By Jack Miles, Associate Director, Northstar Research Partners

Albert Einstein's quote, ‘Only a life lived for others is the life worthwhile’, could not be truer for brands operating in an era when a reputation for delivering customer satisfaction can act as a marketing trump card. A satisfied customer can be equivalent to many advertising £’s as they will act as a human marcomms tool for the brands they support, through enhanced brand trust, the power of recommendation and sharing positive experiences through social media. Here follows five steps to getting customers to this satisfaction haven:

1. Defining the Customer
Before a brand launches a customer satisfaction-enhancing campaign, it must define who its customers are. Are customers defined by regularity of purchase, quantity of purchases, chronology of purchasing or simply anyone listed on a customer database? Establishing a target is vital to making sure a brand is enhancing the satisfaction of the right people.

2. Defining Satisfaction Outcome
Once a brand knows whose experience it is trying to enhance, it is vital to set the parameters of what constitutes satisfaction. Are customers to be defined as satisfied through fiscal measures such as increased spend? Or is their satisfaction to be measured by referrals they make on a brand’s behalf? Attitudinally, brands may look at research metrics such as the Net Promoter Score or increased trust and loyalty to gauge how satisfied their customers are.

3. Measuring Satisfaction
In the data-centric world in which we now operate there are many means by which a brand can measure its satisfaction - whether it is through customer’s behavioural data or ad-hoc research. Ultimately, taking various composite elements from both of these streams and integrating them allows for the most robust measurements of satisfaction. This means combining how customers evaluate you in core attitudinal metrics (Net Promoter Score, trust, loyalty, brand affinity) with behavioural data (trended spend, share of wallet, stated future purchase) to achieve a holistic perspective that will allow a brand to evaluate the extent to which they satisfy their customers and how they can increase their performance in this area.

4. Socialise Satisfaction
The customer should be at the heart of all brands, and therefore their satisfaction is paramount to all constituents in the brand management process. This means brands need to internally socialise their work over the previous three steps to make sure there is internal alignment in how brands approach the pursuit of customer satisfaction. A core method of doing so involves satisfaction workshops where different business units congregate around the issue of increasing satisfaction and integrate their thinking to build a forward path on how to increase performance on core satisfaction metrics.

5. Live the Three Cs: Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
Having defined the pathway to increasing customers’ satisfaction, brands must ensure they deliver on their satisfaction improvement plan in a consistent manner across all customer touch points. This means they will maintain identity, ensure customers know what to expect from a brand and deliver on their promises from the point of initial communication all the way through to product delivery. In a world of uncertainty, this consistency is central to keeping customers satisfied, by quelling anxieties around uncertainty and consistently delivering in relation to customer demands.