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The Importance of Measuring Client Satisfaction

Tampa Bay marketing firmAre your clients happy with you? You might answer, “Business is good. In fact, it’s never been better!” If that—or something similar was your response—frankly, you haven’t answered the question. You see, customer satisfaction is just one among several factors that motivate buying behavior. There’s also price (a big one!), convenience and brand familiarity. One of those may be the reason for your success. So why is customer satisfaction still a big deal if you have another of these important business-drivers as your ace-in-the-hole? Here’s the thing. Customer satisfaction affects loyalty, so when a competitor matches your best general attribute (and one will, eventually), happy customers stay with you. That’s why you should be measuring client satisfaction.

To gather information that will allow you to evaluate customer satisfaction, conduct a survey or some form of live interview … or maybe both. Take a look at the following questions for your survey subjects:

  • How would you rate the quality of our products/services?
  • Do you feel our products/services fit your lifestyle in terms of ease-of-use and convenience?
  • Are you satisfied with the range of products/services that we offer?
  • Do you feel that our products/services are a good value for their cost?
  • How well do we meet your expectations in terms delivery or provision of our products/services?
  • How satisfied are you with the level of courtesy you receive from our staff?
  • How would you rate the availability of our staff?
  • Are you satisfied with the knowledge levels of our staff?
  • Would you describe our staff as friendly and responsive?
  • If you have ever had a problem or question in regard to a purchase, how would you rate our ability to resolve your issue?
  • What would you say is the public perception of our company?
  • When business with us is concluded, how do you usually rate the experience?
  • Would you recommend us to a close friend or family member?

Please note, the questions above should serve as information reference points for your research. Simply rephrase them to match your own survey format. The questionnaire design should allow easy comparison across all respondents (apples to apples), and you will want to distinguish differences in intensity such as “very satisfied” to “not at all satisfied” for easier quantification. Survey templates are readily available on the Internet (i.e. Survey Monkey, Qualtrics) and many of these are free, so explore your options.

There are a number of ways to conduct your survey including regular mail, email and website, phone or in person. Regardless of which best fits your circumstances, it’s most important for your survey to be randomly drawn from the same population pool—presumably current and/or former customers. As much as possible, avoid letting respondents self-select themselves. (This is one reason that phone surveys and face-to-face interviews may result in more accurate results than mail or online surveys).

Naturally, you’ll review the survey results looking for potential trouble areas. If your “report card” is good to very good across the entire of range of questions with little variance, that’s great! Doubtlessly, you can still find something to improve—even if your customers haven’t noticed—but be proud of yourself. And if you have mostly good customer ratings, with only one or two trouble areas, at least you now know what to work on—immediately!

But—just theoretically speaking—what if your ratings are uniformly abysmal? Where do you start? The best approach is to choose the easiest thing to remedy first and go from there. That way, customers who stick with you can see improvement quickly as you set about making things better for them.

One thing you should always do with a customer satisfaction survey, is let everyone know the results. You don’t have to get into details (especially if the results, were really, really bad), but make it plain that you value the feedback you received, note that areas for improvement that will be getting your immediate attention (and possibly the specific steps you’ll be taking) and promise to continue to maintain high standards in the other areas (a little humble-bragging never hurts anyone). And if (theoretically) you got a massive FAIL on your report card, let your customers know how hard you’ll be working to regain their trust. It’s been done before, very successfully, so don’t panic and get to work.

Customer surveys, just like any other, need to be carried our consistently over time in order to measure progress toward your customer satisfaction goals. Because, ultimately, happy clients are your best defense against determined competition.

Some of the information in this article was culled from Customer Satisfaction Surveys & Research: How to Measure CSAT.

Other links to check out:

12 Steps to Creating an Effective Customer Survey

How to Develop and Effective Customer Satisfaction Survey

How to Write a Customer Survey

Relationship Building for Business and More

relationship building for business
Relationship building is a fundamental facet of life – we meet people, we connect with them, we become friends with them. Building relationships happens over time, and as time goes by, acquaintances become friends through common interests and shared experiences. Perhaps we’ve known a person long enough to have watched their children grow or were present during tough life events. The longer you know someone, the more you share. These shared experiences form bonds and serve as the foundation of a more profound friendship, but this type of relationship affects our professional lives as well.

Friendships and business relationships overlap fairly often. One of the things we have learned over time is that business relationships often evolve into friendships, and vice versa. Someone who has been a friend for years may one day open a door that you never knew was there.

Case in Point

This is a story about a small network of three people who were connected in different ways, with names changed for anonymity.

September was on the hunt for a job, and her first search terms pulled up a website for a company that she had never heard of, despite the fact that it was right down the street from her old photography studio. She looked over the website and thought the company looked interesting, so she prepped her cover letter and resume and thought she would give it a shot. Sending an unsolicited resume is often fruitless, but September knew that sending hundreds of resumes out would be more likely to yield a collection of viable results. She sent her resume to every single email address she could find.

Diana received September’s email and read over the cover letter with curiosity. She was intrigued, so she decided to do “the search.” First, she went to LinkedIn and discovered that she and September shared a number of connections, although she had never heard the name before. One friend in particular was William, who was a good friend of Diana and whom she had met years ago through a leadership program. She immediately called William to get the scoop on this mysterious September. William, always one to chat, was instantly excited. He told Diana that she had to hire September, sang her praises almost endlessly, and almost kicked himself for not having made the introduction himself, much earlier.

On the other end of things, September continued her search and had sent her resume to a few more places, not expecting immediate results, but diligently focused on acquiring at least one or two responses within a week. To her surprise, she was to receive a response within minutes of sending out that first resume, certainly a personal record. The phone rang and it was William. It had been quite some time since September had seen or even spoken to William, but he was one of those timeless friends who you pick up with wherever you left off. She was happy to hear from him. William instantly began talking about Diana, the owner of the very company September had just sent her resume to. He was ecstatic for the connection, and told September that he thought it was the perfect fit. He told her that he had just gotten off the phone with Diana, and had a really good conversation.

September emailed Diana when she hung up with William. They set up a time to meet, and their first meeting was such a success that September knew almost instantly that this was where she would end up. William was right. He had seen something in these two women that he knew would bring them together. September accepted Diana’s job offer, and the rest is history. The three of them still have lunch on a regular basis, and September and Diana both are grateful to William for bringing them together.

As you can see from the story, there was one small hole in this network – the connection between September and Diana had not yet been made. Now this web is complete, and they have connected other parts of their web as well, through friendships, business partnerships, and acquaintances. It is quite interesting to think about the vast network of people that we have in our lives, especially for those who are involved in many community activities. Your network could extend much farther than you even realize. Sometimes it takes only one person to bridge the gap, as in this case. Once September and Diana’s gap had been bridged, they realized how many other friends they had in common.

Have you had a similar experience? We would love to hear your stories about networking surprises.

Cultivating the Best Customer Experience

cultivating client relationships

There are satisfied customers – those who have received their products or services and are content with their purchase; there are dissatisfied customers – those whose expectations have not been met; and then there are off-the-charts fans of your business – those clients who have received memorable, exceptional customer service and products. Can you think of the last customer service experience you had that made you a raving fan? Creating this type of memorable experience for your customers does not have to be difficult.

Use Failure as an Opportunity to Improve

We all set out to make our clients happy with the work we do, but we don’t always succeed. Failure to make a client happy with your product or service is not a failure at all – rather, take it as an opportunity to create an even stronger impression. Think of client dissatisfaction as the best time to show just how resilient, patient, and cooperative your company can be. Use negative feedback to improve your future operations and customer service. As long as you learn from your mistakes, you will only get better.

cultivating strong client relationships

Say it with a smile – being personable and passionate goes a long way in great customer service.

Customer Experience is a Part of Your Brand

Great customer service should be a part of your package, not an afterthought. If you find yourself constantly patching up problems and messes, then it’s probably time to re-evaluate your approach. Think of good service as a part of the product you are selling – people are buying your product or service over others because you offer the complete package – a great experience in addition to a great product. Win more sales with great products, win customer loyalty with great service. Be passionate about customer service and show your customers that you care. Find a way to build excellent customer service into your process from the very beginning.

Leadership Leads Good Customer Experience

Realize that good customer service starts at the leadership level. If treating your customers to a good experience is not valued by leadership, then that will be reflected in other positions. Other hindrances to good customer experience are apathy, disorganization, and disengagement of employees. All of these are problems that can be solved by good leadership. Executives should provide training, assistance, and perks for good customer service. A solid client-centric program should have guidelines for providing good service, as well as protocol for addressing problems when they do arise. In the case of Zappos, for example, if clients don’t like the shoes they ordered, no problem! Just return the items with free shipping both ways. The problem of customer dissatisfaction is virtually erased, since they can return the product without worrying about being charged. When you have a great customer experience, it’s because that experience is built into the very culture of the organization, beginning at the top.

Check out a few of our favorite books on the topic of customer service:

The New Gold Standard – The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company

Zappos: Good to Great

Copy vs. Graphics: Bickering Spouses of Advertising?

copyvgraphics_newsIn this age of social media, viral videos and search engine optimization (SEO), the role of imagery and copy in marketing is like ever-present background noise. And yet from billboards to websites, the healthy marriage of copy and graphics is almost always a critical component in the successful execution of promotional efforts.

The relationship between copy and graphics is practically as close as conjoined twins. Think about it. How often to you do you see promotional copy without some kind of image? Or when was the last time you saw an ad that had no words?

As with any couple, there can be tension between words and picture—often thanks to the “in-laws.” People who bring copy into the world are fond of saying that “Copy drives creative.” Meanwhile the graphics artists point out that nobody actually reads Playboy for the articles. Wisdom comes from understanding that whatever is done must be for the sake of the concept.

How this conception takes place varies quite a bit. It can be a lovely process, or sort of messy (intimate collaboration vs. a brainstorming free-for-all). But once a marketing concept is born, skill and patience are needed to help it achieve its destiny of carrying an important message into the world. Good marketing agencies work this out for their clients. But what if you’re a smaller business with only ad hoc marketing assistance? Where do you begin?

  • Understand how the concept will carry the message. It’s easy to get carried away with a possible concept; they can be very cute and lot of fun. But if the connection between a creative concept and its intended message isn’t readily apparent, start over. Also, remember to keep your branding in mind—especially how the concept supports your overall value proposition.
  • First, focus on the concept and come up with a visual OR First, focus on the concept and come up with a headline. Sorry, but sometimes the graphics needs to lead, and sometimes the copy has to do the trick. If one person is doing this alone, it’s relatively easy because they can go with the best idea that pops up. If you have people splitting duties, you can have them collaborate; let them work independently and present dueling treatments; or make the executive decision to have one of them take the lead.
  • Creative elements must support and complement each other … completely. A lot of really great headlines have been killed by stock photography or limited graphics resources that don’t quite meet the needs. This is why images often end up being in control when all is said and done. (It’s usually easier to change a few words than come up with the perfect picture.) The key takeaway is that they have to work together!
  • Maintain consistency throughout the promotional piece. Typically, this is more of an issue for copywriters than graphics artists as there are often headlines, body copy, a call-to-action, etc. supporting just one concept. (Avoid the copywriting equivalents of mixed metaphors!) However, where multiple images are used (such as a brochure) they too should be in keeping with specific copy elements and honor the creative idea throughout the piece.
  • Let the people involved in the creative process take a final look before publishing (or ‘going live’). Just because people work together, they don’t necessarily work side-by-side. Sometimes an artist may find that the image that delighted her isn’t available for commercial usage. Or perhaps the writer (who convinced everyone he’d written the all-time greatest headline) wakes up in the middle of the night realizing it’s actually stupid. One creative person may frantically issue changes that the other knows nothing about … or maybe they never had a meeting of the minds to begin with. It’s critically important that they all have the opportunity to serve as creative quality checks before it’s too late.

While it will never be set in stone as to whether copy or imagery is more important to rearing a successful promotional concept, they each have their important specific roles. Imagery catches the attention of an audience, and copy justifies that interest. As long as they’re doing this, you know you have a creative union that works.

Other online articles you may want to peruse:

The 10 Commandments of Great Copywriting

25 Epic Design Tips for Non Designers

11 Best ways to Brainstorm Creative Ideas

Tampa Bay public relations

Social Media Superhero: Tips for Curating Social Content

social media curating content marketing Social media accounts for businesses are now the norm rather than the exception, so keeping up-to-date with your posts is something that must be done on a regular basis. We understand that this is time-consuming and is yet another item to add to your to-do list, but below are some tips for streamlining the process and keeping your content interesting and fresh.

  • Choose your accounts wisely: You don’t have to have ALL the social media accounts for your business (although you should own your name to fend off squatters.) Pick the ones that make the most sense. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are fairly standard (for different reasons) and should be on your list, but if your business is not image heavy, then Instagram and Pinterest may not be necessary. However, if you are a retailer, these may be your most important accounts. Consider what your business’ mission and goals are, then choose your social media accounts accordingly.
  • Know your audience: Who are they and what do they need? What do they like and how can you help them? These are questions you should ask yourself before you start posting on your social media accounts. Even after you’ve begun posting and feel like you have identified your target audience, use social media analytics to gain more insight into your audience’s habits and fine-tune what you are already doing to capture them.

Use time saving applications:

  • Create a keyword list (in much the same way you would for SEO), and use your chosen keywords in Google Alerts to capture content throughout the week so you don’t have to search every day for fresh articles to post.
  • Use HootsuiteSprout Social, Edgar or other handy tools – many of which have simplified free versions – to schedule posts so that you can get an entire week or two of social media finished in one sitting. Keep in mind that the style and format for each is different, so it’s best to use the tools to post to each platform individually.
  • Engage with your audience as often as possible: Respond to their comments and messages, like or retweet their news and photos, and let them know that you’re listening. This lets them know there is actually a person on the other end of the account, not just an automated robot.
  • Beware of politically charged or religious content: On a business social media account (and in some cases even your personal profile), starting politically charged conversations can frighten people away. Some people are eager to debate or give their opinion, but others just don’t want to be inundated with other people’s opinions. Stay neutral and keep the political material for personal encounters.

Social media doesn’t have to be difficult – in fact, it can be a fun way to get to know your customers better and improve your business. Many people hire marketing agencies to handle social media, if this is the route you choose, make sure the agency is willing to learn your business and tailor your posts to your personality – nothing is worse than a Facebook or Twitter that seems sterile and unrelated to the business. See more social media tips, check out some of our other articles about hashtags, Instagram posting, and writing client-centric blogs.

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