Small Business Startup
Improving Customer Satisfaction

(Date posted: May 20, 2009)

During this step in your small business startup, you will improve how your customers feel about your product and your company. You will do this by making certain changes to your product, promotion of the product, sales proposition, and/or interactions with customers.

Before beginning this step, you should have started business operations. The previous step shows you how to do this.

The desired result of this step is to have satisfied customers that will continue to buy from you and/or will recommend your company and its products to others.

Here are the topics:

Guidelines
Procedures
Example
Go, continue, or maintain decision

The changes you make during this step will help you increase sales and cash flow in the next step.


IMPORTANT

Before using this information to improve your business be sure to read the following notice: Disclaimer

Guidelines

Every business firm owes its continued existence to the willingness of customers to buy its product (goods, services, or information). Unfortunately, many business owners get so involved with the day-to-day details of their business that customer satisfaction may not be job #1.

This is why owners must make a special effort at customer satisfaction. Customers should never be taken for granted. They can stop buying from you if:

  • They are not completely satisfied
  • A competitor offers them a better deal
  • They find another use for their money

Therefore, you need to insure that both old and new customers are kept fully satisfied.

Okay, so you have to satisfy customers. "So what's the big deal, you may ask?" Well, the big deal is that customers are likely to have different needs, desires, preferences, and priorities than you, the business owner.

So, you will have to make a concerted effort to discover and satisfy these different needs, desires, preferences, and priorities.

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Procedures

One of the best ways to promote your company and its products is through "word of mouth" advertising. This is when your customers are so satisfied that they recommend your company and its products to other people.

NOTE: If you are operating a low-cost, low-risk type of business, review the Bootstrap Methods page in another section for ways to save on cash.

Following are various methods you can use to improve customer satisfaction.

Studying your customers

Revisit your results from the Reviewing the Market step. Study your findings on how other firms with comparable products solicited customers. What hot buttons did they use? What sales propositions did they use? What product features did they emphasize?

Then study your own customers. What sales offers seem to appeal to them? What features do they seem to like or dislike about your product? What complaints do they have about their use of your product or their interactions with your business?

Decide how you can better satisfy your customers and eliminate the source of their complaints. Then make any needed changes.

Studying your product

Revisit your results from the Refining the Product step. Retrace the process you went through to add features to your product.

With the knowledge you now have, would you make any changes to your product's features? Would you make the product easier to use? Would you lower the sales price by making the product less expensive to produce?

Decide how you can improve your product. Then make any needed changes.

Resolving any customer complaints

You want to be on the lookout for any customer complaints. And once you encounter a complaint, be sure the problem is resolved to the customer's satisfaction. The general rule is: "the customer is always right." Even if customers aren't always right, treat them as if they are. (Do you want a satisfied customer, or do you want to prove who is "right" about something?)

Decide how to eliminate the source of most customer complaints. Then make any needed changes.

Making every customer contact enjoyable

It's not enough to provide a quality product. You also have to make every customer contact with your company an enjoyable experience. How is this accomplished? Well, put yourself in the customers' shoes. Pretend you are a customer and try to experience what they experience. Then you will find out where you need to make improvements.

Decide how to make every contact with your customers more enjoyable. Then make any needed changes.

Using a customer satisfaction survey

Another good way to see if your customers are satisfied is to use a survey. But don't just ask them to fill out a form or answer some questions over the phone. Instead, give them something valuable if they complete the survey. And make the survey as brief and "user friendly" as possible.

Decide how to correct any problems revealed by the survey. Then make any needed changes.

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Example

This example was to be based on the activities expected for my own business operations, the sale of one or more e-books.

(Note: In the meantime, business conditions have nosedived worldwide. Thus I have decided not to hold back my best ideas for to use in the for-sale e-books. Instead this free website will get everything I have. However, at a later time I may be able to sell advertising blurbs of others.)

I haven't started business operations yet. Therefore, this example is just supposition on my part.

So I'm going to make this example brief. I will only show the decisions that I might have made. In some cases, I will add some comments to explain my decisions.

Study my customers

In order to know more about my customers I am going to separate them into various groups. Then I can decide how to satisfy each group. I have already decided to offer two versions of my first e-book. There will be a "Money" e-book and a "Business" e-book. I will certainly use different sales appeals for each e-book.

Here are some possible categories for my customers:

  • Teenagers
  • Women
  • Retired people
  • Unemployed people
  • People who want quick cash
  • People who want big cash
  • People with a lot of ambition

Study my product

I will try to minimize the use of special terms in my e-book products. I will use many examples to show how get things done. I will provide step-by-step instructions. I will provide sources for additional information.

Resolve any customer complaints

This will be a three-step process.

The first step is to provide a convenient way for customers to voice their complaints. I will use a special e-mail address for this purpose. It will be "complaints@MoneyMagic1-2-3.com."

The second step is to read the complaints and respond to each complaining customer.

The third step is to make any changes needed to eliminate the cause of these complaints.

Make every customer contact enjoyable

The main contact that customers have with my company will be the sales page on my website. I will make sure this sales page does not have any of the features that I have always disliked in the sales page of other firms.

When discussing the benefits of my product, I will show how these benefits can be achieved by using my product. This will be the focus of the discussion on the sales page.

I will disclose the sales price early on in the sales page. I won't make it the last thing as most other people do.

I won't keep talking about enjoying the supposed benefits in page after page of puffery. The main benefit of my product is to have more money. Anyone can imagine what to do with more money. It is silly for the sales page to go on and on talking about expensive cars, expensive vacations, fancy houses, and so on.

I may or may not use testimonials on the sales page.

Personally, I am not impressed by testimonials. The people who provide testimonials are only a very small part of the customers who have purchased a product. Maybe they are unique in some ways and that's why they achieved their benefits from the product.

I would rather have as much information as possible on exactly how to achieve the benefits. Then I can decide whether I would be able to achieve them.

What I find it especially offensive is to have all these testimonials and then discover in the fine print that their achievements are not typical. To me this means that the entire sales pitch is a fraud. But, that's just me. Anyway, I am not sold on the use of testimonials.

Use a customer satisfaction survey

If I use a customer satisfaction survey, I will make it easy to complete. It would be an online survey with five questions and a space for any optional comments. I would give anyone who completes the five questions their choice of any bonus products that are available.

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Go, continue, or maintain decision

This decision concerns the changes you made during this step to improve customer satisfaction.

Once you have started on a program to improve customer satisfaction, you may want to continue with the program until you run out of ways to make improvements.

After you have achieved a high level of customer satisfaction, you may be ready to increase sales and cash flow.

On the other hand, you may be satisfied with your current level of sales and cash flow, at least for the time being.

These are your choices:

  • Go on to the next step (to increase sales and cash flow)
  • Continue improving customer satisfaction
  • Maintain existing business operations

For a while, you might want to consider this decision at the end of every month. You would keep considering the decision until you have either gone on to the next step or decided to continue with current business operations indefinitely.

Go on to the Increasing Sales and Cash Flow step in your small business operation if you can answer "yes" to the following questions:

  • Have you made all the changes you feel are likely to improve customer satisfaction?
  • Are you ready to handle increased sales and cash flow?

If you have answered "no" to either of the above questions, continue making improvements to customer satisfaction and/or continue with current business operations.

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