Customer satisfaction, a business term, is a measure of how products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectation. It is seen as a key performance indicator within business and is part of the four of a Balanced Scorecard.
In a competitive marketplace where businesses compete for customers, customer satisfaction is seen as a key differentiator and increasingly has become a key element of business strategy.
There is a substantial body of empirical literature that establishes the benefits of customer satisfaction for firms.
Customer service plays a large role in customer retention.
But the modern era of low margins per customer or per sell, make quality customer care the challenge of the information age.
Organizations need to retain existing customers while targeting non-customers. Measuring customer satisfaction provides an indication of how successful the organization is at providing products and/or services to the marketplace.
Customer satisfaction is an abstract concept and the actual manifestation of the state of satisfaction will vary from person to person and product/service to product/service.
The state of satisfaction depends on a number of both psychological and physical variables which correlate with satisfaction behaviors such as return and recommend rate.
The level of satisfaction can also vary depending on other factors, such as other products against which the customer can compare the organization’s products.
It’s a well known fact that no business can exist without customers. In the business of Website design, it’s important to work closely with your customers to make sure the site or system you create for them is as close to their requirements as you can manage.
Because it’s critical that you form a close working relationship with your client, customer service is of vital importance. What follows are a selection of tips that will make your clients feel valued, wanted and loved.
1. Encourage Face-to-Face Dealings
This is the most daunting and downright scary part of interacting with a customer. If you’re not used to this sort of thing, it can be a pretty nerve-wracking experience.
Rest assured, though, it does get easier over time. It’s important to meet your customers face to face at least once or even twice during the course of a project.
My experience has shown that a client finds it easier to relate to and work with someone they’ve actually met in person, rather than a voice on the phone or someone typing into an email or messenger program.
When you do meet them, be calm, confident and above all, take time to ask them what they need. I believe that if a potential client spends over half the meeting doing the talking, you’re well on your way to a sale.
2. Respond to Messages Promptly & Keep Your Clients Informed
This goes without saying really. We all know how annoying it is to wait days for a response to an email or phone call.
It might not always be practical to deal with all customers’ queries within the space of a few hours, but at least email or call them back and let them know you’ve received their message and you’ll contact them about it as soon as possible. Even if you’re not able to solve a problem right away, let the customer know you’re working on it.
3. Be Friendly and Approachable
A client once told me that you can hear a smile through the phone. This is very true. It’s very important to be friendly, courteous and to make your clients feel like you’re their friend and you’re there to help them out.
There will be times when you want to beat your clients over the head repeatedly with a blunt object - it happens to all of us. It’s vital that you keep a clear head, respond to your clients’ wishes as best you can, and at all times remain polite and courteous.
4. Have a Clearly-Defined Customer Service Policy
This may not be too important when you’re just starting out, but a clearly defined customer service policy is going to save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. If a customer has a problem, what should they do? If the first option doesn’t work, then what!
Should they contact different people for billing and technical enquiries? If they’re not satisfied with any aspect of your customer service, who should they tell?
There’s nothing more annoying for a client than being passed from person to person, or not knowing who to turn to. Making sure they know exactly what to do at each stage of their enquiry should be of utmost importance.
So make sure your customer service policy is present on your site -- and anywhere else it may be useful.
5. Attention to Detail
Have you ever received a Happy Birthday email or card from a company you were a client of? Have you ever had a personalized sign-up confirmation email for a service that you could tell was typed from scratch? These little niceties can be time consuming and aren’t always cost effective, but remember to do them.
Even if it’s as small as sending a Happy Holidays email to all your customers, it’s something. It shows you care; it shows there are real people on the other end of that screen or telephone; and most importantly, it makes the customer feel welcomed, wanted and valued.
6. Anticipate Your Client’s Needs & Go Out Of Your Way to Help Them Out
Sometimes this is easier said than done! However, achieving this supreme level of understanding with your clients will do wonders for your working relationship.
7. Honor Your Promises
It’s possible; this is the most important point in this article. The simple message: when you promise something, deliver.
The most common example here is project delivery dates.
Clients don’t like to be disappointed. Sometimes, something may not get done, or you might miss a deadline through no fault of your own.
Projects can be late, technology can fail and sub-contractors don’t always deliver on time. In this case a quick apology and assurance it’ll be ready ASAP wouldn’t go amiss.
Customer service, like any aspect of business, is a practiced art that takes time and effort to master. All you need to do to achieve this is to stop and switch roles with the customer. What would you want from your business if you were the client?
How would you want to be treated? Treat your customers like your friends, make sure they are satisfied with the services you are offering them and they’ll always come back.