How do you know when your customers are satisfied?

Is it because they continue to purchase or use your product or service? It’s not enough to assume that repeat purchases indicate customer satisfaction; after all, we can all think of at least one product that we do not enjoy using but continue to purchase for a financial or logistical reason. If that’s your product, how can you make the experience more satisfying for your customers?

What about the customers who only purchase once? Why are they not repeating their experience? What can you learn about how to better satisfy customers like these in the future?

You don’t need us to tell you the importance of customer satisfaction. However, if you’re just asking your customers to rank your product on a scale of 1 to 5, you’re not really understanding whether or not your customers are satisfied. Instead, use one of these creative methods of tracking customer satisfaction, and start understanding what people are really saying about your company.


Whether it’s a Twitter hashtag or an Instagram text tag, start searching for your company’s name or your particular product across social media. Have someone on your team spend part of each day looking for the ways your company is mentioned online. Are you mentioned positively, or negatively? Are people raving about your product, or whining about it?

The secret to understanding how your company is mentioned online is to search creatively. Most marketers simply search for the company’s name, like Walter’s Widgets, but customers don’t think that way. Instead, they use clever tags, like #widgetfail or #WOWget. Searching for creative variations on your company name helps you understand what your customers are really saying about your products.


The customer survey is as old as business itself, but few businesses apply customer satisfaction surveys effectively. The first trick is to catch the customer at the right time; ideally your survey should hit their inbox one to two days after the product is purchased. Include an incentive, like a $5 coupon on the next order, and make sure the survey length and incentive are clearly stated in the email subject line: “Walter’s Widgets Two-Minute Survey for $5 Coupon.”

Secondly, don’t forget to ask fun, open-ended questions. The goal is to make the customer think about the question and respond honestly; instead of asking people to rate products from 1 to 5, ask them which part of your product was the most unexpected, or which part of your product they would replace with something else. Don’t ask too many questions; ideally, your survey should fit on a single computer screen and take no more than three minutes to complete.


One of the best customer service experiences I’ve ever had came from famed ice cream gurus Ben & Jerry’s. I was frustrated about being unable to find lemonade ice cream; a representative saw my tweets and began asking me questions about the kind of ice cream I wanted. Turns out Ben & Jerry’s does offer a lemon-flavored Greek frozen yogurt, which was exactly what I wanted (and tasted fantastic). Had there not been a representative ready to have a conversation, I would have remained convinced that there was a lack of lemonade-flavored frozen treats; instead, my satisfaction with Ben & Jerry’s products and service increased and my brand loyalty grew even stronger.


Do you let your customers submit product reviews directly to your website? Do you invite them to send in pictures of themselves using your product? Allowing your customers to speak freely about your product on your webpage is a great way of starting conversations and collecting customer satisfaction information.

Customers have turned Amazon and Yelp reviews into haiku, advice column and short story. Open up your website and ask customers to contribute something both constructive and creative. Don’t forget to respond to your customers’ comments and reviews, whether via inline comments or via email, to let your customers know their thoughts have been heard.


In addition to collecting customer reviews on your website, start collecting customer images. Fairfax, VA retailer ThinkGeek collects numerous “Customer Action Shots” photos which it prominently displays on its site. Other retailers ask customers to tag their images when they post them to Tumblr, Instagram or other services; any image tagged #WaltersWidgets gets displayed on the Walter’s Widgets website. This not only lets you see how your product is being used – are customers using workarounds to compensate for a weak point, like wrapping a handle in an oven mitt? – but also lets you see customer satisfaction in action.

These are only a few of the creative ways to track customer satisfaction in real-time. Before you think of weakening your brand by a boring, ineffective method of satisfaction tracking (nobody wants to push buttons on a phone tree), use these creative techniques to generate better satisfaction metrics and new ideas to improve your customer experience.

Do you have other favorite satisfaction metrics? Have you ever searched for your company name followed by the word “fail?” Let us know in the comments.