10 Ways to Make Customer Happiness Part of Your Business Model

Any longtime customer service champion knows their job isn’t just about resolving problems; it’s about making customers happy.

We’ve all heard the one-off stories of legendary customer service: the time a Morton’s employee brought a steak to a customer at the airport, or when Sainsbury’s renamed a product at a young customer’s suggestion. But how do you make these unforgettable moments the norm rather than the exception?

Inspiring your customers to fall in love with your company requires more than grand gestures. It takes an ongoing investment of consistently great service. This can feel daunting, especially if you’re a small business with limited staff, but by incorporating a few core principles into your business model, customer happiness can be integrated into everything you do.

10 ways to make customers fall in love with your business

Here are some creative ideas from the most customer-centric companies on the planet — adapt them to your own customers for happy results!

1. Be human

Customers want to interact with human beings who are warm, friendly and helpful. In every aspect of your company — from email marketing to your help desk — approach people like you would approach neighbors (warmly but respectfully). By creating a human experience, you can spark meaningful relationships with current and future customers.

2. Always listen

Listening is an underrated skill. After all, don’t you hate being interrupted? There are a lot of ways to listen to customers, but the most important thing is to make sure they know you hear them.

During all interactions, mirror back the experiences of customers with understanding. Combined with social listening tools and feedback analysis, this empathetic approach can set off fireworks between you and your community.

3. Be transparent about changes, setbacks and breakthroughs

Every organization is going to hit blips and bumps that disrupt business. Whether it’s a snow day or a data leak, you’re more likely to recover if you get out in front of the problem. Always practice transparency. Share the problem and your concerns, along with any steps you’re taking to resolve the issue.

Don’t forget: Your community wants to hear about awesome breakthroughs, too. Exercise good judgment, and lean into these opportunities to build exciting relationships with a growing community.

4. Treat every customer like a VIP

Being a VIP has some real perks. More than any specific benefit, VIP status offers the warm-and-fuzzy that someone values and appreciates you. The good news is that you can give that to every customer, regardless of their budget or needs.

“Getting service right is more than just a nice to do; it’s a must do. American consumers are willing to spend more with companies that provide outstanding service — ultimately, great service can drive sales and customer loyalty.”

Jim Bush, EVP American Express

Start by offering every customer your undivided attention, and personalize content so they’re always hearing a voice made just for them. You’ll create VIPs who will not only buy more, they’ll give you referral after referral.

5. Value consistency above all else

In the service industry, you’re only as good as the last meal you serve — and that’s true of any customer service business. It actually takes 12 positive experiences to offset one not-so-great interaction.

To hit the mark every time, companies need to empower employees with cohesive values, standards and guidelines for interacting with customers. The trick is to provide consistency in the level of service while still enabling team members to play to their strengths.

6. Love your employees

The quickest way to make customers fall head-over-heels for your company is to appreciate your employees. (Yes, you read that right!) Rodd Wagner shares this perfect formula in Forbes:

Happy employees = longer tenure = consistent training = employee expertise = happy customers

Employee happiness has a big impact on the long-term performance of a company. After all, no loyal customer wants to learn that their favorite employee had to leave for higher pay.

7. Trust your customers and clients

I learned working in retail that trust is always reciprocal. When customers didn’t meet the credit card minimum at the shop, the owner would let them take their purchase and come back with cash later. People were so struck with gratitude that they came back with the money — and then some! If you give your customers the benefit of the doubt, they’ll extend the same courtesy to you.

8. Apologize — and make it right

Saying sorry is always essential, but sorry isn’t always enough. Companies need to put that sentiment into action to make customers fall in love. First, fix the actual issue. Next, make up for the fact that there was a problem at all.

Empower happy customer service teams with the flexibility (and resources) to “wow” customers. With the right resources, they can make up for the problem with a meaningful gesture that more than matches the enormity of the mistake or hassle.

9. Offer regular rewards

“If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering."

— Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon

Companies like Southwest Airlines, Patagonia and Nordstrom have distilled customer loyalty to an art form, creating real value with their offerings. They know that one-time incentives are fun, but you need to sustain that momentum over time to have a real impact. Invest in regular rewards, incentives or sales that people look forward to — and add in one or two extra for a fun surprise.

10. Say ‘thank you’ again, and again, and again

Gratitude is a powerful emotion. Expressing it to customers builds positive feelings while humanizing your company in the eyes of the world.

So don’t sell yourself short — say thank you in every email and every interaction. Expressing gratitude this way also makes it more likely that someone (even a customer) will help you in the future. You’ll fall in love, too

These ten ways to make customers fall in love with your business are also fun for you. When you embrace happy customer service, you create the ideal environment for you and your team. What’s not to love?

Elizabeth Wellington
Elizabeth Wellington

Liz writes about business, creativity and making meaningful work. Say hello on Twitter or through her website.

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