Business owners know all too well that the so-called “age of the customer”—driven by technology that lets prospects compare options and prices—is here. Customers are more demanding: Forty percent of people say they are less patient now than five years ago, a recent survey found. More than half of buyers say they are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t anticipate their needs.
Moreover, business owners must be prepared for the modern customer’s massive ability to influence. It’s a marketing axiom that happy customers spread the word to two to three people, while unhappy ones tell 10 people, says Stefan Captijn, senior director of strategic marketing at customer experience solution provider Genesys. “With social media, the reach of promoters and detractors is a wider playing field than ever before,” he says.
All of which makes learning to measure customer satisfaction key to success for any business. Of course, the most obvious place to check is your cash register. “One of the best ways to measure your customer service and satisfaction is to watch the revenue,” says Nancy Friedman, president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training in St. Louis. “Up is a great sign. Down could indicate a growing issue.”
True enough, but you may want to get ahead of a potential problem before it hits your pocketbook. If so, consider these four low-cost, high-impact customer satisfaction measurement methods:
- Quiz customers. Inexpensive online survey tools such as SurveyMonkey or Typeform let you poll customers on any angle of satisfaction you like. One simple and minimally intrusive approach is to figure your Net Promoter Score by posing one question: “How likely is it that you would recommend (your company) to a friend or colleague?” Score answers 1 (least likely) to 10 (most likely).
- Ask your data. Just about any accounting software, including popular choices such as QuickBooks and FreshBooks, can provide reports to help assess satisfaction. Knowing the rate of customer turnover, or churn, is particularly useful. If more customers close accounts, cancel subscriptions, fail to make repeat purchases or otherwise stop buying your offering in a year, quarter or season, suspect falling satisfaction. Another indicator in rising or falling trends measure is revenue per customer. (Check your software company’s support page and contacts for information on how to get these reports.)
- Track service and support activities. Business telephone and call-center software solutions such as RingCentral and Zendesk can provide key metrics such as how long it takes to handle each ticket and the number of interactions with service and support before problems get resolved.
- Monitor social posts. What are people saying about you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn? Run a simple search for your company or product name using social platforms’ built-in search functions to get an idea of how well you are satisfying customers.
The simplest and most accessible way to get a feel for customer satisfaction is simply to check your warm and fuzzies, maintains Wes Higbee, owner of Full City Tech consulting in New York City.
“Each week I take a few minutes to think about how I was thanked in the last week and what I can do this week that might garner thanks,” Higbee says. “Legitimate ‘thank yous’ are the best way to gauge customer satisfaction.”
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