As operational complexity takes its toll on the service industry, it’s important we keep our focus on the customer. These 8 ideas to customer satisfaction can be achieved by keeping it simple.

1. Ask them!

Whether in print, in person or over the phone, nothing is better than asking customers exactly what they want and how they want it. (Ask them what they don’t want, too!) Use feedback sheets, mail-back forms, comment cards, telephone scripts and more.

2. Conduct focus groups

Bring a group of customers together for an open-ended chat session. Set them at ease and get them talking about what they really like, don’t like and wish they could get from your business. Don’t defend, justify or argue. Just ask questions and take good notes. Follow up with a sincere ‘Thank you!’

3. Study complaints and compliments

Every message from a customer presents an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction. Compliments show you what to reinforce, while complaints point to new ideas and action steps for improvement.

4. Set up a customer hotline

Some customers will tell you what they think, but they want an ‘anonymous’ way to do it. Fine! Set up a special voice recording ‘hotline’ for customers only. And don’t worry about receiving any strange messages; just sort through them for the gems that will give you specific information about the way to improve customer satisfaction!

5. Hire a Mystery Shopper

Have someone you trust mingle with your customers and strike up conversation to find out what they do and do not like.

6. Become a customer of your best competitors

Use their products and services regularly, compare them to your own. Ask their Customer Service Center to describe available services in detail, then copy the best and do better than the rest.

7. Visit your customer’s site

Go to your customer’s physical location to see exactly how they put your products and services to use. See with your own eyes what works and what doesn’t, what gets used all the time and what gets left behind.

8. Go online to seek more feedback

Find an Internet users group related to your industry or topic, then read the postings for new ideas and information. Actively participate in the discussions and follow up by e-mail to gain even deeper input and understanding. What is your favorite technique to improve customer satisfaction?

Source: Customer Service Manager