If you don’t satisfy your customers, your business won’t hold up. Happy customers lead to better business.
On the other hand, bad customer experiences have the opposite effect.
Approximately half of customers will switch brands after just one bad experience. More than one experience, and that number increases by roughly 60%.
Your first step in avoiding this problem is acknowledging your faults. As great as your organization may be, there’s clearly a large margin for error when customer satisfaction is the goal.
Luckily, there’s a science to this, and it doesn’t need to be complex. Follow along to get the 101 on measuring customer satisfaction.
What Is Customer Satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction likely doesn’t sound like a term that requires an explicit definition. However, the nuances can go deeper than merely satisfying customers.
In the business realm, customer satisfaction isn’t just a feeling. Customer satisfaction is a measurement quantifying to what degree a customer is satisfied with a product, service, or experience.
These measurements are the result of specific and collective brand interactions that can be interpreted in numerous ways.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of measuring customer satisfaction, you might want to get a bit more familiar with some of the concepts surrounding customer satisfaction.
The 3 Cs of Customer Satisfaction
The 3 Cs of customer satisfaction highlight the important factors in satisfying your customer base. But here’s the catch: the 3 C’s of customer satisfaction are consistency, consistency, and consistency.
If it isn’t obvious, maintaining consistency in your service is crucial. But this doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with the same product vision for the rest of your business’s lifetime.
Rather, you can ensure you're consistent in your service delivery via three distinct avenues: customer-journey consistency, emotional consistency, and communication consistency.
Here’s a breakdown of what these terms mean.
1. Customer-Journey Consistency
The customer journey describes the experiences customers go through when interacting with a brand and company.
Traditionally, the buyer’s journey includes three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.
Customer journey mapping in a digital space will look different. It may include paid ads or SEO traffic from your blog, social media channels, email marketing, and follow-up sales calls.
And if your business uses a software as a service (SaaS) model, there will also be two additional stages— retention and advocacy.
This is where buyers identify the challenge they’re facing. The potential customer may ask friends and associates for help and casually browse search engines for ideas.
At the consideration stage, buyers have a definite goal they want to achieve. They’ll begin researching solutions, often flocking to webinars, whitepapers, and blogs to gather more intel.
The decision stage is when the buyer is ready to make a purchase. In preparation, they will absorb case studies, compare vendors, and utilize free trials and demos.
Having purchased your service following the decision stage, the customer should be pleased with their investment.
But in order to guarantee customer loyalty, you need to give them the tools for success and constantly monitor their satisfaction with your product.
Here, businesses can offer the customer a knowledge base, training courses, or guides while using surveys, social media, and email campaigns to stay in the loop.
Ideally, the customer should become an advocate for your brand. Word of mouth goes a long way. Customers who like your service will create organic traffic for your business.
Though these stages may seem clear-cut, the biggest risk is that the collective experience of your customers is inconsistent.
Whether a blog article fell short of expectations or your sales lead didn’t bring their A-game on a follow-up call, these inconsistencies can jeopardize the customer experience.
Onboarding, for example, can be a critical part of customer retention.
Sometimes this involves a video walkthrough where a designated team member introduces a new client to the software they’ve just bought by explaining all the features.
If the team member neglects to give every customer a positive experience, then that will reflect badly on the company as a whole.
Customer-journey consistency is an integral predictor of customer loyalty and retention.
2. Emotional Consistency
Trust is one of the most effective drivers of customer satisfaction. Though it sounds cliche, loyal customers want a brand they can feel close to.
Trust in the context of consumer behavior, is when customers forgo problem-solving in turn for habitually seeking out solutions and products from your brand.
A trust environment where this reality exists depends on a few essential elements: (1) the interaction between the consumer and company; (2) the market environment in which these entities interact, including competitors; and (3) the political, social, technological, and economic parameters in which the market operates.
Generally, the only outcome you can directly influence is your interaction with the customer.
However, you can meet customer expectations by taking feedback from both happy and unhappy customers while consistently looking for opportunities to provide better value, both in your business and with your integrity.
3. Communication Consistency
Making sure that you keep the promises you’ve made is a top priority for communication consistency. But an even bigger priority is making sure customers recognize the delivery of those processes, which depends on active and ongoing communication.
For example, Southwest Airlines prides itself on being a no-frills, low-cost airline carrier. Not only does the airline routinely deliver on this promise but the company makes an effort to highlight when it delivers.
This isn’t the same as bragging. Instead, think of it as an acknowledgment of service. Nobody knows your brand like you do. Customers want to know that you take your business as seriously as the transactions they make to uphold it.
Model of Customer Satisfaction
The model of customer satisfaction is a useful diagram for realizing the equations that link perceived quality, perceived value, and customer expectations to customer satisfaction.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI), otherwise known as the leading national indicator of customer satisfaction, utilizes this model to illustrate the mathematical truisms of business success.
In fact, Claes Fornell, founder of the ASCI, maintains that “in competitive markets, firms are rewarded for treating customers well and punished for treating them badly.”
Though the idea behind such a quote isn’t complicated, this model can help you grasp exactly how the interactions between a customer and a brand influence one another.
How to Measure Customer Satisfaction
Now that you know the basic building blocks of customer satisfaction, you probably want to know if you’re truly making your customers happy.
The best way to measure customer satisfaction is through customer satisfaction surveys. There are a few different surveys that businesses rely on for viable customer satisfaction metrics.
1. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), also known as a Customer Satisfaction Rating, is the most common measure of customer satisfaction.
In this survey, customers rate their satisfaction on a scale. While there is no universal agreement on what scale there is, frequent contenders are 1-3, 1-5, 1-7, and 1-10.
Results should be added and divided by the total number of individual respondents.
CSAT is a great tool when you’re looking for a quick response based on a single customer interaction. Many support desks use a CSAT score to evaluate their performance.
2. Customer Effort Score (CES)
The Customer Effort Score is similar to the CSAT, but it measures ease of experience, not the interaction itself.
Customers enjoy experiences more when they are easy. And reducing customer frustrations is a strategic and functional way to increase customer loyalty.
A CES survey, in practice, will ask the customer how easy or difficult it was to solve their problem, with answers ranging from ‘Very Difficult’, ‘Difficult’, ‘Neither’, ‘Easy’, or ‘Very Easy.’
3. Net Promoter Score® (NPS)
The NPS measures how likely the customer is to recommend your company to a friend or colleague.
Usually, responses are measured on a scale of 0-10 from not at all likely to extremely likely.
Different teams use the NPS to make product improvements and optimize customer retention.
The channels you use for this survey as well as your target audience will also have an impact on the responses you receive.
Keeping Customers Satisfied
Though the methodology for measuring customer satisfaction seems simple, they represent valuable methodologies for collecting customer insights.
How you ask a question measures different variables, variables that will determine how well you’re satisfying customers.
There is much more to customer satisfaction than models and surveys, like working with customer satisfaction tools and learning how to improve customer satisfaction from the ground up.
Trio hopes this information will be of service moving forward, and our blog has similar resources to get your business on the right path.
Almost 80% of companies have failed to increase their customer satisfaction rate for more than a decade, from 2010-2021.
This doesn’t mean that you’re doomed, but customers are seeking above-average experiences, and most businesses aren’t delivering. You could be the outlier.