Do you know if Your Customers are Happy?

“Our greatest asset is the customer! Treat each customer as if they are the only one!” – Laurice Leitao

Any business should be able to retain its customers for the longest time. Customers that have been with a company for a longer time are profitable, easier to upsell, less price sensitive, and trust the company. Constantly acquiring new customers due to high customer churn is a poor way to do business, and no company could survive very long, doing this. Customers stay only when they are happy – consistently – with a company’s products and service. While keeping them happy may not be easy, the good news is that there are ways to know if your customers are happy. These ‘happy ones’ become a driving force for any business and data shows that they have helped companies become hugely successful. One of the biggest obstacles however, for any company to keep customers happy is disconnect between what customers consider great service versus what the company may be providing. Companies may believe that their customers are happy, but in reality, their customers may already have one foot out the door – owing to several reasons.

Companies seem to believe, erroneously so, that great marketing and promotions are a great way to keep customers pleased, even though their business may not be at par with what customers expect. The fact is that if customers are not happy, or do not trust your business, or have consistently had poor experiences with it, no promotion or marketing activities would suffice or ‘cure’ the dissatisfaction. On the contrary, if a company does nothing to alleviate their distrust and annoyance, such marketing activities would further irritate and annoy customers, moving them further away, faster. Does your company know if its customers are happy? If yes, what are the factors that help it determine genuinely satisfied customers from ‘ones waiting in the wings for better offers’? Highly pleased or extremely irate customers are very easy to spot. The problem however, is that the percentage of these customers is a lot lower than the ones ‘in the middle’. It is not easy to ascertain how and what these customers feel about the company, but these customers constitute the largest percentage. Research shows that for every one customer who tends to complain, there are at least 26 others who say nothing but leave silently post getting a better company with which to associate.

If your company is unable, to decipher whether its customers are happy or not, it could leave itself vulnerable to voices of dissent – research has proven that unhappy customers tell an average of 15-20 people about their not so pleasant experiences, while happy ones would possible tell between 1-6 people. Negative word of mouth of existing customers can possibly cause the most damage to a company, and hence it is necessary for a company to know whether its customers are happy or whether they are silently waiting before they can find a ‘better business partner’. It is essential for a company to adopt ways to not only know whether customers are happy, but also reduce churn.

While surveys may be a good way to feel the ‘universal pulse of customers’, most people would usually provide generic, ‘all is well’ kind of answers. It is human nature to provide positive or neutral responses when asked face-to-face. For a business, such responses would not be useful, and it would be prudent to request customers to send their candid views, anonymously, such that they would be able to write even their most negative comments without feeling inhibited. Regularly assessing the ‘feelings’ of customers enables a company to instantly address any issues, squash any opportunities for customer dissention, and ensure that it is able to know that its customers are happy all the time. Even customers know that not every interaction and experience with a company can be exactly how everyone would want, but at least customers would know that the company genuinely tries and cares about them. Research shows that at least 92% customers would be happy to continue working with a company even after a poor experience, if the company made a genuine effort to resolve the issue and did whatever it could to keep the customer. Sixty-three percentage customers revealed that if they received swift positive action with an apology from the company’s leadership, they would willingly stay with the company. Another 52% customers revealed that they would be willing to reconsider their decision to leave if they were offered a discount / incentive, while another 49% said they would stay if the company promised them higher levels of customer service.

Keeping and knowing customers are happy with your company is not that hard, if the intent and efforts are right. When customers are happy they add to the revenue of a company by making repeated and large purchases, and spreading the good word of mouth to a number of other prospective customers. When customers are not happy, and your company remains unaware, dissatisfaction levels can rise speedily. The worst part about unsatisfied customers is that they each can easily influence another 20 customers through bad word of mouth, resulting in a much higher rate of customer churn. It makes sense therefore, for any company to remain constantly aware of whether customers are happy, and whether there are any significant changes in their buying behaviour or demeanour towards the company. Tracking these changes would enable a company to know whether their customers are with it because they are happy, or simply because they are biding their time before they find another suitable company to with which to partner.

One of the top reasons that customers associate with a company is to make things easier for themselves and to help their business grow. To know whether customers are happy, a company must work towards this need of simplicity and ease. Every aspect of the business must be easy for customers – entering into a relationship, getting service, ease of payments, a wide range of options, multi-channel support, and even ease of leaving the relationship. The easier it is for customers to do business and receive great service, the longer they tend to stay with a company, and the company would know that their customers are happy.

Another aspect, which would help to know if customers are happy, is a company making every effort to make them feel important and valued. This could be through special events, get-togethers, customized messages, tailored offerings, speedy and effective customer service, and other such things. Statistics show that when customers consistently feel special, they not only stay happy but also soon become loyal and profitable for the company. Such customers then willingly offer positive comments, testimonials, and referrals, which prove to be extremely beneficial and profitable for a company. It is always a good idea to stay in regular touch with your customers.  Calling them or sending written messages to them is a great way to know if customers are happy, and how they currently perceive the company’s offerings and customer service. This may take up a few resources for a company, but the benefits far outweigh these ‘costs’.

As mentioned, it may not always be easy to tell if your customers are happy with you, but with some effort and ‘prodding’, it is possible to ascertain the customer state of mind with regard to your company. Are you ready to find out if your customers are happy?

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