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, which in turn increases revenue and reduces overhead costs. Sounds pretty good, right?
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 department and initiative, but is has to come from the top to really stick.
Here are five ways to build a customer-centric philosophy that breeds happy customers.
5 Keys to Creating 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 (CX) surveys regularly is a great way to do that. CX 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 CX surveys:
- 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. Personalize your communications.
It’s noisy online. The web produces 5 exabytes of new online content daily. (That’s 5 billion gigabytes.) It’s no wonder consumers crave personalization from brands more than ever. We’re so overloaded with information as it is, tuning out generic company messages is easy. For companies to connect with their customers, they have to cut through the noise.
Personalizing your customer communications is a great way to do it. Here are a few examples of how:
- Include personal details in your marketing messaging, like the customer’s first name, last name, company, industry, or product preferences. This is simple enough through any modern email service provider, and it makes an incredible difference. According to Aberdeen, personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.
- Add personalized questions to customer surveys, like the name of the agent they spoke with, the product they’re reviewing, or the date of the interaction. You can use merge fields to personalize surveys rather than sending a different survey to every single customer. This cuts down on work for your team and simultaneously creates a better survey experience for your customers.
- Offer personalized product and content suggestions, like the “You Might Also Like…” sections you see on e-commerce sites. Personalized suggestions drive customers to self-discover other relevant content online.
It’s also important to give customers the chance to opt-in by asking them what they want to see in the future. During onboarding or after a purchase, consider sending customers a quick questionnaire to learn more about their preferences. Just make sure to integrate customer feedback with your email provider and/or CRM, so their input can guide future campaigns.
3. Deliver omni-channel support.
We all know customer service has a huge impact on customer experience. Happy customers are often born from positive customer support interactions. But beyond the fundamentals, what can customer support teams do to drive customer happiness?
As McKinsey notes, consistency is key. Since support teams often help customers over 3 or more channels, it’s important the support experience is consistent and convenient across all of them. Whether customers pick up the phone, draft an email, read a knowledge base article, or chat with a live agent, they want efficient and effective support. Omni-channel support is a modern approach to customer service that unites multiple channels seamlessly. Customers and agents can move from an email conversation to a phone call without missing a beat.
Even the savviest, most customer-centric companies may struggle to provide that level of service though. It’s impossible to plan for every customer and every situation—sometimes you’ll miss the mark. That’s why support teams should measure service quality across channels using a combination of omni-channel customer feedback and service level metrics, like time to first response, customer effort score, average resolution time, and more. Consistent measurement helps teams spot service gaps early on, before they impact the larger customer base.
4. Use the right language.
Kayako found that specific phrases and words can create more positive customer feelings. This language not only humanizes a business, but it helps buffer negative customer service interactions.
Here are some of those customer-conscious phrases:
- Sure thing, you can do this by…
- I know what we can do…
- The best thing to do would be to…
- Let’s help you find another way to…
- Happy to help!
- Let me know if I can help you with…
- We have something similar, would you like to try it?
See how this language is more conversational and friendly than a stuffy We apologize for this inconvenience? The tone is helpful, upbeat, and human. Try it the next time you’re dealing with an unhappy customer.
5. 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 support agent or sales rep might talk to thousands of customers a year. And a single interaction could be the lasting impression a customer has of your entire business.
As Virgin Airlines CEO Richard Branson told Inc., “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 organization’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. Prioritize the employee experience, and your customer experience will benefit too.
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 organization’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.
Happy customers pay in dividends. They’ll sing your praises, they’ll be loyal to your brand, and they’ll help you build an exceptional customer experience that speaks for itself.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2016. It’s been updated for accuracy and freshness.