The first is to establish appropriate expectations in the minds of customers. The second is to deliver on those expectations. We know that dissatisfied customers are likely to tell many more friends about their negative experiences than satisfied customers are about good experiences.
A story about met expectations—telling a friend about a night out that was average, for example—is boring. Influencers have new offerings to talk about, which are interesting topics, and other buyers want to know their opinions. Establishing appropriate expectations in the minds customers is a function of the prepurchase communications the seller has with them.
But if you set the expectations too high, you run the risk that your buyers will be dissatisfied. Customer-facing personnel are employees that meet and interact with customers.
In a hotel, this might include desk clerks, housekeepers, bellman, and other staff. In some organizations, employees are even given a budget for such activities. Sewell Cadillac is famous for how its employees serve its customers.
An employee will even pick up a customer up on a Sunday if a Sewell-purchased car breaks down. Other dealers might delegate such a service to another company, but at Sewell, the same salesperson who sold the car might be the person who handles such a task. Companies like Ritz-Carlton also monitor Twitter and other social media so that any problems can be identified in real time.
For example, one newlywed tweeted that the view outside her window of another wall was no way to spend a honeymoon. A Ritz-Carlton employee caught the tweet and employees at the hotel responded with a room upgrade.
Empowerment is more than simply a budget and a job description—frontline employees also need customer skills. Companies like Ritz-Carlton and Sewell spend a great deal of time and effort to ensure that employees with customer contact responsibilities are trained and prepared to handle small and large challenges with equal aplomb. Another customer satisfaction strategy involves offering customers warranties and guarantees.
Warranties serve as an agreement that the product will perform as promised or some form of restitution will be made to the customer. Customers who are risk-averse find warranties reassuring. Postpurchase dissonance is more likely to occur when an expensive product is purchased, the buyer purchases it infrequently and has little experience with it, and there is a perception that it is a high-risk purchase.
Many marketers address postpurchase dissonance by providing their customers with reassuring communications. Alternatively, the dealer could have the salesperson who sold the boat telephone the buyer to answer any questions he or she might have after owning and operating the boat for a couple of weeks. Buy a new boat, and the dealer is likely to engage in reassurance communications designed to reduce any postpurchase dissonance and enhance your satisfaction with the offering.
To measure customer satisfaction, you need to able to understanding what creates it. Yet many companies often measure the satisfaction of their customers on the basis of only a few questions: Effective customer satisfaction measures have several components.
Companies might break the offering into major components and ask how satisfied customers were with each. For example, a restaurant might ask the following:. These questions assume that each aspect of the service is equally important to the customer.
However, some surveys ask customers to rate how important they are. In that case, the survey can be shortened considerably. At the same time, however, space should be left on the survey so customers can add any additional information that could yield important insight.
For instance, a sample of customers could be given the opportunity to provide more detailed information via another survey and the two surveys could be compared. Such a comparison can help the company pinpoint aspects that need improvement. In addition, the company has given every customer an opportunity to provide input, which is an important part of any empowerment strategy.
When buyers want to complain about products or companies, they have many ways to do so. People who use every Internet site possible to bash a company are called verbal terrorists. Should companies worry about verbal terrorists? To measure the tradeoff between the two, customer satisfaction guru Fred Reicheld devised something called the net promoter score.
The net promoter score is the number of recommenders an offering has minus the number of complainers Reicheld, According to another recent study, a company with fewer complaints is also more likely to have better financial performance. Some experts have argued, perhaps jokingly, that if this is the case, a good strategy might be to make customers mad and then do a good job of resolving their problems.
Practically speaking, though, the best practice is to perform at or beyond customer expectations so fewer complaints will be received in the first place. Customers will complain, though, no matter how hard firms try to meet or exceed their expectations.
Sometimes, the complaint is in the form of a suggestion and simply reflects an opportunity to improve the experience. In other instances, the complaint represents a service or product failure. When a complaint is made, the process for responding to it is as important as the outcome. And consumers judge companies as much for whether their response processes seem fair as whether they got what they wanted. For that reason, some companies create customer service departments with specially trained personnel who can react to complaints.
Other companies invest heavily in preparing all customer-facing personnel to respond to complaints. Still other companies outsource their customer service. When the service is technical, marketers sometimes outsource the resolution of complaints to companies that specialize in providing technical service.
Computer help lines are an example. Technical-support companies often service the computer help lines of multiple manufacturers. A company that outsources its service nonetheless has to make sure that customer complaints are handled as diligently as possible. Otherwise, customers will be left with a poor impression. A good customer complaint handling process involves the steps listed below. A customer who is angry or upset due to a failure does not want to be patronized or have his or her problems taken lightly.
The situation is important to the customer and should be important to the person listening and responding to the complaint. Note that the complaint-resolution process involves communicating that process and gaining agreement on a solution, even if the customer sometimes might not like the outcome. He or she still needs to know what to expect. Finally, the complaint process includes recording the complaint.
This customer journey can span all elements of a company and include everything from buying a product to actually using it, having issues with a product that require resolution, or simply making the decision to use a service or product for the first time. Our most recent customer-experience survey of some 27, American consumers across 14 different industries found that effective customer journeys are more important: In addition, maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20 percent but also to lift revenue by up to 15 percent while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20 percent.
Our research identified three keys to consistency:. However, few companies can deliver consistently across customer journeys, even in meeting basic needs. Simple math illustrates why this is so important in a world of increasingly multichannel, multitouch customer journeys.
Assume a customer interacts six times with a pay-TV company, starting when he or she undertakes online research into providers and ending when the first bill is received 30 days after service is installed. Assuming a 95 percent satisfaction rate for each individual interaction—whether measuring responsiveness, the accuracy of information, or other factors—even this level of performance means that up to one in four customers will have a poor experience during the on-boarding journey.
The fact is that consistency on the most common customer journeys is an important predictor of overall customer experience and loyalty. Banks, for example, saw an exceptionally strong correlation between consistency on key customer journeys and overall performance in customer experience. And when we sent an undercover-shopping team to visit 50 bank branches and contact 50 bank call centers, the analysis was confirmed: Large banks typically faced the greatest challenge.
One of the most illuminating results of our survey was that positive customer-experience emotions—encompassed in a feeling of trust—were the biggest drivers of satisfaction and loyalty in a majority of industries surveyed.
We also found that consistency is particularly important to forge a relationship of trust with customers: What is also striking is how valuable the consistency-driven emotional connection is for customer loyalty. In a world where research suggests that fewer than 30 percent of customers trust most major financial brands, ensuring consistency on customer journeys to build trust is important for long-term growth. Southwest Airlines, for example, has built customer trust over a long period by consistently delivering on its promise as a no-frills, low-cost airline.
Similarly, Progressive Insurance created an impression among customers that it offered lower rates than its competitors in the period from to and made sure to highlight when it delivered on that promise. Progressive also shaped how customers interpreted cost-reduction actions such as on-site resolution of auto claims by positioning and reinforcing these actions as part of a consistent brand promise that it was a responsive, technology-savvy company.
In both cases, customer perceptions of the brands reinforced operational realities. Such brands generate a reservoir of goodwill and remain resilient on the basis of their consistency over time in fulfilling promises and their strong, ongoing marketing communications to reinforce those experiences. Becoming a company that delivers customer-journey excellence requires many things to be done well. First, take a journey-based approach.
For companies wanting to improve the customer experience as a means of increasing revenue and reducing costs, executing on customer journeys leads to the best outcomes. Since a customer journey often touches different parts of the organization, companies need to rewire themselves to create teams that are responsible for the end-to-end customer journey across functions.
While we know there are an infinite number of journeys, there are generally three to five that matter most to the customer and the business—start your improvements there. To track progress, effectiveness, and predict opportunities, you may need to retool both metrics and analytics to report on journeys, not just touchpoint insights. Second, fix areas where negative experiences are common.
Customer satisfaction is an abstract concept that basically measures the degree to which the products or services of a business meet consumers' expectations. Factors that can affect consumer.
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