What Makes Customers Happy?

All_SmilesIn my early days at Fathom, we once printed up T-shirts for everybody in the company that said Customer retention = $. This garment giveaway was for a broader organization-wide initiative on service quality and yes, customer retention. Since happy customers tend to stick around, I thought it would be worth exploring the different principles that lead to their contentment, if not joy. The following items are by no means comprehensive, but should at least give you a starting point for evaluating the satisfaction of your own business audience.

Appreciation & signs of gratitude
Thank your customers for their business early and often. Thank them when they join, during a transaction/service and afterwards. Remind them regularly of how much you appreciate them … whether on the phone, in person (whenever possible), through emails or in the form of prizes/bonuses/special offers.

Meeting expectations
Another thing that makes customers happy is getting what they expect (or more). Going beyond expectations may delight them, but you can’t go wrong by at least meeting their expectations in the first place. Much of the issues around broken expectations come down to a refusal to empathize with or listen actively to customer concerns when problems inevitably arise. Disenchantment can also relate to truth-in-advertising: Is your company accurately representing itself in ads, emails or the website itself? Does it truly deliver what it promises? Is the organization unwittingly or explicitly creating expectations that it cannot (or will not) fulfill? Cutting out any disconnect is the first step toward correcting expectations.

Being human
Feeling like individuals communicating with other people, not robots, makes people happy to associate with your business. Examples of anti-human phenomena: Soulless content, user-hostile web design, telephone auto-prompters, ‘do-not-reply’ email addresses, unwelcome sales pitches, interruption marketing, lack of compassion.

Giving them value (both short- and long-term)
Giving them what they want right now in addition to setting them up for success down the road in the form of after-sales service, new products, or longevity and continuity.

Emotional connections
Customers that feel valued reward organizations with their loyalty. Sensitivity to their emotions (especially after a service failure) can make the difference between a sustained relationship and a severed one. Appealing positively to the ‘lizard’ brain by producing good feelings can do more than any rational thought or selling points like price, location, convenience, and certifications/awards.

Asking them
The very fact that you care enough to take the time to ask such a question can make them happy … and posing the question will give you valuable information to ensure future happiness. Make sure that the people in your organization who face customers daily are presenting the right questions on a regular basis and then sharing that information across the organization.

Check out Fathom’s content brand voice questionnaire (Microsoft Word) to keep customers happy with unified communications.

Get Questionnaire
Photo courtesy of Martin Cathrae via Flickr.

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