This week is Ask a Stupid Question Day (Friday, 28th of September)… seriously, it's a thing. So, in keeping with the day I have a Stupid question of my own. Should you invest into Customer Happiness?
The short answer is yes, of course but not everyone sees the merit in going above and beyond the customer journey. This is a small mentality, bare minimum approach in the fight to secure longterm customers. For those that are yet to see the benefit in implementing proactive actions to your services in order to create true, long term customer loyalty, lets have a look at why the ROI on Customer Happiness is true business success.
The Difference between Customer Satisfaction & Customer Happiness
Customer Satisfaction is quite often confused for Customer Happiness, so before we go any further, lets breakdown the difference in these business terminologies. The most straight forward definition would be that Customer Satisfaction is an immediate response to a businesses product or service. The customer was searching for a certain item or experience and they were met with a solution that ticked the required boxes. This is all positive so far but notice that it is all transactional, this is the ground floor of customer interaction, it is the base in which Customer Happiness is built upon.
Customer Happiness is the human experience, it is the emotional aspect of the business to customer relationship. Customer Happiness is forward thinking, it is about making the customer feel valued, investing into a future of loyalty and ultimately turning that customer into a brand ambassador.
Both of these terms are important, however a lot of businesses neglect Customer Happiness, believing Customer Satisfaction is enough, that their product or service is enough to keep customers returning time and time again. This may be true in some cases but it is a careless way to secure your customer base as your competition simply need to show that they value their customers in order to win over a lot of yours. A true indicator in the health of your business can be read in the level of Customer Happiness.
Consider the cafes of Melbourne, Australia. The coffee scene there is balanced and strong across the city, all of the cafes have high quality roasted beans, their interiors are all unique but all have the same level of attention to detail, the food menus are amazing. So how do you beat out your competition when you’re all evenly matched? You provide next level customer service, constantly topping up customer waters, all smiles, no request is too inconvenient, offer samples of other beans etc.
Create an experience and atmosphere that exceeds expectations, make the customer feel valued beyond the transaction of coffee for payment. They say in the hospitality world that you have a customer for life after you have provided four great experiences, customer experience (CX) is the core value of customer happiness providing purposeful engagement with your customers wherever possible in order to solidify a relationship.
A lot of businesses make the misstep of believing that no news is good news, if their customers are not complaining then they should be satisfied. This could not be more wrong, as statistically only 1 in 26 customers who are unhappy will complain, the rest simply store their bad experience internally and let it fester. You do not want your customers to feel indifferent.
“If brands want to break away from the pack and become CX leaders, they must focus on emotion. Best-in-class brands average 17 emotionally positive experiences for every negative experience, while the lowest-performing brands provided only two emotionally positive experiences for each negative one. Emotion is critical to a brand’s bottom line." -Cliff Condon, Forrester
CX specialists, the Temkin Group, found that customer feelings also have a huge impact on customer loyalty. Compared with customers who have a poor emotional experience, those with a positive one are 6x more likely to purchase again, and 12x more likely to recommend a company. Add to this the fact that the lifetime value of an emotionally-connected customer is more than twice that of a highly satisfied customer.
So how do you create a business culture that’s truly focused on Customer Happiness? We’ve put together a few of our top tips here.
How to cultivate a happy customer culture
1. Know your customers not just the demographics of your customer base but fully understand what they want from your business and why. You may find that what has been on offer is merely satisfactory up until this point and with a greater knowledge of your customers, you may be able to build your product or service up to the standard that is desired.
2. Listen to customer feedback as you should always be seeking ways in which you can improve. Ask customers how they feel about their experience and make it easy for them to tell you how to make it even better. Be careful not to go through the motions, make sure when you provide customers a platform to be heard, you actually listen to what is being said. When you make changes, tell them what you’ve done and invite them to come and try it out for themselves.
“When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better. Your customer service organisation should be designed to effectively communicate those issues.” -Kristin Smaby, “Being Human is Good Business”.
3. Surprise and delight your customers at every opportunity through timely and genuine acts. They do not need to be big or expensive things in order to be appreciated. The thought alone that has gone into something unexpected is where the true connections are made.
4. Personalise your customer communications to speak to your customers, not at them. There’s nothing worse than receiving a piece of marketing that means nothing to you, an obvious lazy attempt at mass appeal that ultimately falls short in truly reaching anyone.
5. Keep on top of customer complaints through immediate acknowledgement and action. When something goes wrong (keyword being when), it must be dealt with straight away. Your customer may be unhappy for a moment but your swift efforts and thoughtfulness going into rectifying the situation can leave a longer lasting sense of appreciation and happiness.
Customer satisfaction is no longer enough to create loyal customers in today’s competitive marketplace. Research has proven that purchasing decisions and brand loyalty are built on creating an emotional connection between a business and its customers. Organisations that optimise for an emotional connection outperform competitors by 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth.
“The customer’s perception is your reality.” -Kate Zabriskie