tip as well and says it is especially important during tough situations: “Practicing active listening through strategic calls is useful, especially when customers are frustrated and seeing roadblocks. Communication is key to understanding problems and finding solutions, and most of the time customers want to be heard.”
14. Create customer loyalty programs.
Customer loyalty programs are a great way to show appreciation and ensure satisfaction as you’re rewarding customers for continuously doing business with you. These programs are also a form of proactive customer service, as you’re giving special offers and discounts that will enhance and supplement the customer experience.
Research shows that 68% of loyal customers will join a loyalty program if offered, so it’s worth considering for your business.
15. Personalize your customer service.
Ensuring customer satisfaction also means personalizing the service experiences customers have with your business. This looks like understanding their individual history with your business so you can best speak to their needs, or doing something like sending a “Happy Birthday!”
Garcia champions this tip and says, “Tailor your message to the person you are speaking to and consider their motivations/goals to make sure the meeting is most productive and valuable for everyone that attends.”
To practice this, you can use a CRM, like HubSpot Service Hub, to keep track of critical customer information and interaction history. This makes it easier to understand their relationship with you, and approach all conversations in a way that is personalized to their exact needs.
16. Offer customer self-service.
Customer self-service is when customers can complete a task or find a resolution on their own without a support rep. It’s a form of proactive customer service, as you’re anticipating that some customers that want to come to resolutions without contacting anyone.
Offering self-service solutions can look like a knowledge base on your website (which is consumers' preferred form of self-service), self-guided onboarding materials, or instructional product videos.
69% of consumers try to solve their issues on their own, but less than one-third of companies actually offer self-service solutions — be the outlier.
17. Be honest about missteps and failures.
Hearing from customers about a glitch, technical error, or any type of bad experience with your business can feel disheartening. It's also discouraging for customers as they likely want to hear from you first about any lapses your business is experiencing.
Because of this, ensuring customer satisfaction looks like owning up to missteps and failures when they occur and being honest with your customers. By taking responsibility, you show that you’re authentic, you genuinely care about your customers' experience with your business, and you’ll generate trust with your audience for being honest.
Considering that trust is a critical part of a customer's choice to do business with you, this is a critical tip to consider. And, it will pay off, given that 78% of consumers will do business with a company again after a mistake if they provide excellent customer service.
18. Conduct market research.
Other competitors in your industry likely offer similar products to yours, so there may be very few points that a customer considers when deciding between two businesses. As a result, conducting competitive analysis and studying your market and its methods can be a valuable tool for increasing customer satisfaction.
If there are areas where your competitors are falling short, you can use these areas to your advantage and ensure your business addresses them.
19. Clearly explain your role in helping customers succeed.
Telling your customers how you’ll help them along your journey with your business is a great way to keep them satisfied. Customers will know exactly what to expect from you and that they can reach out to you for help if needed, as opposed to wondering which direction they should go in to get help.
Garcia says, “I always make sure to set clear expectations about my role and help customers to understand all of the support options available to them so they can get the most out of their experience.”
20. Always establish clear next steps.
Establishing clear next steps helps ensure customer satisfaction because, according to Alex Schneider, Customer Onboarding Specialist, “This helps remove ambiguity and confusion from the customer and prevents them from having to backtrack too far.”
They know what the next step in their process is, whether it’s who will help them continue onboarding or the next step in the process for upgrading their subscription.
Go Above and Beyond to Improve Customer Services
Leveraging the tips on this list will help you go above and beyond for your customers, creating delightful experiences and positive perceptions of your brand — both of which contribute to customer satisfaction.
Originally published Mar 30, 2022 6:45:00 AM, updated March 30 2022