Can customer satisfaction really reduce stress in the workplace? You better believe it! There are countless stressful situations where anxiety, indecision, and self-questioning could be conquered by knowing precisely what customers think.
I know, customer satisfaction might seem like an odd way to stress-bust. But it’s remarkable how many stressful workplace scenarios could be improved by focusing on it.
So wouldn’t it be great to securely and repeatedly counteract stress?
First off, let’s be clear about what customer satisfaction is and why we should care.
Or, if you’d rather skip to the action – check out the seven stress-busting sections below.
What is customer satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction describes whether customers’ expectations with a company, product, or service are met or exceeded.
Customer satisfaction is often analyzed as an average, and used by Marketers and Business Owners as a key indicator of a company’s overall success.
Numerous methods exist for customer satisfaction measurement. In many instances it involves a combination of written customer feedback and numeric scores to determine customers’ levels of satisfaction. Such as from 1 to 5 (where 1 is low satisfaction and 5 is high satisfaction).
The average of this score then determines the levels of customer satisfaction for the company.
Scores are collected from customers in various ways, but usually involve a customer survey or feedback form.
Why should we care?
OK, so customer satisfaction is determined by a score or qualitative feedback. That’s all well and good – but why should we care?
On the surface it might seem that customer satisfaction is something only relevant to Marketing and Customer Service teams. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that it’s relevant to every department.
It’s incredibly important to every single one of us.
Because in the modern workplace everyone is directly or indirectly connected with customers.
Customer satisfaction benefits customers
With luck, everything we accomplish during a working day should benefit our customers. So it logically follows that each one of us needs a clear understanding of what makes customers happy.
Knowledge gained through a focus on customer satisfaction can positively affect the whole company.
Whereas poor customer satisfaction levels and understanding can lead to:
- fear and uncertainty in decision making, at every level
- lost opportunities in customer interactions
- negative communication with customers
- unsolved recurring issues experienced by customers
- poor prioritization and wasted efforts
- reactive instead of proactive action
- lower motivation
I’ve had the pleasure to work with and learn from some truly exceptional customer-focused people, especially so here at TeamViewer where customer feedback is actively encouraged.
Without further ado, let’s look at how we can use customer satisfaction to reduce stress in the workplace.
Stress-Buster #1 – Overcome Fear of the Unknown
What do customers think of what we’re doing? What if they’re unhappy? What if we find out we’re doing something wrong?
Yikes. It’s a tough first obstacle on the way to smashing workplace stress. Fear of the unknown is real and very understandable.
The problem is that it’s often quite comfortable to exist without real insight into what our customers think of what we’re doing. And to shake the nest seems foolish.
But the fact is that stress rears its ugly head when we’re left to second-guess whether a decision we’re taking, or a path we’re walking is the right one.
A Hiking Analogy
On a lovely summer’s day walking through the countryside, reaching a fork in the path forces us to choose. Shall we take the left path, or the right?
We eventually choose to take the left path. But no matter how fantastic the views are on the path we’ve chosen, in the back of our minds will be a niggling worry that we missed out on an opportunity for an even better view.
Unbeknownst to us, the left path is in fact the better experience. And we’re ruining it by worrying about the right path.
This rather clumsy analogy describes how uncertainty breeds stress.
Knowledge of our customers’ satisfaction with what we’re doing (positive or negative) removes all doubt, and makes the choices ahead clearer and easier to take.
It’s like adding a signpost to that fork in the road with “Trust me, this is the better route”.
Stress-Buster #2 – Make it easy to deal with feedback
What do you suppose happened to the last annual survey you filled out?
If you didn’t hear back from the company afterwards, chances are that after a small stopover in a desk drawer, it landed in the shredder, and then the bin. Or as good as.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
Frustrating, right? And there’s a chance that the experience might have left a slight dent in the reputation of that company in your view.
Sure, it feels good to ask customers what they think about what we’re up to. But to whose benefit is it when their responses aren’t used?
You might have heard people say: “All feedback is good feedback.”
There’s a lot of truth to that. However, I’d suggest a slight alteration to it: “All managed feedback is good feedback.”
The difference one word can make.
Let’s paint two scenarios.
Annual or quarterly feedback
In the first, imagine you have asked customers for feedback as part of an annual survey.
1,000 responses sit on your desk. They’re full of lengthy, valuable comments. Some positive criticism, some praise, and the occasional complaint.
The sheer volume of feedback is overwhelming. Plus, you’ve got other tasks to fulfil and deadlines to hit.
Feedback gathered and handed over in one huge go, unfiltered and unstructured, can produce a massive headache for the most open-minded of people.
And normally ends up neatly stored away in drawers, or a special folder deep in the depths of your server.
After scanning through a sample, the rest get filed away for a rainy day.
There’s no time to respond to customers to thank them, or help solve an issue they may be experiencing.
With no response from the company, and no action visible as a result of the feedback, customers are left frustrated.
Customer satisfaction survey best practices = Managed feedback
In the second scenario, feedback gathered in a manageable way removes stress from the customer’s side, as well as yours.
In fact, customer feedback is regularly requested from customers who have recently experienced your company’s product, service, or offering.
As a result a steady trickle of feedback reaches you every day.
With only a handful of feedback results to manage, you have the time and headspace to read through each one.
Positive feedback is shared with the team. Negative feedback is acted upon to immediately resolve the issue with the customer, in a similar way to managing a customer support ticket like a champ.
All customers are thanked for their feedback.
Managed feedback is collected in a structured way, and the collecting of it is just the first step. Dissemination, Action, and Follow-up must be the next steps.
Stress-Buster #3 – Don’t take it personally
Ask customers for an honest opinion, and you’ll get honest answers.
Sometimes customers may have run into an issue, and be pretty upset about it.
As the receiver of that feedback it is easy to take that criticism personally. Stress, anxiety, or even anger may flare up inside you as a response.
A completely natural response to something negative. But, is negative feedback actually bad?
The flip-side of negative feedback
Sure, in some ways of course it might be seen to be. It’s always nicer to be told you’re doing something well rather than that there’s many things you could do better.
But if you look at it a different way, negative feedback is actually an amazing opportunity. There’s no need to stress about it.
It’s not about you as a person. Don’t take it that way.
Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you are the customer and have gone through the series of experiences they have.
What you’ll realize is that they have had a hard time, have their own pressures to complete tasks and meet goals, and they’re simply looking for help to get past a blockade.
Faced with negative feedback or low customer satisfaction, we have the unique opportunity to turn a situation around and win a customer over for life.
Because often a company’s most valuable and loyal customers are those who have experienced top notch customer service on the back of a complaint or honest feedback.
Never take any negative feedback personally. View it as an opportunity to be a hero in the eyes of that customer.
Get to the heart of the problem and do your utmost to fix it.
Stress-Buster #4 – Eliminate common problems
With a constant stream of valuable feedback coming in, you may begin to notice patterns.
Occasionally there will be an issue that crops up for many customers over a period of time.
Whilst it’s fantastic to set about fixing each issue on an individual basis, it’s much more effective to find a permanent fix for the issue itself.
Of course, that’s almost always easier said than done.
But the end result will be many customers spared the frustration of running into that issue, as well as time and energy saved by you and your team.
Not just for customer service teams
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this stress-busting advice only applies to customer service reps, product builders, or service personnel.
The benefits of customer satisfaction run much deeper than that when feedback flows throughout a company.
- Manufacturers might discover changes are needed in production processes to improve quality
- Sales teams in the field may discover a need to alter their verbal descriptions to ensure clearer understanding
- Bar managers could find out extra personnel are needed on Saturday nights to reduce serving times
- HR staff may identify a need to create and fill a whole new position in the company to facilitate meeting customer expectations
- Delivery staff might be able to accommodate delivery times to meet customer requirements
- Engineers might prioritize designing and integrating a superior product component into a piece of hardware
- Caterers might learn that more cheese sandwiches would go down well
- Marketers may find out customers prefer receiving information via email
- Plumbers might ascertain that many customers would prefer Sunday’s to weekdays
- Web developers might be able to improve the experience in purchasing items for delivery
- Support teams might find out customers desire 24hour support
And the list goes on.
The best part is that with the right attitude and process in place, all of this becomes easy.
Stress-Buster #5 – Stop wasting effort
Ugh. A real bug-bear. Spending time and effort on something only to find out when it’s far too late that it’s all been for nothing.
Thankfully not an issue which crops up here. But I’ve been there before. We all have.
When it happens, stress-levels rocket, productivity plummets, and a sense of hopelessness takes control.
If you’ve followed the stress-busting customer satisfaction steps above, you should now be in the position to get to know exactly what matters to customers and what doesn’t.
It’s a liberating experience.
Not only will you be able to scratch off tasks that don’t meet the criteria, but you’ll also be able to more easily prioritize the tasks that remain.
A lesson learned the hard way
To give you an example: in my role as a writer and editor, I once lovingly created a ten week long email course packed full of customer service tips.
I’d spent months crafting each email to deliver a nugget of pure gold information. And the entire course was meant to help someone learn the basics and progress all the way through to advanced tips.
I was incredibly proud of the result, and was certain it would be a hit with customers.
Nervously I clicked ‘Publish’ – launching the email course out into the world.
Did the world care as much as I did? Nope.
The result was exactly zero sign-ups. Customers just weren’t interested.
Hugely disheartened, the following week I quickly created a single page PDF checklist of customer service steps.
Without much fuss, I made it available for download to the very same customer-base.
To my surprise, the resource that had taken an hour to create took off where the time-intensive one didn’t.
Had I known more about the customers I was serving then, I would have saved a huge number of hours, lots of energy, and nerves.
Stress-Buster #6 – be Proactive, not reactive
Ever feel yourself falling into the trap of working reactively? By which I mean working with changing priorities, feeling like you’re always playing catch-up, or handling surprising situations as they arise.
It’s a stressful way of working. Often it results in a massively reduced overview of what’s going on.
Plans are thrown aside, increasing the amount of wasted effort.
With customer satisfaction processes put in place, a steady flow of feedback coming through, and a clear idea of what matters most to your customers, suddenly working proactively becomes possible.
Easier planning and project management
There are loads of great tips for successful project management. But the best approach in the world won’t save you stress unless you’re able to work proactively.
What I mean is, with a deeper understanding of customer satisfaction comes a clearer picture of what lays ahead.
Projects, tasks, and priorities can all be worked on stress-free with a degree of confidence that plans won’t need to suddenly change to an unexpected new development.
Stress-Buster #7 – Get motivated
And finally, it’s time to enjoy the feel-good times.
Not surprisingly, motivation flows more freely once you’ve:
- Overcome fear of the unknown and committed to understanding your customers’ satisfaction levels
- Made it ridiculously easy to manage feedback from customers
- Stopped taking negative feedback personally and focused on the opportunity
- Eliminated recurring issues customers have been experiencing
- Cut out all the wasted energy by focusing on what’s important to your customers
- Hit the kill switch on working reactively, and retaken control of a proactive way of working
Can you imagine what you’d be capable of if you started using customer satisfaction best practices, and were freed from all the stress caused by not doing those things?
Pretty awesome, right?
And the best part is that motivation can make you impervious to stress from other sources.
It really is surprising just how many ways customer satisfaction can reduce workplace stress and send productivity levels through the roof.
It requires a leap of faith from the get-go. But the benefits far outweigh any barriers we can construct in our minds against it.
Once you decide to commit to truly understanding customers, what they think of what you’re doing, what their needs and wants are, and how to easily work that into part of your daily business, you’ll be flying.
Have you had any experiences like this? Or do you have any questions or comments? Leave a comment below!