We’ve all been there…
You lose a big client contract and you start revisiting ways to improve customer satisfaction.
You try all the basic strategies like setting customer expectations and ‘going above and beyond’, but you still feel like it’s not enough.
This is a familiar case for many companies. The problem is you don’t have any actionable strategies to help you improve satisfaction.
Fortunately for you, I’ve just spent the last month interviewing 10 companies who have scored within the top 5% for customer satisfaction as rated by Client Heartbeat – a customer satisfaction tool that benchmarks over 300 companies against each other.
From the interviews, I’ve found each of the top companies all have three key characteristics in common. You’re about to learn these characters so you can implement them inside your company and start improving customer satisfaction and retaining more customers.
The first one is…
1. Focus on company culture
The highest ranking companies say that customer satisfaction starts from within. They embody an internal culture that funnels through to clients.
Often it is the managing director who leads from the front. They hire people that match their own personal values towards customer service.
All companies I interviewed have very high staff retention rates. One company literally hasn’t lost a staff member since 2005! That’s mightily impressive. Stability like this really helps to build strong relationships as customers know they are dealing with the same person every time.
The best companies put a focus on culture. They implement training programs around their cultural values to ensure everyone shares the same values and that they are consistently demonstrated when dealing with customers.
Action plan: how to create company culture the breed’s high satisfaction:
- Bring your team together and come up with a list of cultural values that are important to your company.
- Formalise these values and embody them with everything you do.
- Post them around the office so your team is reminded what you stand for and include them in your training of new employees.
- Create a culture where everybody lives and breathes the values. This will in turn rub off on your customer service and onto your clients.
2. Gather customer feedback
The best companies are always listening and adapting to customer feedback. It is not good enough to just listen to feedback, you need to use it to improve your processes and create a better customer experience.
Companies also integrate customer feedback into their meetings. They open up discussion with staff to bring up new ideas; both positive and negative. This is a great opportunity for everyone to bring up any red flags for clients. Use this open-format discussion to identify problem areas before they turn into potentially bad situations.
Customer feedback is not all about the customers. The best companies use it internally to boost staff morale. When a customer satisfaction survey comes back with 10/10 high scores, they share it around the office and give everyone a big congratulations.
One particular managing director jumps out into the middle office area and yells out the score and client. The team follows with a burst of applause.
Celebrating the success of happy customers is super important for these companies as it helps to keep the team focused on the goal at hand. This links back to company culture, the best companies want to deliver amazing customer experiences.
None of these companies had to force their employees to go the extra mile; it was just part of the way they deal with their customers, second nature.
Action plan: how to use customer feedback to boost satisfaction:
- Use a tool that continuously gathers customer feedback.
- Systemize customer feedback: Focus on listening to customers first, and then use feedback to make changes to improve processes.
- Celebrate successes with your team – reward staff who get amazing feedback and testimonials. This breeds a positive culture for everyone.
Related: 19 ways to gather customer feedback
3. Value personal relationships
Do you treat clients like friends?
The best companies do this to achieve high customer satisfaction. They treat every client relationship as if they were a friend. This is a real mindset shift and helps you and your team to embody the cultural values that builds strong, sticky customer relationships.
Face to face contact is also super important. These companies make sure to visit each of their clients once a quarter to touch base and go over a quarterly business review. This works really well because it gives you an excuse to say hello, learn more about your clients’ business and find ways to build more collaboration and offer more advice.
Partnership (collaboration) and advice are the cornerstone to high customer satisfaction — learn more about measuring satisfaction using Gallups theory.
In all the companies I spoke with, the managing director led from the front with the client relationships. They made it their responsibility to build personal relationships and touch base once a quarter. They didn’t designate it to someone else.
Why is this so powerful?
It shows that you care. Your clients know managing directors are busy people.
If you are willing to go out of your way to talk with a client, that’s a massive sign that you want to continue to build a strong, sticky relationship.
Action plan: how to build personal relationships to lead to high satisfaction:
- Start treating clients like they are your best friends. Start engaging with them and really try to understand what is important to them. Use this to build rapport and find areas that you can connect on a more personal level.
- Just like you’d go pick up your best friend at the bus stop, go out of your way to help your clients. That could be as simple as inviting them to a conference you know they’d get value out of… or sending them a link to a blog post you know they’d find useful. It’s the little things that friends do that create personal relationships.
- Your managing director must lead from the front. If that’s you… you can’t designate this task to someone else. If you’re serious about high customer satisfaction, this is an area you need to take responsibility and own yourself.
Now it’s your turn to become that next company that ranks highest for customer satisfaction
What’s holding you back from doing what these best in class companies are doing?
High customer satisfaction doesn’t need to be hard.
Neither is it some secret unknown formula.
Instead, it’s a simple process of implementing some actionable initiatives and strategies.
What are you waiting for?
Use the advice given here to start developing some customer satisfaction programs at your company.
Are you struggling to track whether customer satisfaction has improved or declined?
Try Client Heartbeat – we built it specifically for that problem.
Over to you: What strategies do you use? What’s the best way you achieve high customer satisfaction?