One day, I received terrible news. A friend’s marriage, which had seemed fine for the last seven years, had suddenly turned rocky. His wife had gone to her mother’s place and refused to return.
She wanted to file for a divorce.
I asked my friend why she wanted to leave. “I have no idea,” he said. “I thought she was happy. We talked, watched movies, went out… I never felt like something was wrong.”
Here’s the thing.
Despite being an outsider, I could sense that something was missing in their married life whenever I would meet them. I would often ask him, “Bhabhiji theek hein? Sab changa? (Is your wife okay, is everything good?),” and he always said “Haan, bhai (yes, brother).”
Now he was left wondering which red flags he had missed.
This Happens in Business Also
I cannot help but draw parallels to business life. As the founder of a CRM software company, I meet many prospects who share stories of how they unexpectedly lost valuable customers based.
All seemed okay until customers suddenly became very quiet. Then one fine day, the prospects realized that business had stopped coming from these customers for quite some time. The customers didn’t even care to inform them that they were taking their business elsewhere.
What surprises leaders are how this happens even when the customer satisfaction scores are good and the relationship seems strong.
Businesses can get lured into a false sense of complacency because they think that relations with customers are good when in reality they’re not. This is why, though it sounds outrageous, customer satisfaction (CSAT) is an inaccurate metric to measure the likelihood of customers to stay with you.
Here are five reasons why.
1. No Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Many businesses have no time to conduct CSAT surveys. Or their customer satisfaction questionnaires have vague questions like, “how satisfied are you with our company?”
Vague answers could give business leaders’ ego a massage because they get the answers they want to hear, but they don’t indicate the customer’s true satisfaction level. As a result, leaders and salespeople could be disconnected from reality and get a rude shock when customers leave.
Action Plan: Ask customers specific questions in your survey, like how satisfied are they with your product or services? What do they like about the product or services? How can you improve? Which factors influence their decision while buying the product?
2. Too Close to the Action
Like my married friend mentioned above, salespeople and leaders could become blind to subtle signs from dissatisfied customers. They could assume that since they have tea together or have known each other for a long time, everything is fine.
While everything might be fine in relation, things might not be the same in business. While closeness with customers is essential, too much of it can block the flow of meaningful information.
Action Plan: Analyze data collected for CSAT surveys in your CRM software to identify problems that you cannot see. Then take action to resolve them and intimate your customer’s services the steps you’re taking to make it easier for them to work with you.
3. Relying on Others’ Words
Many times, managers are so busy in their own work that they rely on salespeople’s words about the relations with a customer. Salespeople could say that a customer is happy, meets them regularly, and will make a purchase next month.
But while this “next month” keeps coming up in reviews, it never comes on paper. Customers don’t place orders for products because in reality, salespeople are either not in touch with them or the customer’s expectations have found a new vendor and the salespeople don’t know.
Action Plan: It’s important to crosscheck what salespeople say with their entries in the CRM software in order to keep them honest and accountable. One client of ours doesn’t accept his salespeople’s claims during reviews if he cannot find corresponding logs in the CRM. He admits that in the short term, this was painful. But in the long term, it has led to improved sales and customer retention numbers for his business.
4. Satisfied Customers Do Leave
Customers could be satisfied with your product but unexpected factors could sway their opinion. The market could slow down, a friend or colleague might convince them that your competitor is a better option, there could be a change of personnel in an important decision-making position…
Most external circumstances are not in your control. What is in your control is doing your best to provide customers with a positive experience and maintaining a strong sales pipeline to not just have enough customers but also grow your topline and bottom line.
Alternative: Satisfied customers can also leave. That’s one of the truths of business. So do your best to ensure that your customers don’t leave, but also have a Plan B – an optimized sales pipeline to keep leads (and customers) coming.
5. Most Customers Don’t Fill Questionnaires
Think about this: how many times have you filled a customer satisfaction questionnaire or survey? How many times have you answered the questions when an agent called you for the same?
Less than 10 percent of people fill surveys. Most of them are people who are either extremely happy or extremely unhappy with your service. Studying only this data could give you a skewed perspective of how customers see your product and company and set you in the wrong direction.
Alternative: Analyze metrics other than customer satisfaction, like purchase frequency, number of referrals gained, etc. to check how engaged customers are with your product.
It’s good to know that customers are satisfied with your business. But it’s better to know the specifics. Which aspects of your business are they satisfied with? What aspects are they unhappy with? What more can you do for them? What alternatives are they considering?
When you become aware of these details, you’ll understand the reason behind the CSAT scores. Then you can take the right action to help your customers achieve their goals. In turn, they will help you achieve yours.
My friend asked his wife what troubled her about their marriage. She shared what was on her mind and he took steps to address them. As a result, he successfully managed to bring her home and their marriage’s health has been improving in the last six months.
All’s well that ends well.