Anything for an easy life – UM’s Layal Hassi.

When it comes to customer satisfaction, there is no right formula as long as the basic pillars are in place, writes UM’s Layal Hassi

Layal Hassi, media director, UM

Putting the consumer first is a goal that every brand aspires to work towards. But what does that really mean in a world that is so cluttered with offers, products and deals, making the consumer’s choice even harder?

In an era where most brands echo the terminology “Customer first”, there is a lack of practice or practical information on what that actually means, and the number of brands who have been “serving their customers better” are actually very few. We live in a realm where social media has become the most vocal customer platform, giving room for consumers to freely demonstrate their opinion of any brand, voicing whether or not they are being served according to their needs.

Customer experience with any brand is a defining pillar; it demonstrates accountability and brand image. So what does it really mean to improve customer satisfaction? It means having to touch upon and improve the consumer’s fulfilment at every touchpoint of their “path to purchase”. To do this, brands and their partners need to implement policies and procedures to place the consumer at the heart of everything that they do.

The formula is very simple: If you do not satisfy your customer’s needs, your business will have automatically failed. Research has found that growing brands are more likely to put their customers’ success first than those with immobile or declining revenue. More than 80 per cent of brands believe that retention is cheaper than acquisition, while 70 per cent of growing businesses believe that customer satisfaction is one of the most important pillars across any brand. Now, when it comes to improving customer satisfaction, the list is endless, but to sum it up, here are four main pillars that make up an “improved customer satisfaction” journey:

Make the customer’s life easy
A seamless user journey for customers is one of the most crucial aspects of a customer experience with any brand. Quite often we tend to forget that consumers have to learn how to purchase or obtain a product. To make it as addictive as possible for consumers to do so, we have to keep in mind that it needs to be easy to use.

Provide answers and educate your customers
Any customer question or inquiry should be responded to in an elaborative way – either manually with one-to-one communication, or within the actual interface. Remember that it is exceptionally frustrating when consumers are questioning brands and don’t get a response; they become increasingly frustrated. This process includes testing your own UX journey and evaluating whether it is frustrating or not. If you have tested your own UX journey and found it inarguably frustrating, then remember that the alarm needs to be raised and probably every other customer will feel equally discouraged.

Ask for feedback
In other words, make it easier for your customers to complain. If they cannot give feedback to you as a brand directly, they will certainly do so on social media. Quite often, if brands have a well-placed mechanism to absorb customer feedback in real time, then this will count as the ultimate pillar to turn a negative situation into a positive one. Customers should have a variety of places to provide their feedback to, with the likes of live chats, emailers, social media and surveys.

Personalise their experiences
There is only one major pillar that will make your customer want to come back, which is personalising their experience. According to customer experience research, 56 per cent of customer experience professionals aim to improve and personalise the customer experience. When brands address personalisation, they immediately refer to big data and the likes of Amazon – the leading customercentric company. Once a brand knows a lot about their customers, their next aim should be to personalise their offers based on the customers’ interests. This type of personalisation not only increases customer satisfaction, but also drives loyalty and repeated purchase. Outside of Amazon’s personalisation mechanism, there are similar brands that have followed the same process. Netflix has revolutionised the way it captures user intent, and Coca-Cola allowed its customers to self-express and stay connected with friends through its “Share a Coke” campaign.

The challenge remains how to continue to transform experiences for customers that not only make them extrapersonalised but also seamless. It takes process and structure to get the basic pillars of customer satisfaction right, before we even proceed with bombarding customers with a variety of offers.