Improving the customer experience: Why it is paramount to success and what it really takes

Walt Disney once said, “do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”[1] In my 37 years’ experience in running businesses, I have found that this sentiment couldn’t be more true. Satisfied customers are key to maintaining business and building growth. In this article I share my insights on the importance of customer satisfaction and what it really takes to deliver.

From a marketing perspective, ‘customer satisfaction’ is a term that is used to measure how the products or services supplied by a company meet or surpass a customer’s expectations. It also provides marketers and business owners with a measure that they can use to manage and improve their businesses. From my experience, a customer’s experience is not simply related to the quality of project delivery, rather, it is a result of the combined interactions they have with the company. So, how then do we provide a good customer experience?

1. Employing the right talent and investing in your employees

Let us bring to the top the importance of employees in making the customer experience a good one. Unless you are a company of one, the importance of all employees believing, supporting and behaving with good work ethics cannot be overstated. From the management to the sales team, from the operations team to the administration team; all employees are representatives of the company and their actions affect the customer’s perception of the company. At times, some roles are simply not suited to a person and, as such, it is reliant on management to refocus their talents in a more appropriate direction. The inexperienced concept of threatening employees to perform will at best, result in mediocre temporary gains and low staff retention leading to unwanted company replacement costs and growth setback. It is through mutual respect and integrity that we need to focus. This is paramount.

Getting employees to invest in your company’s vision doesn’t simply happen through repeatedly (and persuasively!) telling them what that vision is. Employees need to be satisfied in their jobs to be the best cheerleaders for the company, after all, as pointed out by Gary Kelly (Southwest Airlines), “by treating employees well, you end up with a first-class workforce that will in turn demonstrate a good work ethic and great customer service”.[2] In my opinion, employee job satisfaction rests on how well the management of a company addresses the below contributing factors:

  • Respectful treatment of employees
  • Compensation and pay
  • Overall benefits
  • Job security
  • Trust between employees and senior management
  • Opportunities to use skills and abilities
  • Financial stability of company
  • Employee relationship with immediate supervisor
  • Safety in the workplace
  • Supervisor’s respect for your ideas.

It is important for management to set the standards and to embrace the need to empower employees by investing in training and creating a culture in which employees have the confidence and desire to ensure a positive customer experience. How confident are you of a positive reply if your employees were asked “Are you proud of your company and being part of it?”.

2. Focusing on project delivery and service

Studies have indicated that the greatest percentage of customers leave because they are unhappy with the service they receive.[3] It has been said that customers are more likely to leave or go to a competitor due to being dissatisfied with service, rather than with product or price.[3]

Customer satisfaction results in greater customer retention especially as a new customer is thought to cost as much as six to seven times more than keeping an existing one.[4] It is the leading indicator of consumer repurchase and loyalty. It has also been said that an unhappy customer may tell on average about 9 to 15 people which is a lot of people.[5] No company can afford to continually lose 15 customers a time from negative word of mouth.[5]

So what does great service look like? In my experience, it isn’t just about getting the job done effectively. There are a few other key areas to look at:

  • Create customer expectations: Under promise and over deliver. Always communicate in a timely manner and do not have them chase you. Deliver on time as promised.
  • Be the expert: Establish yourself and your company as the go-to person/people for advice.
  • Build trust through relationships: People prefer to do business with people they can trust. Trust is essential in business and working to build relationships will benefit from that trust. Be honest, respectful and act with integrity. Minimise mistakes.
  • Be proactive and not reactive: Rather than wait for problems to occur, set strategies or anticipatory services to eliminate problems before they happen. Make use of automation tools where possible to assist.
  • Introduce customer service KPIs: As the majority of customers leave because of poor service, set employee incentives around customer satisfaction KPIs.
  • Be courteous: Display manners and gratitude. Say “Thank You”.

In the daily never-ending quest to achieve sales growth with the complexities of reports and processes, the simple question of “are our customers happy” can easily be overlooked. At the very basic, we should just remember to treat our customers as we would like to be treated. If we can achieve a happy trusting working environment where passion is the rule not the exception, the flow-on effect to customer satisfaction and the resulting repeat business plus referrals will ensure the company’s long term prosperity.

Robert Guterres | Group Marketing Manager
Urmet Group in Australia
T: +61 7 3801 3555
E: robertg@urmet.com.au
W: www.urmet.com.au

 References:

  1. Eschenburg, A 2013, ‘4 customer service tips from Disney’, Salesforce, viewed 9 June 2017, https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2013/07/disney-customer-service.html.
  2. Thompson, J 2011, ‘Southwest CEO: Employee satisfaction delivers customer service’, McCombs Today, viewed 9 June 2017, http://www.today.mccombs.utexas.edu/2011/11/southwest-ceo-employee-satisfaction-delivers-customer-service.
  3. Reni, C 2014, ‘The one major reason customers churn and what you can do about it – Part 3’, CustomerGauge, viewed 9 June 2017, https://customergauge.com/news/major-reason-customers-churn-can-part-3/.
  4. Bain & Company in Shaw, C 2014, ’15 statistics that should change the business world – but haven’t’, Pulse- LinkedIn, viewed 9 June 2017, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130604134550-284615-15-statistics-that-should-change-the-business-world-but-haven-t.
  5. White House Office of Consumer Affairs in Shaw, C 2014, ’15 statistics that should change the business world – but haven’t’, Pulse- LinkedIn, viewed 9 June 2017, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130604134550-284615-15-statistics-that-should-change-the-business-world-but-haven-t.
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