Quality Assurance

3 Actionable Ways to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) is the North star metric for most customer service organizations. Happy customers spend more, and buy again, with 89% saying they’re more likely to make another purchase after a positive experience. Increasing CSAT scores increases customer loyalty.

At the core of good customer relationships is trust, and trust needs to be earned. Every time you do what you promise (deliver on time, give excellent service, offer a high quality product), you build trust. When you solve a difficult situation, such as a refund or complaint, to the customer's satisfaction, you build trust.

If you have a friend or colleague that you trust, you turn to them as your first port of call when you want support or advice. In the same way, customers who trust your brand will turn to you when they need a service like yours, and they’ll trust you to solve any issues that arise.

Building trust helps you gain good CSAT scores, and is a broad indicator of how likely a customer is to buy again, or talk favorably about your brand.

Besides, satisfied customers make excellent brand ambassadors. 

So how do you improve customer satisfaction levels? Here are three actionable steps to take.

1.  Solve Their Issue 

Great customer service is more important than ever, with 93% of service teams agreeing that customer expectations are on the rise. 

It sounds obvious, but the objective of all customer service is solving your clients’ problems. When they reach out to you, they expect you to make things right.  So what are the best practices you can implement to increase customer satisfaction levels?

Build email templates for everything 

Customers love email. 56% of customers rank email in their top three methods for communicating with a company. So it makes sense to maximize your team’s email use.

If your team is writing handmade answers for every query or problem, that’s precious time lost. Streamline the process by drafting emails for all the situations your team faces regularly, so they’re ready to grab and go. Now your customers will receive a clear and helpful response even faster.

You can write email templates to:

  • Let customers know you received their message

  • Ask for more information

  • Suggest possible solutions

  • Respond to feature requests

  • Reassure customers that you’re working on their problem

Email templates should be as clear as possible. Start with a relevant subject line such as “your customer support request” so customers don’t mistake them for marketing emails. Provide contact details and let customers know what to expect next.

Ensure email templates are on-brand with the correct logo and language. Pre-written emails in your brand tone help your agents send thoughtful, measured responses even when a customer is frustrated. They can tweak and personalize as needed, but they don’t have to figure out what to say from scratch, which can be challenging when a customer is angry.

As a next step, don’t forget to analyze how templates are being used and how they impact your productivity and CSAT.  

Identify recurring CS issues

Your team is going to see the same issues on repeat. Maybe several customers are running into the same bug, or maybe a specific feature keeps falling short of customer expectations. Listen to customer feedback to see where the most common problems lie.

When you capture these insights thanks to deep-dive quality assurance, you can share them with technical support, product design, and even marketing. Now everyone is on board with resolving those issues, to increase customer happiness in the future.

Use insights to look for snags in the customer support process, too. Keep an eye on speed of response to queries. How often and how quickly are issues resolved? How many times do agents solve the problem on first contact?

Empower your Customer Service agents

No one likes to hear the dreaded “I’ll need to check with my manager.” If you’ve heard that and felt frustrated, you’re not alone: 68% of customers get annoyed when their call is transferred between departments.  Being passed to someone else is a sure way to cause a drop in customer satisfaction levels.

Empower your customer service agents to handle a wide range of situations, even unexpected ones. Bake in the attitude that customer service isn’t a map to be followed the same way for every customer. It’s a suggested route, and agents can change direction if the situation calls for it.

Be clear with your team about what they’re allowed to do or offer on the road to resolving each customer’s issue. For example, can they offer a free month’s product subscription to apologize for a service outage? Can they offer a free upgrade to the next package?

Sometimes no matter how hard your team works, they’ll hit a problem they can’t solve. For example, in industries like banking, customer service agents have to follow a specific security process, and there’s no way around it.

If you can’t solve a problem, communicate that clearly and empathetically to the customer. Let them know you’re doing everything you can. Suggest possible next steps for them so they’re not left feeling like you’re washing your hands of their problem.

Train your agents to take responsibility for each query, and devote themselves to finding a resolution. A genuine apology and understanding can smooth ruffled feathers. Even when you cannot solve a customer’s issue, you can still leave them with a strong positive impression of your company.

2. Solve It Fast 

It’s no secret that customers hate waiting. They want replies and they want them fast: 90% of customers rate an immediate response as important when they have a customer service question. And keeping those customers happy makes good financial sense, with a 5% increase in customer retention leading to a 25% increase in profits.

If you want your team to solve issues faster, my first recommendation is to monitor these three key metrics:

  • Handling time: The time spent working to solve the ticket. This includes all time spent directly with the client on phone or chat.

  • First response time: How long your customers have to wait for an answer after they create the ticket.

  • Total time to solve: How long it takes from that initial request to the last resolution.

Now you’ve got those metrics, you want to focus on reducing them. How?

Prepare your CS agents to resolve issues from A to Z

Aim to have one agent handle each ticket from beginning to end. When the company culture is for agents to handle tickets from start to finish, you reduce the time needed for another agent to discover and understand the request, but this also means having a safeguard to avoid “cherry-picking”. 

Remember the importance of keeping customers in the loop while solving their problems. Agents should send regular updates, even if the update is a simple “I’m still working on it, and here’s what to expect next.”

Build up to 24/7 customer service

Maybe you don’t have the manpower for 24/7 service yet. But the more you can expand your customer service hours, the more your customers will benefit from being able to get help when they need it.

There are several options for scaling towards 24-hour service. You can use a pager system so there’s someone on call at all times. Or you can hire agents from a business process outsourcing company to provide additional support at specific times.

Consider establishing customer service teams in locations that you’re thinking of expanding to. They can provide support at the busiest times there. Remote teams can also set a tone and culture that fits with the local area, which is invaluable for building good customer relationships there. Local teams can also speak to customers in their local language. Local language support eliminates potential language misunderstanding and goes a long way to building customer trust. According to research, 75% of customers prefer to buy from businesses that speak their native language, and offering post-sales support is a crucial part of that purchase decision.

Leverage chat bots

Self-service is a growing trend in customer service. Chatbots are the ultimate way to help customers find the answers they are looking for, 24/7. A chatbot can start the preliminary steps in issue resolution, so your customers get help straight away. 

Bots can solve common queries so customers don’t need to wait for a live agent. You can train the bot to ask questions and offer solutions, before connecting to a live person.

And if the customer does need to chat to an agent, the bot can do the work of gathering initial information. Now the agent can start the call with key information to hand. This boosts customer satisfaction: 70% of customers say service agents’ awareness of sales interactions is very important to keeping their business.

By eliminating the common, repetitive requests, customer service agents also gain back valuable time they can use to help those customers that need a human touch. Not having to answer simple questions over and over again also helps boost agent morale.

3. Solve It With Love

True story: when my wife got pregnant, I was alone to take care of the house, a dishwasher was more than needed at this stage; and after a month of waiting for my delivery, turns out they didn't know when they would get resupplied! I explained the situation and they offered me a better machine, already available for shipping. 

Guess who just won a loyal customer and enthusiastic brand ambassador?

Never forget that behind every customer query is a real human being. Don’t underestimate the power of empathy, acknowledgement, and genuine care. Customers who rate a business highly for the emotional quality of their interactions are more likely to exhibit a range of loyalty behaviors.

Put caring for your customers at the heart of all your customer service interactions.

Start by respecting their time. Acknowledge their messages promptly and respond as soon as you can. Do all you can to cut down time spent passing them to other agents or departments, or escalating to managers.

Teach your agents to be active listeners. Show them how to help customers feel heard by listening without judgment or interruption. Respond with phrases like “what I’m hearing is” or “I understand you’re frustrated because”, to clarify that they heard correctly. 

When training agents, emphasize the importance of not making customers feel self-conscious about their problems. For example, never use phrases like “well if you just do x” or “if you’d done that before calling us”. Increase customer satisfaction levels by leaving them feeling validated and understood, not belittled.

Customers know when a business values them, and cares about them, so put your focus squarely on customer satisfaction first.

A combination of strong processes, empowered agents, and watching your metrics, gives you a solid foundation from which to build a caring, authentic customer service experience.