Most people have higher expectations for customer service now than they did just a year ago. In fact, 66% of consumers between 18 and 34 (and 54% overall) do. That’s a lot of people that are expecting an excellent experience—and a lot of companies that are trying to provide it. The importance of customer loyalty is at an all-time high, especially with the bounty of competitors that most modern businesses have.

Your customers are ruthless in their expectations. 82% of consumers report that they’ve left a company entirely due solely to a single bad customer experience. After all, with so many available alternatives, what’s to keep them? To keep them with you, you’ll need to go above and beyond and get creative with your customer happiness solutions. Luckily, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves to recommend.

Help them help themselves

This might hurt to hear, but your customers, for the most part, don’t actually want to talk to you. In their eyes, the more frictionless the experience, the better. 73% of customers prefer to use a company’s website, instead of using social media, SMS and live chat for support. That means that one of the best things that you can do to keep them happy is to keep them from ever having to directly talk with a person on your team at all.  There are a few ways that you can do this:

  • Invest in an excellent AI system to answer their inquiries quickly and efficiently on your site.
  • Create amazing self-service documentation and video libraries.
  • Use user onboarding to your benefit: guide your users in product best-practices from the start.
  • Create proactive email campaigns to trigger when customers typically need help. For example, at the end of your trial period.

All of these serve as a buffer for your customer. Ultimately, not talking to them is one of the best things that you can do to keep them happy

Send them gifts and treats

People love gifts. Well, they love good gifts that show that you pay attention to what they like and care about. In a recent survey, 57% of respondents said that “gifts can impact their opinion of a business partner both positively and negatively.” Basically, if you send them an ugly sweater (unless that’s a key factor of your product), you might lose favor, but if you send them a delightful, useful gift otherwise, it’s likely to earn you loyalty.

There are many opportunities to send gifts to customers, but it’s important to figure out a way to do so scalably. Imagine hearing from a friend about the amazing gifts a company sent them, choosing to sign yourself up, and discovering that the amazing customer service experience had changed. That sends the message that perhaps customers are not as important or valuable as they used to be—never a good feeling. Some of the best times to think about sending gifts or treats to your customers are:

  • If they sign a large contract
  • On their birthday or other special event related to your product. For example, if you sell wedding rings, sending them a gift on their wedding or anniversary days
  • If you see big news about their company
  • On their anniversary of using your product
  • Just because!

Send a gift that’s relevant to your product,  or useful to your target demographic customer—no ugly sweaters allowed!

Treat everyone the same

Have you ever been told “Sorry, we don’t offer that service to customers below a specific pay tier”? It stings. It makes you feel like you’re less valuable than someone that’s paying more than you—even if that “more” is just a little bit. There are two solutions to this: either don’t publicize that you offer those services at all, or offer all of your support offerings to everyone. “There's only one boss, the customer,” Sam Walton once said. “He can fire everybody from the chairman on down simply by spending his money elsewhere.” Even your users that are not yet customers have the power of voting with their dollars.

This is hard to scale. If you have thousands of customers, it can be difficult to offer the same level of support to everyone. But it’s not just about support. Provide the same resources, same level of UX and the same level of care to every person that shows interest in your product. Whether they are a fairly unengaged trial user or a top-level enterprise client, showing everyone the same level of care and experience is, frankly, unexpected nowadays, and it’s a great way to earn brownie points.

Tell them no

A good customer experience shouldn’t be built around getting to yes for a customer. Instead, your team should focus on empowering the customer to achieve their goals—even if that means telling them that your product isn’t the right fit. As Bob Burg and John Mann write in The Go-Giver: “all things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.” People aren’t going to trust you if you aren’t honest with them.

This doesn’t mean that you should say no all the time, but if someone asks for a feature or how to do something that you know genuinely isn’t very easy or accessible within your product, it’s better to be honest than give them a slew of workarounds. That’s like when Cinderella’s stepsister tried to jam her foot into the glass slipper: everyone realized that it wasn’t a great fit and, in the end, the people that she’d tried to fool were frustrated and upset (and she was left missing a heel). Don’t try to fool your customers. It’s okay that your product doesn’t do everything. It won’t fit everyone’s needs, and that’s okay. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, try to find and provide resources to help everyone get done what they need most. That is excellent customer service.

Make your employees happy

Have you ever gone into a coffee shop to order and noticed that the person making your drinks seemed miserable? When you interact with people that are unhappy, it makes you unhappy in turn. The same goes for your customers. If your employees are unengaged and don’t feel supported by your organization, they will be less helpful to your customers when they reach out. People that care about the mission of your brand are so much more likely to go above and beyond for people in the moment. In fact, there are numbers that support this: companies that excel in customer experience have one-and-a-half times as many engaged employees as customer experience “laggards.”

This may be a chicken-or-the-egg situation. Are people happy to work for your company because your customers like your product, or do customers like your product because your employees are a joy to work with. Ultimately, does it matter? Providing an excellent experience for your employees allows them to be their best selves when they come to work, and advocate most engagedly for your customers.

Conclusion

While all of these strategies are off-the-beaten path, none of them are rocket science. Your customers want what everyone wants: to feel listened to, cared about, and valued. If you are able to do all of those things, whether it be by providing them with real solutions to their issues,  giving them gifts, or even hopping on a phone call with them, you’re on the right track to being a pillar of customer happiness.

Guest Post - Bio: Yaakov Karda is the co-founder of Chatra.io and a slow coffee enthusiast. When not brewing or working on the startup, he helps his wife with their art projects or explores Tel-Aviv on a bicycle.



By Gary Tuohy

I am who I'm meant to be, this is me.