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Giving Your Customers a Voice: The Definitive Guide to Improving Customer Satisfaction

As a leader in your organization, you might find yourself so consumed by the corporate to-do list that measuring customer satisfaction takes a back seat on the priority list. Don’t let it. Giving your customers the chance to speak up provides you with a singular opportunity to understand what you can do better. And wanting to do better seems to be in our genes. For sales organizations, this isn’t an abstract notion, but one tied to the health of your business. Knowing what your customers love (and what they hate) is important not only for retaining your existing base of clients and increasing their loyalty, but also for acquiring more.

Companies actively measuring customer satisfaction levels are 33% more likely to see growth rates of over 10% a year, according to some studies. Even more impressively, the act of measuring itself, even if you don’t implement changes, has been shown to improve customer retention. There’s power in knowledge. In fact, the cost of not zeroing in on customer satisfaction scores might exceed that of investing in the technology to put such a process in place.

A research project published in The Harvard Business Review underlines the fact that “unhappy customers are expensive” because they are “more likely to return products or more likely to require support. Systematically solve the source of dissatisfaction, you don’t just make them more likely to return — you reduce the amount they cost you to serve.”

Measuring customer satisfaction has long been relegated to the realm of gut instinct and intuition. Because of that, companies have time and again made the wrong moves—moves that could have been avoided had they performed the kind of analysis that technology now makes both possible and easy.

The good news is that you’ve got many choices when it comes to selecting the technological solution that can help you reach your goals. The even better news is that one type of solution stands out among the pack.

Though traditionally used to steer sales focus, more and more companies are beginning to rely on sales performance management processes to keep their customers happy and their customer support teams motivated and on track. That’s because SPM can be used in more ways than one to boost customer satisfaction.

Adding metrics to the incentive plan

An obvious goal of an intelligent compensation plan is incentivizing employees to adapt sales behaviors that align to the company’s strategic initiatives: i.e., growing the subscriber base, increasing market share, or ramping up sales of a particular type of product. However, incentivizing reps to solely carry out actions that bolster organizational strategy won’t increase customer satisfaction levels; focusing on sales alone may create a situation where a salesperson’s incentives just don’t align well with customer needs. For example, compensation models that encourage one thing (e.g., making the customer happy), but pay bonuses on another (e.g., selling more) can prove detrimental to customer satisfaction. It’s essential companies measure the specific behavioral metrics that are known to lead to an improved customer experience. This way, organizations ensure that what’s best for the rep is not out of sync with what’s best for the customer.

For example, employees who interact with clients might receive incentives for the following:

– minimizing the amount of phone time spent on hold

– achieving high scores on customer satisfaction surveys

– resolving issues on the first contact with the client

– helping refer the customer to the ideal person or channel within the organization, if that is not the initial contact point

Because the above activities may be tied directly to incentive pay, salespeople will be motivated to focus on specific activities that enhance service levels and drive superior outcomes for the customer. This, in turn, will translate into more consistently satisfying buying experiences.

Use sales intelligence to create customer profiles

SPM can also help improve customer satisfaction levels when the technology is used to establish omni-channel solutions that deliver a seamless shopping experience, whether the customer is shopping online, browsing on a mobile device, talking over the phone or walking into a store.Today’s customer often starts shopping in one channel and then moves to another within the same business due to need and convenience. For example, think about going to a store to research mobile phones, and then deciding to order one online from the same company for a better deal. Any salesperson interacting with a customer should be aware of her clients’ activity across all channels. SPM has the power to transform all of that customer data, now organized in silos (from spreadsheets, online data etc.)  into normalized, easy-to-use information. A unified approach to tracking the customer journey makes for an overall smoother experience for all involved in the sales process.

Generally, customers purchase products and services to solve a problem or to fill a need. As author Sharan Suresh points out, prospective buyers “are aware of the problem, but might not be aware of the best solution to the problem.” The ability to quickly draw actionable insights via analysis of a client’s history puts sales reps in the best position to effectively guide a customer to that solution. Doing so creates a smooth and satisfying experience for the customer, while simultaneously driving additional sales.

What comes next

More and more organizations are learning (some the hard way) that improving the quality of client/employee interactions in all departments is crucial to growing customer loyalty. Low levels of customer satisfaction can lead to fluctuations in trust andloyalty , negatively impacting the health of the business. To elevate customer retention and satisfaction levels, businesses should invest in their SPM solution, to ensure that their compensation strategy drives the rep behaviors that keep customers coming back.

7 Steps to Designing an Incentive Compensation Plan that Drives Results

Most companies are dissatisfied with their compensation programs. Read this guide to learn how to design a comp plan that gets results.

Get it here

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