As most business owners are fully aware, customers greatly value their experiences with the businesses. Modern day consumers like to feel connected with the brands they support in ways that were once unconsidered. Thanks to the advent of the internet, regular interactions occur between companies and their customers outside of the standard monetary transactions. Blogs, social media posts and the like are now as important as in-store experiences.
Of course, the in-store experience should never be overlooked as a top priority for store owners. As mentioned, it’s important to keep in mind that today’s customers value their experiences with businesses and often, they place more weight on those experiences than the actual products and services they receive. Therefore, all business owners should seek ways to increase customer satisfaction.
Here are three fruitful steps:
1. Conduct focus groups. There’s nothing quite like getting it straight from the horse’s mouth to know exactly what someone wants. You may want to take the opportunity to organize a focus group comprised of members of your target audience. Be sure to make it engaging and informative so that participants are happily willing to offer their sincere opinions about your brand and what can be done to improve it.
“Bring a group of customers together for an open-ended chat session,” suggests Ron Kaufman on UpYourService.com, “Set them at ease and get them talking about what they really like, don’t like and wish they could get from your business. Don’t defend, justify or argue. Just ask questions and take good notes. Follow up with a sincere ‘Thank you!’”
2. Take measures to learn from your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s not just an old adage or a cliché, it’s the truth. It’s also a very valuable way to better yourself, and in the process, better your business. There are bound to be instances when customers complain about products, services or customer service experiences they aren’t happy with. Don’t take them personally – but do take them to heart.
Be sure to implement appropriate changes based on what you hear. Kaufman agrees. “Every message from a customer presents an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction,” he writes, “Compliments show you what to reinforce, while complaints point to new ideas and action steps for improvement.”
3. Offer surprise bonuses and perks. Customers love feeling like they’re part of exclusive clubs. Reward your most loyal customers with bonuses such as free gifts, surprise discounts and gift cards. Even the smallest of gestures can have the biggest of impacts. On SocialTriggers.com, Valeria Maltoni explains that restaurants that participate in the simple act of offering free mints with the cheque at the end of each meal see significant rises in tip amounts for their waiters.
“Picture a restaurant that offers mints on the way out,” she offers, “Do you think customers will leave a bigger tip if the waiter left a mint with the check? How about 2 mints?…As you may have guessed, leaving a mint increased the tip size…For 1 mint, the tip was 3% higher. For 2 mints, it was 14% higher. And for the third scenario it was an amazing 23% higher. The surprise triggered the largest tip because customers didn’t expect it.”