Customer Experience Featured Article

All You Want for Christmas is Satisfied Customers

November 25, 2014

Once again, Black Friday (News - Alert) comes late in the year, and though stores have been pushing back the holidays for some time now—let's face it, who didn't see someone's Christmas decorations up before Halloween somewhere—the official start to the holiday shopping season has gotten off to a late start. While there have been, however, some who have jumped the gun and started Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa shopping early, the time this year is shorter than normal, and that's got some businesses wondering how to get the most out of the shortened season. The answer would seem to be one of customer satisfaction, the gift to retailers that keeps on giving the whole year through.

But how does customer satisfaction come about? Some, like Amazon's Jeff Bezos, have compared customer satisfaction to a party, in which customers are the guests and the business is the host. The things that are done to ensure a fun party can be adopted to make for satisfied customers as well. First, be willing to listen. If a guest at the party isn't having fun, there's usually a reason. Maybe the punch isn't staying particularly cold in the room. Maybe there's a big empty dance floor but no one's playing music. These are strictly metaphors, but the key point here is that usually there's something missing that prevents a customer from being satisfied, and addressing that point can often leave the customer having a much better time.

Second, don't ignore anyone. There are few things that are worse than feeling lonely in a room full of people, and for a customer, that's the kind of thing that can really kill an experience. Of course, some customers just want to have a walk around the door and look at things, but making the initial contact is never a bad thing. Even those customers who just want a look around will be able to say “thank you, but I'm just looking, I'll be sure to ask if I have questions” and that can be the end of that.

Third, don't ignore taboos. Nothing should be off limits when it comes to customer feedback, even if the occasional insulting, profane, or otherwise negative comment comes into play. Naturally, not every conflict can be resolved, but every conflict that is means a recovered customer. These can often prove to be the most valuable customers of all: a customer redeemed is one who was sought after and desired so much that the effort was taken. That can mean a lot in loyalty.

Fourth, don't forget to give back. Everyone loves presents, and giving—or giving back—often triggers a need to reciprocate. Also don't forget to incorporate tradition in with that giving back; there's something special about tradition that makes even unpleasant activities more pleasant because such are familiar, and familiarity can be a very good thing.

It's clear that there are a lot of options when it comes to making customers into satisfied customers. The potential return on such investment is too great to dismiss out of hand, either. Thinking of customers as party guests may not be the right approach for every small business, but it certainly has enough food for thought contained therein to make it worthwhile to at least consider. The point is to give customers a reason to come back, and whether a business thinks of customers as party guests or as valuable assets, the end result is still the same: customers who feel valued come back, and customers who come back keep businesses operational.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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