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Customer Satisfaction: How to Increase Customer Satisfaction in 3 Steps
Last Updated January 18th, 2011

Valeria Maltoni wrote a great article about how you should develop a content strategy for customers who already bought one of your products. To summarize, she recommends that you:

  • Confirm they made the right choice
  • Tell them what they just bought
  • Give them something to share
  • Get there early

I’m sharing this with you because this is a crucial phase in the customer life cycle. If you execute it right, you can minimize returns, prevent buyer’s remorse, and increase customer satisfaction.

What else can you do? How can you create a satisfied customer who will continue to buy more stuff from you?

1. Justify the Sale with Social Proof

When most sales are made, chances are that the buyer will have to justify the purchase to another person – a boss, spouse, or anyone that may pass judgment.

To make this go smoothly, you should arm each one of your customers with testimonials from other people and companies. Or, if you have a low return rate, you might emphasize how few people returned it.

You likely recognize this as social proof. The problem is, many people use it in the selling process, but forget about it in the post purchase phase. It works, so don’t make that mistake.

2. Surprise Customers with a Bonus

When people spend money on a product, the last thing you want them to think is “was this worth it?” To combat this, you should surprise each one of your customers with a little bonus. To elaborate, let me share the fascinating experiment that helped waiters – service professionals – increase their tips by 23%.

Picture a restaurant that offers mints on the way out. Do you think customers will leave a bigger tip if the waiter left a mint with the check? How about 2 mints? Or, what if the waiter left 1 mint, walked away, and then out of no where, went back to the table to leave an additional mint?

As you may have guessed, leaving a mint increased the tip size. However, in each scenario, the increase was different. For 1 mint, the tip was 3% higher. For 2 mints, it was 14% higher. And for the third scenario it was an amazing 23% higher. The surprise triggered the largest tip because customers didn’t expect it.

So think about this. If tips are represenative of customer satisfaction, which I believe they are, you should surprise your customers with a free, valuable bonus. They won’t expect it and it will help them answer “was it worth it?” with an enthuasiastic, head-nodding, “yes!”

Ref: Sweetening the Till: The use of Candy to increase tipping by David Strohmetz.

3. Offer Free Product Training and Support

This is a clear, business-winning decision. Nothing decreases customer satisfaction more than being confused with how to make a product work. And free product training and support will be how you alleviate this customer frustration.

For example, the amazing e-learning software provider, Articulate, provides a free blog, for customers and non-customers, that teaches people how to create more effective e-learning training material. I had the chance to interview Artciulate’s CEO Adam Schwartz and he said this blog helped keep customers happy and bring in new business.

Why does this work? For starters, when people spend money on something, they tend to doubt themselves and their ability to make the product work right. With detailed, free training, you’ll alleviate that self-doubt and win a life-long customer.

The Bottom Line

Just because you made the sale, it doesn’t mean the work is over. Your job is to turn one-time buyers into loyal customers. If you follow these strategies, you should be well on your way. What do you think?

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24 comments Leave a comment
Jennifer M

Great Work..I agree Follow up is key…and Training and more training is important…


Love this article too, Our company has taught us, ot sure if other people do but I know I do is I get on the phone after someone orders and I explain what they got and Coach them through it al FOR FREE.

James Sandberg

I agree with Mike on this… it’s a relationship. This is great advice for how to get the followup aspect right in customer relationship management. thank you!

Aradia G. of Aradia's Hand

I’m going to have to read that first article referenced to understand what “get there early” means, but other than that great article.

I’m working on setting up a testimonials page. I had some from my first store that were built in, the next platform I used I didn’t get any feedback at all even though there was a place for it, and the one I use now doesn’t currently have that functionality (although you can leave comments on product pages – they’re not really set up for that purpose I think?)

I have a story about a bonus too. I recently bought handmade (which is my market) in the way of a tool for some of my own work. I was super excited to have it arrive earlier than expected and to have a free gift included inside. I was so happy that I actually made the item my next product review and have put it out over social media a few times as well as gushing to everyone about my adorable new toy.

For the last point, while most of my products are self-explanatory, it goes without saying that including care instructions & use are a good idea. People forget, the listings go away, they may delete the emails, and it’s just pretty much industry standard to include that stuff when you sell these types of products. That being said I still hadn’t made it a habit which I’m now making sure to fix.


Excellent post and something that is surely missing in the IM niche.

This info has given me some good ideas that I’m going to work on employing to increase customer satisfaction for my products.

Thank you.

rebecca from PA

Gosh there is so much to think about and so little time to apply it all! And then to figure out how to apply it to my niche…I am a little slow on that one. But I start to ‘get it’ the more I read your stuff.


Thanks for the tip, Derek. Now I see more stuff to rethink about my plugin sales. This after sale approach is the one that makes the difference. #2 is great !

Dave Doolin

Overall, excellent.

However, the “free blog” won’t work for me, because it’s already free!

Maybe free video or something not on the blog.

Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion

Lovin it Derek….#3 is key IMO. One of my businesses is a swimming pool company, and we’ve used video as one of our main means of continually giving value to our existing clients. Essentially, we’ve tried to set up the website so that if one of our customers ever has a question, they should be able to find an immediate answer via video. This not only has worked extremely well, but it also greatly reduces the number of calls in to our office of customers who are in the dark and need to be walked through something.

Keep up the good work!

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Mike Smarr

Excellent article. Many times the customer is forgotten about once the sale is made. The easiest person to sell something to, should be the person you’ve already sold something to before. It’s no longer a transaction. It’s a relationship.

Ashwin / PWB

You have it bang – on the point 2. I have seen it many times and customers love you for the bonus (and sometimes they reward you back with the monetary bonus too…)

Good post here Deren…

Maren Kate

Absolutely GREAT article, this was just what I needed as I am working on a product right now > just was reading Seth Godin and he seemed to say the same thing, give somebody something AFTER the purchase that is an added bonus. Thanks!


    For sure. The surprise “AFTER” the purchase pretty much ensures that you’ll have a satisfied customer who will continue to buy stuff from you. Sure, it might seem like a lot of effort, but it sure is worth it.

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Darren Scott Monroe

Great points I would also add to follow up with them regarding the results of the use of your products or service. One thing to train them another to followup afterward.


    That’s a great point for sure. Following up with people and helping them through some troubles is a sure-fire way to keep them satisfied. Might be time consuming and costly in the short-term, but you’ll definitely win a customer for life.

      Darren Scott Monroe

      True but consider it an investment. Most people don’t look at the fact that that customer could refer a ton of people.

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What if product training is one of the services you sell?


    If you’re selling a product that people can’t use out of the box, there’s a problem. I think free product training should help customers get set up with basic functionality whereas advanced product training (something you can sell) should offer additional functionality.


      This sort of reminds me of DIYthemes, because you get a ton of help in the forum after you purchase. This is a great article, I’m definitely a big fan of customer service too it’s like what every customer always want’s when they buy something.

      Gregory Ciotti

      I obviously can’t help but agree here.

      Maybe Mike can elaborate a bit more, but what kind of product could possibly warrant PAID product training right out of the box?

      If you’re going to sell product training for your own product, it better be damn amazing, because in this day in age it’s a standard to include with most products, not a paid addition.

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