Designing For Customer Satisfaction: How To See The Big Picture


It’s an old piece of retail wisdom: a satisfied customer tells two people, but a dissatisfied one tells two hundred – a law we play out daily on websites like Yelp or in the comments section of social media. Unhappy customers seek outlets that will magnify their voices, while most happy customers are quiet, less likely to leave a review or feedback. You’ll never hear from them, especially if you don’t ask. But luckily, if you’re determined to design for customer satisfaction, there are a number of key steps you can take. 

It Starts With Your Staff

When we talk about design, the term doesn’t just refer to aesthetic or technical choices. Design includes other critical strategies like how you support your staff, because happy staff creates happy customers. They’re more patient and accommodating and better able to sustain interactions with unhappy customers. Most importantly, happy staff are both personally and professionally supported because you’ve given them the tools to resolve customer complaints and conflicts. Be prepared to ask what they need and to materially respond with new policies and benefits.

Know Your Audience

If you want to make every customer unhappy, the simplest thing to do is to try to make everyone happy – which is to say, it just can’t be done. That’s why it’s so important to understand who your ideal customer is. With a well-developed customer profile, you can evaluate any feedback you receive with a critical eye, weighing insights from those in your core audience more heavily than that from incidental buyers who are unlikely to contribute meaningfully to sales in the long-term.

Survey Says…

In the famous game show Family Feud, answers are revealed as the host announces the catchphrase, “Survey says…” and while most gameshow tactics aren’t appropriate for professional settings, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of surveys. In fact, just as you can better support your employees by asking them about what they want and need, you can increase customer satisfaction by directly surveying your customers about their experiences. You just need to be smart about how you do it.

When it comes to developing customer satisfaction surveys, it’s easy to miss the mark by asking the wrong questions, making the survey too long, or delivering it at the wrong time. Using a design optimization service can help you hone your survey, as can simple steps like emphasizing clarity in survey language and limiting the number of feedback choices.

Ramp Up Responsiveness

One major source of customer dissatisfaction is insufficient responsiveness; when users have a complaint, they don’t want to wait several days, or even several hours, to hear back from you. No, particularly if they come to you during traditional business hours, they want you to answer them right away, and social media can help with this, particularly platforms like Facebook, which publicly displays availability and average response time.

Even if you can’t maintain the staffing levels to meet all customer service requests in real time, adding an automated chat feature can help close the gap by directing users to helpful resources, ensuring their questions reach the right staff members, and generally making customers feel like you understand their needs. Though chatbots aren’t the most popular, especially with disgruntled customers, they can do some heavy lifting with users who just need a little direction.

Customer satisfaction is undoubtedly more of an art than a science, and while using tools like customer satisfaction surveys and live chat platforms can help, there’s no quantified set of website proportions or colors that will ensure everyone is getting what they want. 

Instead, satisfaction ultimately relies on the human element. Communicate, be responsive, and cultivate a staff with the tools to respond quickly and with care, and you’ll have customers who come back time and again.