Whether you lead a business, a charitable organization, a church, or any other organization attempting to attract and keep people, you have customers. You may call them clients, members, attenders, or customers, but one thing is certain. If you want to attract and maintain them, you have to satisfy them. The very first and basic step is that you have to know who you are serving.Who is your customer? Does your team know? In today’s culture, it is inevitable that your customers, your clients have changed. They are more demanding, more vocal, more informed and more exposed than ever before. Their rising expectations compel us all to raise our game to stay in the game.Relationships are always more emotional than intellectual. It’s a mistake to treat customer relationships as business agreements. They must be treated as an interaction between your emotions and those of the customer. To do this, work on 3 personal relationship skills:Self-awareness: Self-awareness allows you to understand and identify the emotions you're feeling and predict how those emotions might affect your behavior. You can compensate so that you don't do or say something that you'll later regret and even use your emotions to build a stronger bond.Empathy:Empathy is the ability to feel what the other person is likely to be feeling. Empathy builds a stronger relationship.Realistic Optimism:The best way to simultaneously satisfy both a customer's practical and emotional needs is to combine realism and optimism into your process.As you use those skills and provide customer satisfaction, you build trust. You make them feel valued. In turn, they boost your business, because satisfied people tell people. “Sustaining an audience is hard,” Bruce Springsteen once said. “It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.” He was talking about his route to music stardom, yet his words are just as applicable to the world of customer experience. Consistency is exceptionally powerful. Handling problems NOW makes huge difference. It reduces negative word of mouth. McKinsey found that an unhappy customer tells between 9-15 people about their experience. In fact, 13% of unhappy customers tell over 20 people about their experience.It is far cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones. It costs six to seven times more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing customers. It costs much more in time and energy and money to get a new client, a new member than to keep a current one. Imagine if you concentrated a little more on customer retention. How do you think that could help you with improving customer satisfaction and retaining customers?What kills customer satisfaction? Researchers say the top customer satisfaction killers are these:Bad customer service. 80% of business owners believe their employees offer great service, while only 8% of their customers agree. Lackluster customer service kills you.Poor social/social media skills.Like it or not, your customers turn to social media to learn about your business. If your company ignores or irritates customers on Facebook or Twitter, it takes a toll on customer satisfaction.Automated support. 40% of consumers ranked human support as the key improvement a business could make to boost customer satisfaction.No appreciation. A business that takes its customers for granted will get poor satisfaction ratings. Customers want to feel valued and appreciated. When a company fails to show appreciation or ignores feedback, loyalty will dwindle, and customers will leave.How do you measure customer satisfaction? Start with the basics.Use the right survey tool.The average person needs a compelling reason to share feedback. If your surveys don’t engage people, you’ll only hear from your happiest and unhappiest customers—and their responses tell you nothing about the vast majority. To avoid that, make it easy for customers to respond. Use branded, mobile surveys that customers can take anywhere, anytime.Make the survey easy to complete for higher survey response rates.Take care with the length and ask questions with clarity.Collect and analyze the data.Nothing will drop your credibility faster than surveying and not using the data. How do you sustain customer satisfaction? Customer satisfaction is never a one-and-done goal. Keeping people requires constant effort and TLC.Provide personalized customer service. Build relationships by taking the time to get to know them.Improve employee morale. You can’t shield your customers from negative employee attitudes, but you can work on increasing employee morale. Happy employees who feel heard are more likely to buy in to the success of your business.Offer perks. Consider offering small perks that people will remember. Small gestures go a long way.Start a loyalty program. Even churches can emphasis in appropriate ways the benefits of loyalty. Find a way to let people know you value their commitment.Develop customer appreciation practices. A “thank you” is always in season.. Acts of gratitude build community ties, and just make people feel pretty good.Improve efficiency. Make efforts to reduce response times, speed up web performance, and catch hiccups.Solve problems quickly and favorably. Satisfaction often rests on how quickly you can solve a customer’s problem. Make sure your employees are trained to handle problems efficiently and effectively as they arise.Follow up. Customer interactions don’t end when you offer a solution. When they’re unhappy with the answer, customers often go silent, never to be heard from again. Following up after an issue appears to be resolved is critical to sustaining satisfaction.Collect feedback. Do you see a pattern here? If you want the hard truth on how your business is doing, ask your customers. By collecting customer feedback and listening to it, you can identify weak spots and repair them. Satisfying your clients is the only way to long-term success and satisfaction for you, too. Work it.