How to Ensure Customer Satisfaction

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Personal MBA" by Josh Kaufman. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How do you make sure your customers leave satisfied? What can you do to maximize your customers’ satisfaction with your products and services?

Prioritizing customer satisfaction is essential to business success. According to Josh Kaufman, the author of The Personal MBA, the key to customer satisfaction is the efficiency of your operations. The more efficient your operations are, the more resources you can devote to improving your product.

Here’s how to ensure customer satisfaction by optimizing your processes.

Satisfied Customers Are the Key to Long-Term Success

In his book The Personal MBA, business expert Josh Kaufman explains how to ensure customer satisfaction beyond customer service. The key, he says, is to make your operations as efficient as possible.

Kaufman argues that successful businesses pay as much attention to meeting or surpassing customer expectations after a sale as they do on attracting new customers. This is because satisfied customers often become repeat customers and offer a reliable source of long-term revenue. They also give positive reviews that bolster your reputation—thus attracting even more customers free of charge.

On the other hand, businesses that fail to meet customer expectations create disappointed customers. According to Kaufman, disappointed customers abandon you for your competitors and leave bad reviews that undermine your reputation. This damages your business in multiple ways: It repels possible customers and forces you to allocate resources to repair your reputation and acquire new customers. These extra expenses eat into any profits you do manage to make and get in the way of your success.

Optimize Systems and Procedures to Ensure Satisfaction

Kaufman argues that the best way to ensure customer satisfaction is to make sure that your business operations are as efficient and reliable as possible. The more efficient your operations, the more time and money you save running your business. This leaves you in a better position to provide a high-quality service that outdoes your competitors—resulting in more sales, increased profits, and long-term success.

To optimize your operations, you first need to understand all of the tasks that your business relies on. Consider your product or service and write down all of the steps it takes to:

  • Create it: This includes designing, manufacturing, and ensuring quality control.
  • Market it: This includes your branding and media campaigns.
  • Process orders: This varies depending on whether you deal directly with your customers or use intermediaries to handle your orders.
  • Deliver it: This depends on the nature of your product or service and whether you’re reliant on distribution channels to fulfill your orders.
  • Follow up on it: This includes providing customer support and troubleshooting problems.

Once you’ve outlined all of the tasks involved in running your business, consider how you can make incremental improvements to save time, effort, and money. Kaufman suggests considering ways to:

  • Streamline them: This might include automating some of the tasks or eliminating unnecessary tasks.
  • Cut costs while maintaining quality: This might include cutting intermediaries out or changing suppliers.
  • Improve them: This might include investing in resources such as equipment or more employees.

Prioritize Improvements That Will Make the Most Impact

As you work through this optimization process, you’ll come up with a long list of both minor and major improvements that you can make. Kaufman suggests prioritizing those improvements that will make the biggest difference to your efficiency and profits. Consider impact and possible consequences to determine how much difference an improvement will make.  

Impact: Each improvement, even the simplest ones, will require additional resources to implement, but some will have a much larger impact than others. For example, negotiating rates for ad-hoc office supplies will probably take the same amount of time and effort as negotiating rates for your manufacturing facilities. Both tasks require your resources but only one of them is going to make a significant impact on your bottom line.

Possible consequences: By their nature, business operations are interdependent. Changes introduced to improve one operation often create consequences for multiple operations. For example, redesigning your packaging materials impacts your marketing department—because they have to spend extra resources updating their content to reflect the new design.

Kaufman suggests separating your list of improvements into two groups: Those that will massively improve your efficiency or profits (your priority list) and those that won’t. Before proceeding with an improvement on your priority list, consider all of the possible consequences it will have on the rest of your operations. Paying attention to these two factors will help you plan ahead and allocate the necessary resources to successfully implement the change.

How to Ensure Customer Satisfaction

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  • A comprehensive overview of how businesses work
  • The five key processes that underpin every business
  • How to identify profitable opportunities to ensure business success

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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