Over time, several words have been used to describe a company's focus on customer satisfaction.
They include; customer experience, customer focus, customer service and relationship management to name a few.
In recent years, a new phrase has firmly worked its way into business lexicon, customer happiness.
Whilst it could be argued that there is sometimes some confusion or a lack of clarity about the true meaning of any of the customer suffixes, at least happiness provides us with a clear definition;
“a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happy mental states may reflect judgements by a person about their overall well-being.”
Customer happiness might sound like a fluffy business goal, but it’s a critical to the modern business. Happy customers fuel brand advocacy and retention and in a market that offers more and more choice, this can only be a good thing.
So, how do you make your customers happy?
It’s not just about improving customer service or expanding your offerings. Customer happiness is a business philosophy that should permeate every transaction, interaction and department.
Here are a couple of ideas to help you build a customer-centric philosophy that breeds happy customers.
1. Ask for their feedback, and really listen
Every customer has an opinion about your company. Positive or negative, they’re going to share it with someone eventually. The question is who that someone is: you, their coworkers, or their entire social network.
One way to get ahead of bad situations is to seek out negative feedback rather than waiting for it to snowball. Sending customer experience surveys regularly is a great way to do that. Customer surveys give unhappy customers a direct channel to voice their issues. If your company acknowledges and acts on their feedback in a timely manner, then that sets a precedent. Next time something goes wrong, they may turn to you instead of venting about their experience online.
There are two primary types of survey:
Transactional surveys – These quick, contextual surveys ask customers for feedback on a recent experience. Companies often set up survey workflows to automate the process, so each time a specific action is taken, it triggers a transactional survey. For example, you might trigger a customer satisfaction survey after closing a support case, so customers can rate the quality of the support they received.
Pulse surveys – More generic and periodic, pulse surveys help companies measure overall customer sentiment rather than individual experiences. The Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) question (How likely are you to recommend our company to your friends or family?) is often included in pulse surveys, along with more relationship-based questions.
2. Make your employees happy
Wait, weren’t we just talking about customers? That’s right, but think about how many customers a single employee interacts with over the course of a day, let alone a month or year. It isn’t even close to a 1:1 ratio. A single interaction could be the lasting impression a customer has of your entire business. As Virgin Airlines CEO Richard Branson once said;
“If the person who works at your company is not appreciated, they are not going to do things with a smile.”
It’s pretty easy to understand how that translates into the language, tone, patience and other key elements your employees use as they interact with your customers. Keeping the people closest to customers happy and engaged is just good business sense.
Happy employees will emit excitement, pride, and satisfaction that carry through to customers. Work on building positive, meaningful relationships with your employees. Make sure to tie their work to the organisation's success. This can be as simple as sending periodic employee engagement surveys, providing appropriate pay and benefits, creating an internal culture club, and acknowledging individual achievements regularly.
Happy employees lead to happy customers. Prioritise the employee experience, and your customer experience will benefit too.
3. Build your capacity and capability
If customer happiness is going to be achieved, it is critical that an organisation possesses the skills and competencies to make it a reality. The experience a customer has with an organisation is what will determine their state of happiness. Customer Experience Management is something that cannot happen by ‘accident’. It requires skilled professionals working with and embedding a framework, to ensure an organisation can work towards the delivery of the desired customer experience, the experience it wants its customers to have.
It is also critical to understand, that to create customer happiness, it is equally as important to create employee happiness. The emotional component of the experience, the way an organisation makes its customers feel, is most likely to be influenced by the employees the customer interacts with. In fact, the customer culture of an organisation is defined by its people, which is why the way your customer feels are most likely to determined by the actions of your employees.
To achieve customer happiness consistently it is important that you have the following strategies in place;
A clear understanding of who your customers are; and their needs and wants
An understanding of what you want their experience to be and how you want them to feel
An understanding from all employees of the role they play in delivering the customer experience
A focus on treating your employees in the same way you expect them to treat your customers
A structured framework to continuously manage the customer journey – increasing its ability to meet the needs and wants of customers
Businesses need to be laser-focused on customer relationships to breed happy customers. Be sensitive to their time and needs. Understand who they are and what they’re trying to accomplish. Speak to them on their level.
Any organisation's success is tied closely to its customers’ success, so help them get there by reducing friction wherever possible. Give customers the opportunity to share feedback at every touch point. They may speak up rather than pack up the next time they have a bad experience.