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While the type of customer may vary from business to business, the importance of the customer never does. With the internet at our fingertips, it is increasingly easier for customers to view and share information about a particular company in seconds. This is great news if a customer has a positive experience because they can communicate their thoughts instantly and promote how wonderful your company is for free. However, this isn’t such great news if you find yourself with a troop of unhappy customers. In fact, studies show that customers who have negative experiences are 3x more likely to tell their friends compared to those that have positive experiences. Another study by Vision Critical found that it takes 10-12 positive reviews to make up for one negative review and 80% of people won’t buy products or services from a company with negative reviews.

Here are 5 simple steps that you can follow to help increase customer satisfaction, improve renewal rates and receive more positive reviews.

Listen to your customers:

Although it may seem simple enough, not all companies truly value the feedback that their customers give. All too often companies release products and features that they think customers want without doing any real research. This ends up costing hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in wasted resources that ultimately doesn’t create any new revenue. If your customers take the time to fill out a survey, write a review or speak with an employee, the company should take the time to evaluate the information and determine the feasibility and plausibility of the request. Your customers use the products or services and know what they want. Take their insight seriously.

Empower employees to provide exceptional service:

Providing the right customer service can make or break a sale. According to Gartner, when it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price. That being said, if your employees aren’t trained on your companies products or protocols, they most likely won’t be able to provide the best support. Try implementing continuous training programs every few weeks or months to ensure that your employees are always up to date on new products and features. This process also ensures that your employees understand the type of customers they are catering too and are aware of any new procedures to handle customer situations as they arise.

Improve functionality and ease of use:

What’s worse than poor customer service? A product that’s so complicated your customers can’t even figure out how to turn it on. It shouldn’t take hours upon hours to configure settings to get the product up and running. Start by identifying where your customers are having a hard time and then work on removing those pain points as quickly as possible. Streamline the process so that its easy for your customers to go from one action to the next in as few steps as possible while exerting minimal effort. You might not be able to eliminate all of the pain points. But if you can focus on a few that make the experience less painful, you’re more likely to keep the customers coming back.

Clearly define your target audience:

If you don’t know who your customers are, there’s no possible way you can cater to their specific needs. Marketing to a sales professional is completely different than marketing to an IT professional because each persona has their own pain points they want solved. Your organization needs to decide whom you’re going to sell to, what you’re going to sell them, and what the messaging for that persona will look like. Start by analyzing your current customer data to determine who most of your customers are and what products/services they are buying. Once you can make sense of your customer data, you’ll have a much easier time pinpointing your ideal customer profile. Then you can create a plan to swiftly, and correctly, move them through the sales cycle.

Align your organization to optimize customer engagement:

The last piece of the puzzle is to make sure that your sales, marketing and operations teams are all on the same page. Clearly outlining what the customer journey looks like and benchmarking what optimal customer service and engagement mean to your company can help make these processes run more smoothly, increasing customer satisfaction and generating more revenue. One of the best ways to streamline your organization is to make sure your database is duplicate free, normalized and up to date so that it looks and reads the same across your organizations, CRM or Marketing Automation system.

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