By Laurie Morrow, Vice President, Research Strategy
Have you ever been so pleased with an experience in a store, restaurant or other establishment you do business with, that you went out of your way to tell the management how delighted you were with the experience?
No. Neither have I. Most of the time, I’m just too busy.
On the flip side, have you ever been so dissatisfied with rude customer service, poor product quality or had an overall bad experience that you asked to speak to a manager, called their corporate office or written their corporate headquarters to complain?
On occasion, I have taken the time to express my dissatisfaction to management; but more often than not, I’ve kept it to myself instead of letting that company or manager know. Sometimes I may give them a second chance, giving them the benefit of the doubt that my next experience will be better; however, other times I just stop doing business with the company altogether.
If this sounds familiar to you, we are what companies should fear most, the silent customer. Recent studies show 96 percent of customers will not complain, and 91 percent will simply never return.
While silent customers don’t complain to management, they most certainly will share their experiences with their friends, neighbors and co-workers. A customer who is dissatisfied will tell between 9-15 people about their experience, with over one in ten telling 20 people about their bad experience.
The impact of negative word-of-mouth can be more devastating than ever as online and social tools that amplify word-of-mouth are increasingly more powerful. Seventy-six percent of consumers are using online reviews before determining which business to use, and over 1 million people view tweets about customer service every week and roughly 80 percent of those tweets are negative.
A negative review could be devastating in today’s viral world of social media.
What Can You Do?
Whatever your customer base, whether it is families, Fortune 500 firms or federal agencies, all businesses need to remember customer feedback is a gift. Hearing about a complaint or bad experience gives you the chance to right a wrong. It provides an opportunity to improve. Learning about small problems your customers are having can also help them from snowballing into a larger issue that can threaten their continued loyalty. On the flip side, hearing about what you are doing right can help you duplicate those activities, ensuring continued positive customer experiences.
Outreach efforts such as customer satisfaction surveys are a great way to identify those silent customers that might go unnoticed. While some may continue to remain silent, providing a mechanism for customers to give honest feedback is a good first step at identifying shortcomings that will ultimately lead to process improvement, increased customer satisfaction, and customer retention.
Interested in learning more? Read about the top three activities ensuring customer satisfaction.
Need help developing a customer satisfaction program? Contact Aaron Heffron, Market Connections president at email@example.com.
Successful companies understand the value of their existing customers – whether that business is B2C, B2B or B2G – they understand that satisfied customers are more likely to remain loyal, renew contracts, expand services, share positive feedback and recommend them to others.
This is especially true in the public sector. With large multi-million and even billion-dollar contracts on the line, it’s imperative to have a deep understanding of your customer’s satisfaction level, ensuring that small hiccups do not become larger problems that lead to non-renewal or non-consideration.
How can contractors avoid an unpleasant surprise?
In addition to keeping a close eye on their CPARS ratings, they can access a variety of research tools to help them understand and increase their customer satisfaction. Below are three ideas about what type of research is working:
- Keeping Your Customer: Create a Customer, or Contract, Satisfaction Program
It’s important to get regular, honest feedback from your clients about their satisfaction levels. Measuring customer satisfaction is about more than surveying your clients; it’s about acting immediately on the feedback you get. A customer satisfaction program can help you correct any issues before they become irreparable, and help win the recompete. The key is using third-party research, which is more likely to uncover unbiased information that you can act on. Multiple satisfied customers can add up to a satisfied contract.
Read our client case study: “Importance of Customer Satisfaction Research”
- Understanding and Meeting Your Customer’s Needs: Insights to Support Customer Strategy
Getting needs met — that is perhaps the most basic indicator of a happy customer. Successful contractors do not guess what those needs are; they ask. In fact, through market opportunity assessments, we often find that what the customer needs and wants may not be completely aligned with our client’s expectations. Highly successful contractors use this intelligence to reframe or reposition their offers. The more educated you are about the market you serve, the better equipped you are to respond to customer needs.
- Build Relationships: Become a Trusted Advisor
According to the 2019 Content Marketing Study, public sector audiences, and especially federal audiences are hungry for information from their industry partners. Research reports and white papers were among the top three valuable types of content for federal audiences and data and research to support that content was most valuable feature. To build a stronger relationship with your public sector customer, become a trusted advisor. Highly successful federal contractors invest in research-based thought leadership. This gives them a platform to discuss market trends and establish their expertise while showcasing their understanding of customer concerns and pain points, which ultimately strengthens relationships.