In 2016, it’s no longer enough to have customer satisfaction ratings that are just… okay. Social media has amplified people’s voices, and you can’t afford for your customers to share negative experiences online.

Even so, it happens more often than you might think. 59% of people between 25 and 35 share poor customer experiences online, according to data from New Voice Media.

At the other end of the spectrum, happy, satisfied customers become the repeat buyers who keep your business alive and well. They also bring new customers your way. American Express noted that one satisfied customer can equal up to nine referrals.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at five more reasons you should constantly monitor and improve your customer satisfaction metrics.

The Importance of Customer Satisfaction Metrics

1. Customer satisfaction metrics help predict future revenue.

Satisfied customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, while unsatisfied customers tend to look elsewhere when they’re ready to buy. In fact, data from Temkin Group suggests that companies with happy customers have as much as a 16% advantage over competitors in consumers’ willingness to buy, reluctance to switch brands, and likelihood of recommending them.

Not sure how to start measuring customer satisfaction? The Net Promoter Score survey is a quick, one-question survey that reveals a lot about customer health. Customer referrals are key to long-term business growth, and customer satisfaction fuels those referrals. NPS surveys ask customers how likely they are to recommend your company to others. The results help you measure overall customer health and identify potential brand advocates or at-risk accounts in the mix.

Customer success teams can use NPS survey results to take action before customer churn does. These proactive measures reduce overall business costs by retaining rather than creating new revenue. And on the flip side, customer success managers can upsell healthy, engaged customers, boosting the lifetime value of these accounts. In this way, customer satisfaction is critical to the entire organization’s bottom line, and customer satisfaction metrics help track overall business health.

2. Customers switch companies because of bad customer service.

Research from Accenture found that 68% of customers have switched providers because of bad customer service. Even more than pricing, people seem to look at overall customer experience when deciding who they’ll buy from. It makes sense. Wouldn’t you pay a few more dollars for service that leaves you smiling—or at least not fuming?

So how do you keep tabs on the quality of your customer service? It’s simple. Customer satisfaction surveys measure near-term customer happiness. Send them after support calls, online purchases, branch visits, and other regular customer-company interactions. These measures serve as a quality check for customer-facing interactions and motivate teams to maintain the kind of service your company can stand by.

It doesn’t end at measurement though. Take survey feedback seriously; follow up with customers who respond negatively. Unhappy customers can inspire the most progress, pointing out where improvement is needed. Tough as they are, these conversations can help you create a great customer experience.

Make it known that customer satisfaction is a priority too. When customers see that their feedback is valued, they’re more likely to keep giving it. And when they see resulting action, even better. Everyone—employees and customers included—is contributing to the company’s success.

3. Customer satisfaction efforts help you outpace your competition.

In saturated markets, customer satisfaction sparks competition for customer loyalty. Organizations like Zappos and Amazon have long focused on customer satisfaction, and their success affirms their customer-centric philosophy. Data from Walker indicates that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator for B2B sales.

That means now, more than ever, you need to give your customers a voice. Surveys with open-ended responses let your customers tell you exactly what’s on their mind. Their free-form answers can reveal breakdown in company processes, product and service popularity, and the qualities that differentiate you from the competition.

It may seem obvious, but that last insight is often undervalued. Seeing the competition through customers’ eyes can transform brand positioning in marketing and sales. When companies focus on delivering what customers want, long-term growth becomes a lot more achievable.

4. It’s cheaper to keep customers than to get customers.

Econsultancy data shows that around 70% of marketers say it costs less to retain a customer than it does to acquire a new one. With all the marketing dollars you spend roping in new buyers, that’s not hard to believe. If you want to increase your return on investment, keep your current customers happy.

Sometimes this means going beyond customer satisfaction surveys and reevaluating product and marketing efforts. To offer a personalized, omni-channel customer experience, you need to understand the needs, interests, and motivations of your customer base.

Marketing and product surveys help accomplish this. They send the message that customers have a say in the company roadmap. Not to mention, customer data from product surveys can inspire future releases and help development teams prioritize their existing projects.

5. Customer satisfaction surveys make for smarter marketing.

Customer feedback can take the mystery out of a marketing budget, showing you where you should spend the most. For example, survey responses on shopper interests help marketers plan campaigns around the products customers actually like. This kind of input can quickly declutter your agenda so you can spend more time on content that drives conversions.

Marketers can poll website visitors, subscribers, and churned customers through online surveys, then use the results to hone in on their target personas. No more grabbing at straws, guessing who likes you most. Ask the right questions and your audience will tell you exactly what you need to know.

Wrap-up

It’s clear that customer satisfaction metrics are essential for any business. They impact your bottom line and shape your influence with current and potential customers. Online surveys help you monitor customer health, identify weaknesses in the business, and correct broken processes before they become major issues.

If you focus on making your customers happy by listening to what they have to say, you’ll soon outpace the competitors who don’t.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016. It’s been updated for accuracy and freshness.

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