To run a truly successful business, when a customer walks into your premises, your biggest concern shouldn’t “how can I make this sale.”

Truly successful businesses develop long term relationships with customers by providing a total experience that has customers want to come back and do business with you!

The name of the game is customer satisfaction, and the question is, how do I increase customer satisfaction among my clientele?

In this article we look at 4 elements of customer satisfaction, and suggestions on how you can control these elements to improve repeat business: 

The Expectancy Disconfirmation Theory of Satisfaction

Understanding some theories of customer satisfaction is a good place to start. Perhaps the most accepted explanation of customer satisfaction is the expectancy disconfirmation theory of customer satisfaction.

The general idea behind the expectancy-disconfirmation theory of customer satisfaction, is that customers have pre-conceived notions and expectations about the services you are offering, or the products you are selling. And that they are satisfied when the service/product meets or exceeds their expectations, but they are dissatisfied if it falls short or if it differs significantly from what they expected.

The interesting thing about this theory is that customer satisfaction has less to do with the quality of the product/service and more to do with the customers’ expectation and perceptions.

Based on this theory, you may be able to improve customer satisfaction by properly managing customers’ expectations.

Managing expectations matters especially when it comes to the way you market your product/service.

For example, you may market your restaurant by claiming that your food is “the best in the city”, but what happens when customers come in and find that your food is just okay?

Even if your food is quite nice, customers may still be dissatisfied because you overpromised.

The big takeaway from this theory of customer satisfaction is to highlight your best features in adverts, but don’t promise what you can’t deliver, as it can work against you.

The Material Product and the Perceived Value Theory of Customer Satisfaction

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There is no getting around it — if you want your customers to be satisfied, then offering high-quality products/services is a great place to start, especially if you take head of the perceived value theory of customer satisfaction.

According to this theory, if a customer believes that the value, they receive from you or your product surpasses the money they have paid, then they will be satisfied. 

At a bare minimum, if you want a happy customer, you must make sure that your product can do what you claim it does.

It should also be durable. According to this theory, it will be great if it offers something extra (e.g. additional features or a bonus). Anything that exceeds the expectation.

You can improve customer satisfaction by improving the quality of your product, or by offering something that makes your product stand out when compared to your competitors’ products.

The Behaviour and Attitude of Employees

The way customers are treated by employees at your establishment is very crucial in determining their levels of satisfaction, so you must train your employees to treat a customer’s well.

The first thing you need to drill in your employees is the idea that everyone who walks in the door should get VIP treatment.

Make sure your employees are attentive, bright and happy, that they greet customers warmly and never ignore customers.

Your employees should make a genuine effort to help customers, and they should offer to assist them however they can.

If your business prints electronic receipts, simple things like adding a “thank you” message at the bottom of all customer receipts may help. You can incentivise your employees to be nicer to customers by factoring it into the way they are paid or rewarding an employee every month with a prize for service and attitude.

The integrity of your employees is also important when it comes to customer satisfaction.

It might be their job to try to upsell the customer, but their sales tactics shouldn’t be pushy.

If an employee lies to the customer about the quality of a product in order to make a sale, you might win the sale but lose their return business. And that’s not a recipe for longevity in business.

The Environment

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Customer satisfaction is greatly affected by the quality of the environment inside and around your place of business.

Even if you have a great product, or you offer high-quality service, the aesthetic appeal of your business is still going to have a major impact on how the customers feel. 

According to Nicholas Pastras, the CEO of Smart Commercial Cleaning, “numerous independent academic studies have shown that one of the most important things about your business to your customers is how clean it is, so an investment in keeping areas visible to customers cleaned, professionally, daily, or even several times a day if your business experiences high foot traffic, is justified. 

A dirty environment is off-putting to customers in pretty much every type of business, but especially in businesses within the food service industry”. said Pastras.

The ambiance is another aspect of the environment of your business that affects customer satisfaction. Try and ensure that your business atmosphere is welcoming and pleasant to be in.

When coming up with an ambient design for your business, work with the senses, the sights, the sounds, and the smells in your business can evoke positive feelings in your customers and can influence customers to stay a little bit longer. 

Buying is as much an emotional decision as a head decision. Positive feelings always mean people are more inclined to come back and with regard to return business, can even be as important as price.

Stock Photo from 4 PM production @ Shutterstock

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