What we can learn about customer happiness from old-school businesses

What’s your number one priority in running your business?

Whatever comes to mind, I’m sure it somehow comes back to customer service. Think about it – improving your product, updating your website, creating content, designing graphics, … In the end it’s all there to make customers happy and therefore grow your business.

It’s easy to think you can’t win over all your customers, that some people will always be dissatisfied. It’s easier after all – if you’ve already resigned to the idea of never having 100% satisfied customers, you don’t need to put in as much effort and you can more easily justify any shortcomings.
If you’re in customer support you should be all about making customers 100% happy though – your goal should be to eliminate all support because of your absolutely awesome product.

Instead of putting your business first and your customers second, why not flip it around?

You might think of some cheesy, annoying companies where customer support people ingeniously promote that the customer always comes first. “The customer is king”, remember that saying?

As corny as it is, it’s also effective. Just think of the fact that it’s something we’ve all come across at least once in our lifetime before. We all know a business that promotes customer happiness in a cheesy way. Worth noting though that incongruent action and words don’t go a long way.

It all comes back to aligning your words with your actions and your tone of voice.

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I’ve got a few tips you can use to align your words and actions, so your customers actually believe what you’re trying to communicate:

  • Be fun, down to earth and sincere in your interactions. Just like small actions such as finding a random one dollar coin on the street can make someone’s day, a great support experience can put a smile on your customer’s face.
    Approach any interaction with a helpful attitude, and use your own language. If you’re communicating via email or chat, don’t write like you think you should sound, but like you actually sound when you talk to someone. Read out aloud what you just typed. Does it sound like you? Does it sound like a person?

  • Follow up. It’s such a big deal, and one that’s often overlooked. Following up doesn’t only matter after a networking event, but also when it comes to staying in touch with your customers.
    Did they have a question about a new feature you’re releasing soon? Or an issue with your technology that’s now been fixed? Let them know. Keep them updated. They will appreciate your effort to reach out again, no matter how small the issue. 

  • Be thorough and get back to customers reasonably quickly. If a customer contacts you, it’s likely they’ve either got an issue right now or something they believe is important to share. The smaller your business, the more important this is. If customers perceive you as a SME they most likely expect personalised support and availability from your side.

The most simple and straightforward piece of advice you can take from this post is to remember that the customer is always number one. This can translate in many ways, but some of the most important ones are to be human, act genuinely and in line with your values.

What’s your experience with putting customers first? What stories come to mind that you can share with us?