Aiming for customer satisfaction is not a good business objective today.
While Customer centricity has become the essential strategy for all businesses, and industries, too many aim for customer satisfaction rather than delight.
Why? Because it’s easier!
Now it is true that there are huge benefits to becoming more customer centric:
1. A positive customer experience has been shown to increase both loyalty and advocacy. It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one. Therefore, loyalty is an incredibly valuable benefit for a brand.
According to recent research by Bain & Company, increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits from 25% to 95%. According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%, compared to less than 20% for a new prospect. Clearly placing more attention on keeping our current customers satisfied brings greater rewards than going after new ones.
2. Adding value to a company also increases the ROI of its marketing investments. This is something that marketing is constantly challenged to prove these days. With the risk of seeing their budgets cut if they are unable to provide convincing arguments to their bosses.
3. Enabling differentiation in this complex world is invaluable in standing out from the competition. This can be done by the care you give your customers and the added value of your customer service. It has been shown that most customers are willing to pay more for excellent customer service.
However, I would add that what customers really want today is a seamless experience from pre- to post-purchase and from online to offline. That’s how you deliver not just satisfaction, but delight, as well as building loyalty and advocacy as well.
The Importance of Customer Satisfaction and Delight
There is no denying that customer-centricity is important. However, some companies are (too?) slow to adopt best practices in this area, which concerns me for a number of reasons:
1. It is vital for business. The longer companies hesitate, the more they risk being beaten by a more customer-friendly competitor. It’s no longer (just) about product performance.
Customers are complaining – a lot – about how they are treated. Why are companies not accepting these criticisms as the gifts they are? Acting promptly before the issue becomes a social media viral discussion is essential today.
2. Complaints are a great opportunity to not only satisfy but delight your customers too. If you manage to do this, they will certainly share their experiences and your image will benefit.
3. Customer service is confused with customer satisfaction. Companies are happy when their customers say they are satisfied, but they should be looking not just to satisfy them, but to delight them!
How to Deliver Customer Satisfaction and Delight
So what does a business need to do to deliver what their customers really want today and increase their level of satisfaction? There are seven facts that come from my analysis of the situation today:
- Businesses should always provide a positive customer experience and do whatever it takes to satisfy, but ideally delight them.
- Companies must go beyond the mere process of customer-centricity, to truly put their customers at the heart of their organisation.
- Customer centricity adds demonstrated value to a company; it should be a no-brainer to become a top business objective.
- Customer centric improvements are happening too slowly in most industries, especially when customers are becoming increasingly demanding.
- Providing customer service doesn’t guarantee customer satisfaction.
- A positive customer experience increases loyalty and advocacy.
- Excellent customer service enables differentiation and even higher prices.
In summary, people want businesses to listen and understand them.
When a customer takes the time to contact a company because they are unhappy, they expect a satisfactory outcome as a minimum. Those organisations who go beyond, to deliver delight, will see their reputation improve, as well as an increase in their customers’ loyalty and advocacy.
Customers also want companies to be open and transparent. They want answers to their questions and immediate responses to their criticisms. They have a right to know the ingredients’ source, their country of origin, the charities the company supports, or the organisation’s policies on waste, water and sustainability.
What customers really want today is to have their questions answered (almost) immediately, especially on social media. They expect things that go wrong to be put right – quickly, with an equally rapid explanation and apology.