Originally posted on Biztorming by Luciana Paulise
Customer is king, but do customers actually feel like they are kings?
That’s’ a very good question. Poor customer service cost companies billions of dollars every year. And sometimes owners don’t even know about it. Customer satisfaction is hard to measure, but it I not impossible. Repeat sales, customer loyalty, recommendation to friends and customer claims are key performance indicators. While you can try to measure them, you need to focus on how to improve them.
To increase customer satisfaction, you need to work on the 5 key aspects they value most: the product itself, the user, due care, customer service and finally the personnel.
- The product itself: The consumer is the most important part of the production line. Customers are the ones that put our company into business, they buy our products, so products need to be suited to them, that’s why Deming, the famous statistician would say that the consumer was the most important part of the production line. He would also say that it is easy to go broke making the wrong product or offering the wrong service. Companies need to increase value through products and services that delight customers, because profit and growth don’t come from the satisfied customer: Satisfied customers switch, for no good reason, just to try something else. They come from the loyal customer. He requires no advertising or persuasion, and he brings a friend along with him.
- User: Customer surveys and mystery shoppers are great tools to get to know the voice of your customer. Demands vary from year to year and from market to market, so it is necessary to study customer requirements deeply through Statistical methods such as run charts or scatter diagrams to determine the type pf product that will sell as it links studies of the consumer preferences with the design of products, improving competitive position. Top management then must bring design and customer research together. After starting a project and gathering VOC (voice of the customer) data, it is time to define the critical-to-quality outputs. To prioritize their actions during this process, practitioners may use a quality function deployment (QFD), also known as the house of quality. There are also new tools and methodologies to get the VOC faster and cheaper.
Social networks: using Facebook, twitter, Instagram, blogs and other networking tools to promote your business, you can not only engage your audience and let them know what you are up to, but you can also get the their insights, depending on the number visits, likes, favorites and comments.
All ears Personnel: employees are one of the best source of information in regards to customer desires. They should be trained not only to assist the customer but also to listen to them and communicate their needs to upper management.
Pilot tests: many Entrepreneurs are already into it to develop new products. The most successful startups are applying the Lean startup methodology , which focus on WORKING SMARTER NOT HARDER, that is experimenting with your product as you soon as you have a first version and letting your early adopters test it for you, telling you what they like and what they don’t. A core component of Lean Startup methodology is the build-measure-learn feedback loop. The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to offer the customer in order to begin the process of learning.
- Due Care: How the user uses the product is important. If the user doesn’t understand it, or doesn’t know how to take care of it, it can reduce his loyalty. Market research can also be used to understand how the product is used, installed and how it is taken care of. Instructions for use of the product and warnings on miss use are part of the records that establish the amount of care taken on the part of the manufacturer.
- Customer service: Deming would also say that “No one can measure loss of business that may arise from a defective product that goes to a customer”, that’s why quality of the products are so important. Quality of the products needs to be taken care of to avoid customer complaints and frustration. In the case the defective product goes to a customer, the company needs to take serious action. There must be a customer service department to help customers to use the product, to assist them if it is broken or to receive complaints about defects.
- Trained personnel: Front line employees in charge of customer service should be trained to be able to help the customer and provide information to improve the products, as they need to make customers come back, not their products. Front line employees are usually the less trained, the new ones in the Company, but they are also the first contact of the customer. They should be better trained than anyone on describing products and providing excellent service. They key from great companies is that they don’t only focus on the front line employees but also make sure everyone in the Company appreciates the customer, from the accounting department to the cleaning services. Answers like “ I am not in charge”, or “That’s not my business” should be banned. The customer should be the King no matter where you work.
Happy customers who get their issues solved tell 5 people about their experience, but a dissatisfied customer will tell 11 people about their experience
Any contact with the customer should be an opportunity to drive satisfaction. Several researches show that happy customers who get their issues solved tell 5 people about their experience, but a dissatisfied customer will tell 11 people about their experience. So always remember, the key to business success is keeping your customer satisfaction rates higher than your competition!