What is Customer Satisfaction?

At face value, the concept of customer satisfaction seems pretty simple: make sure the folks who frequent your place of business are happy. In reality, though, it looks less like a statement of fact and more like a complicated math equation with many different variables affecting the actual outcome. And while some aspects of satisfaction are measurable, others are less so, requiring keen interpersonal skills and the ability to read between the lines. So, exactly what is customer satisfaction and how can having a clear picture of it increase the success of your business?

Let’s dive in. 

What is Customer Satisfaction?

While happiness is a step on the ladder to creating true customer satisfaction, Hubspot more clearly defines the sheer number of factors that can play into actually calculating a number from qualitative data: 

“Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is a metric used to quantify the degree to which a customer is happy with a product, service, or experience. This metric is usually calculated by deploying a customer satisfaction survey that asks on a five or seven-point scale how a customer feels about a support interaction, purchase, or overall customer experience, with answers between “highly unsatisfied” and “highly satisfied” to choose from.”

Clearly, satisfaction goes far beyond whether or your customer is happy with their purchase. Instead, it should take into account every common scenario that a consumer would experience on their journey from just beginning to take interest in doing business with you to the day they make their last transaction.

Measuring the (Seemingly) Unmeasurable

A satisfaction survey is a business owner’s best friend. If your customers are honest in their answers– and most of them will be brutally honest– you now hold the key to shaping up your ability to fulfill the wants and needs of the people who help keep your doors open. 

Much of the value of surveying comes from the fact that they outline very clear trends that can be turned into a strategy for improving the health and happiness of your business. 

For business owners who tend to internalize every customer experience, both positive and negative, as a personal offence, the idea of asking people to critique your business can feel daunting. Moving past that feeling and recognizing that all data is good data will help you make the most of any results that you get, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. 

Let’s look at an example:

A local barbershop decides that they are going to see how it is fulfilling the customer’s needs. They ask every person who comes in to fill out a 10-question survey that includes demographic data such as how often they come in and how long they’ve been frequenting the shop. 

After gathering information from 20 customers, all of whom seem relatively pleased, the owner notices that there is a low score for the question, “How satisfied are you with the overall atmosphere and ambience of the shop?” While this is probably not an issue that would make a person who is happy with the results of their visits stop coming in, it very well could stop them from suggesting the shop to others. It is now the owner’s job to take that information and do something with it! Something as simple as changing the music or adding shelves for people to store their personal belongings could move a customer from “a little unsatisfied” to “completely satisfied.”

Take Action, Create Promoters

It can cost a business up to 5x more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain a loyal one. Better yet, a loyal customer is 4x more likely to refer and 5x as likely to forgive an uncharacteristic mishap than one that is unsatisfied with your business. 

Listening closely to what your customers have to say about what your business does right and what it does wrong can help you increase your NPS, or Net Promoter Score. That means that more people are enthusiastic about your products or services, and are willing to tell others about it. 

It can save you a lot of money in the long wrong, helping you create a base of “business evangelists,” who are willing to spread the word to friends, family, and neighbors about the difference you make in their lives. 

Your business exists because of your customers. There is a lot of competition out there, but they chose you. Choose them back by ensuring that you give them the kind of experience that encourages them to come back time and again, with a smile on their face and a new friend in tow. What you spend on small changes, training, and going the extra mile will pay back dividends in the form of a self-sustaining, successful business. 

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