Customer satisfaction

What does a customer satisfaction strategy look like?

September 11, 2020
Marc Thomas

A customer satisfaction strategy will help you by building a framework for your measurement and improvement of customer satisfaction scores. In this post, we'll help you write one!

Where there is no vision, the people perish – Proverbs, The Bible

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they’re thinking about customer satisfaction is to dive straight in and make changes all over the place without any real plan.

But as legendary baseball coach (and smart hüman) Yogi Berra said: ““If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.”

Let’s just take a moment and develop an outline of a customer satisfaction improvement strategy. It comes in three main parts:

  1. What would you consider to be high levels of customer satisfaction?
  2. How will you track customer satisfaction levels?
  3. How will you improve customer satisfaction?

This can be a really in depth exercise that you get the whole team involved in, or just part of it, but it can also be a simple exercise that you can complete with relative ease.

To make it as simple as possible, we’ve prepared a list of answers that typically get given for the above questions. You can copy them into a document and then delete or amend them as appropriate.

The goal here is to get you the basic outline of a customer satisfaction strategy. So let’s dive right in. If you want to write your own strategy document, that’s totally fine. Here’s an outline with some suggestions if you don’t want to:

Sample strategy outline

What would you consider to be high levels of customer satisfaction?

Hint: choose 1 from section A and one from section B to start with. Develop on this later.

Section A

  • We want to score above 60 on a net promoter score
  • We want to score above 70 on a net promoter score
  • We would like to achieve 4/5 stars on a star rating system

Section B

  • We want to see repeat purchases up by 15%
  • We want to see customer lifetime value increase by 30%
  • We want to see customer churn down by 5%
  • We want to see overall revenue increase by 20%
  • We want to see new revenue from referrals increase by 30%

Bonus: combine any of the above with time periods. E.g. track referrals month on month, track NPS score all time

How will you track customer satisfaction levels?

Hint: choose 1 from section A and one from section B to start with. Develop on this later.

Section A

  • We will send out a survey when a customer purchases
  • We will send out a survey when a support ticket is closed
  • We will send out a request for a testimonial 30 days after a purchase
  • We will ask a customer to fill out a short survey before they leave the store

Section B

  • We will track usage of referral codes on new customer accounts
  • We will segment turnover by new customers and existing customers
  • We will measure month-on-month churn rates (We will segment this by customers older than 12 months and newer customers)
  • We will add fields for customer lifetime value into our CRM

How will you improve customer satisfaction?

Hint: These will vary massively by industry and market segment. Get creative and decide what would be a truly delightful experience for customers in your business.

  • We will offer discounts to customers who purchase more than £xyz from us in a 30 days period
  • We will include preferential guarantee terms for X customer segment
  • Where relevant, we will try to meet our customers in person
  • We will resolve support request within x minutes
  • We will keep wait times in store below x minutes

The customer satisfaction lifecycle

Having done the above exercise, you should have a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve in your business now. So before we move on, let’s just look at this in the real world.

You’ll most likely be aware by now that customer satisfaction is not a linear process from a to b. Instead, it is a cyclical process – you will run through the process many many times (hopefully) before a customer ceases to be a customer. Here’s a typical version of that:

Sell the product – if you’re selling for the first time, include this customer in the ‘New Business’ segment or similar. If it is a repeat customer, you can update any recurring metrics that you’re tracking such as LTV.

Assess the product – Always ask for feedback within a reasonable time frame. Even if the customer has bought the exact same product before from you, there’s no guarantee that they are as satisfied on their second purchase. Send out a survey within 9 days to ask for feedback on your service. Here’s a simple template you can use to do that.

Ask customers how they're feeling – 30-90 days after a purchase, you’ll want to follow up with a customer to see how they’re getting on. Using the strategy you defined earlier, follow your answer to ‘How will you track customer satisfaction levels’ and take action. Then update your data sets to reflect customer satisfaction levels.

Make relevant changes – The changes that you have to make will depend hugely on your customer satisfaction insights from the previous steps in this cycle, but it may be that you need to provide a related service, refund a customer, increase the price (fingers crossed on that one), or something else. You should always stay close to your customer to ensure that this is happening.

Rinse and repeat! – When you’re done with this cycle, you should repeat it. If your customer isn’t ready to buy again on the cycle they’re currently on, have a conversation with them about any other needs that they may have. Doing this will a) delight them and make them feel valued and b) give you insight into how you can better satisfy their needs.

A quick aside

Is customer satisfaction a lag indicator?

Occasionally someone will criticise customer satisfaction – usually an academic who hasn’t run a business before – and say that it isn’t valuable as thing to track because it is a lag indicator.

This means that by the time you’ve managed to measure it it’s already too late to do anything about it.

As I hope you’ve understood by now, this is 100% not the case. While it’s true that you have to measure customer satisfaction after someone has already formed an opinion about your company, it’s not true that you can’t do anything about it.

In fact, if you take the approach we just outlined (cyclical) to customer satisfaction, you could have many more opportunities to use the lag indicators (there are also lead indicators within customer satisfaction which we’ll look at later) of customer satisfaction scores as opportunities to increase the value you provide customers.

And what will the effect be? More value to customers = higher satisfaction = increase all of the benefits we’ve already shown to your business.

Moving on

In the next section, we’ll take a look at the practicals of measuring customer satisfaction and over the next few articles in this guide, we’ll get you set up with a number of surveys that you can send out – we’ll provide you templates you can use in minutes.

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