Customer happiness

Customer happiness is one of the most interesting areas I give a lot of attention to, and it goes hand in hand with the area of Managing Company Culture.

I used to lead the customer care efforts at my first startup and I learned a lot from that, and one of the best lessons I learned is that turning a super angry customer into a super happy customer isn’t that complex, it depends a lot on your attitude while dealing with that customer’s complaint. You should make it clear that all you care about is that customer’s happiness before anything else.

if there is a misunderstanding, don’t tell the customer that it’s his fault, it’s the company’s fault as it didn’t put enough effort in making this clear.

If there’s a mistake, apologize, and over apologize. Compensate, and offer to over compensate.

If the last interaction between your company and a customer ends with a real smile on that customer’s face, sure this customer will come back again.

I’m never a fan of too professional communication with customers. Act professional, but sound like a friend giving a hand. (I never use “Dear X” in my emails, friends never do that)

If the customer is complaining about something, feel his/her pain, show true and positive sympathy. Once your voice starts to show that you’re feeling that customer’s pain, you will find that s/he will start to calm down and sympathize with you.

Sure combining all that with the right actions to solve that customer’s problem, will guarantee you that this customer will come back again with more of his friends.

All the tips I said above may sound easy and common sense, but they are not easy to implement in real life. Maybe it was easy for me as I was a founder in my own company, I’m the one who is supposed to care about all the little details, and won’t get tired improving anything that needs to be improved.

Still the challenge would have been bigger if my company had grown enough to start hiring a full-time team of customer care/happiness agents. Would they have treated customers the same way I do? It’s not their company, they are not moved by the same motivations I’ve. How would I’ve dealt with that?!

I don’t think that everyone has the skills and personality that can qualify him/her to be a good customer care agent.

Actually I don’t like to call them “customer care agents”, it doesn’t sound right. I prefer to call them “Customer Happiness Heroes” like they do at Buffer . It sounds more relevant to what that team is supposed to do, and it makes it clear to them that their first goal is to make customers; not just satisfied, but truly happy.

I was happy to find that the founders of the company I just joined (Edfa3ly.com) are giving increasing attention to the customer happiness area in their business. Their recommended book about the topic was Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, The CEO of Zappos. I’m currently reading the book and it’s quite interesting.

Also it happened that I met recently with a senior manager at bigger scale company in Europe (Booking.com), and he told me that they have 3,500 customer care agents out of their 7,000 employees. And told me about how their agents are free to take actions that can make customers happy even if it makes the company lose money. Inside my head I was thinking “Wow, those guys really get it”.

Today, I was having a quite weekend at home. I tried to follow James Altucher‘s advice of writing 10 new ideas everyday, and one of them was about Customer Happiness.

The idea was “Start a company that acts as the customer happiness layer for all companies, using the same Happiness Heroes”.

The explanation: It takes tons of effort to make a great customer care/happiness team/department. From selecting the right people, training them, to making sure they are themselves happy.

This company will provide other companies with the best Happiness Agents to help them avoid the hassle of managing their own agents.

Yeah, nothing new about that as many companies already do that. The new thing would be that each customer will get assigned to about 5 happiness heroes that will take care of everything related to him/her.

While that “middle layer company” is serving many other companies, whenever a customer calls, one of the 5 agents will respond to his/her calls, whatever is the company that customer was trying to reach, s/he will get a response from one of his/her assigned happiness heroes.

What’s the point of making the customer always talk to same happiness agents across companies? I think this will help customers build good relation with their assigned agents. Generally, people start to behave better when they talk to people they already know.

Also, from a customer’s point of view, the agents will be like his own “personal assistants” who solve all his problems whatever is the company he is trying to contact.

I think a service like that would appeal to small/medium companies that want to just deliver the best experience to their customers in a new way while saving themselves the hassle of doing the customer happiness work by themselves.

I don’t know if this is something the worlds needs or not, doable or not, or maybe it already exists, I just wrote that idea down without giving a lot of thinking or research about it, but hopefully maybe someone somewhere will read that and tell me something interesting about how to deliver happiness.

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