Customer Experience
What Is Customer Happiness? 10 Practical Ways to Keep Customers Happy

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Table of contents

What Is Customer Happiness? 10 Practical Ways to Keep Customers Happy

May 23, 2024
10 min read

Table of contents

There’s a popular cafe I often visit even though I don’t love the taste of their drinks. This coffee chain (let’s call it, Green Siren 👀) is known for greeting customers by name, preparing orders fast, and offering a generous and easy-to-use rewards program. The warmth, service, and product remain consistent even when their baristas change. And, on the rare occasions the staff mess up, they apologize and correct the mistake swiftly. 

All these factors make customers like me happy — enough to return, again and again.

Table of Contents

What is Customer Happiness

Customer happiness is a term used to describe the level of satisfaction and contentment that a customer feels with a product or service. It can also refer to the overall experience that a customer has with a business, including factors such as customer service and the ability to easily resolve issues or problems. Companies often strive to improve customer happiness as it can lead to increased customer loyalty and repeat business.

What influences Customer Happiness

In his groundbreaking book The Effortless Experience, Matthew Dixon wrote, “Customer service is the crucible of the customer experience — the place where all of the company’s claims, its mission and its values, are tested.” When service interactions fail this test, the customer will likely leave you for your competitor.

Even if you haven’t read Dixon’s book, you’re likely familiar with its premise — that customer service interactions typically cause unhappiness and disloyalty. That’s because these interactions often make the customer exert a lot of effort to get their problems solved. For example, customers are made to call the company several times and repeat information to different reps. Dixon and his team found that those negative experiences create unhappy customers, who are likelier than happy customers to tell others about their experience.

The team’s research also revealed that exceeding customer expectations, going the extra mile, and performing extraordinary, PR-worthy acts of service didn’t affect customer loyalty and satisfaction. Instead, what drove loyalty was meeting customers’ expectations consistently and making it as effortless as possible for them to get help for their problems and queries. This means customer support interactions greatly influence how customers feel towards your business and whether or not they’ll stick with you.

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Dixon’s insights were based on data from a survey of 97,000 customers. And they still hold true today, 10 years after the book was published, said Dixon in a webinar held in April 2022. 

How to measure Customer Happiness

Use metrics to determine the level of a customer’s happiness with your business and, in turn, predict loyal customers and churn. Trends in happiness metrics can also reveal which channels and types of interactions tend to drive positive or negative sentiments.

Below are three of the most commonly used metrics for measuring customer happiness:

  • Customer Effort Score (CES) — Dixon and his team developed this now-ubiquitous metric as a result of their research. You get CES by asking customers to rate on a numerical scale how easy you made it for them to resolve their issues.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) — NPS tells you which customers are your brand’s detractors, passives, and promoters. You get NPS by asking customers to rate their likelihood of recommending your business to someone else. 
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) — In our research for Hiver’s Customer Service Benchmark Report, 41% of teams identified CSAT as their most important KPI. You get CSAT by asking customers to rate their satisfaction with a customer service interaction. 

For each metric, look for trends by getting the average score for a particular service channel, customer support rep, type of request, or period.

Customer Satisfaction

10 practical ways to drive Customer Happiness

Here are 10 effective strategies for driving customer happiness and reducing customer effort in support interactions.

1. Reply to customer emails faster

In a study of >1,000 U.S. consumers in 2022, 70% of respondents said they expected to receive a reply to a customer service email within the same day.

The good news is that businesses have started realizing this need to respond faster to consumers. In Hiver’s Customer Service Benchmark report, we found that around 34% of great customer service teams have email response times of less than an hour.

Here are some processes you can adopt to reply to customer emails faster:

  • Identify commonly asked questions and create response templates for them
  • Set reminders and tardiness notifications for tackling service requests based on SLAs
  • Assign requests to support agents who have the most knowledge of or experience with the given problem
  • Use a multi-channel customer service platform so that you can manage multiple touchpoints – email, live chat, and phone, amongst others – under one single roof.

Clutter, a provider of moving and storage services, improved email response times by 25% by making sure queries were always assigned to the correct rep. Adopting an intuitive shared inbox solution gave the team visibility into emails and their status. They use email tags to classify emails by topic or the nature of the request. They prepare email templates for frequently asked questions.

2. Help customers avoid future problems

Teach customers something new about using your product so you can help them avoid the next problem. That’s the most effective thing customer service teams can do to increase customer loyalty, according to research by Dixon and his team.

Say you’re in the hotel business and a loyalty program member calls you to apply their membership discount to a room reservation. You book the room for them at the discounted rate. You’ve solved their immediate concern, but other issues can arise. How do they apply their membership discount at the hotel bar? What do they do next time they need to book a room? 

You make customers happy by sharing the answers in advance — for example, tell them to charge their restaurant bill to their room to apply the discount automatically, and encourage them to download the members-only app for future reservations.

To foster a next-issue avoidance mindset, Dixon suggests thinking of problems as a series of events. Ask product or technical servicing teams to demonstrate troubleshooting scenarios and what can go wrong next. Go through your query history and identify instances when a customer called back within 7 to 14 days. If those callbacks were driven by new issues after the first one had seemingly been solved, record the details and discuss them with your customer service and product teams. Reenact these situations during customer support training and let support reps practice preempting problems and providing answers before the need arises.

3. Offer a self-service knowledge base

Customers want the fastest route to solving their problems. A self-service knowledge base can provide that route, as it saves people from picking up the phone or waiting for an email reply. 

A knowledge base gives customers detailed information on your product or service and provides troubleshooting tips for common problems. Companies call it by different names, such as FAQ, glossary, help guide, and product documentation.  

Make it easy for customers to find your knowledge base by featuring the link prominently on your website’s homepage. Help them find answers faster by including a search bar with smart suggestions and breaking down topics into scannable subsections. Where necessary, use videos and graphics to supplement explanations and instructions.

Audit your knowledge base regularly to ensure it’s up-to-date, and edit it based on customer feedback. For instance, a customer might call customer service and explain that they tried to find the answer on your knowledge base but couldn’t find it or found the answer unclear. 

As your knowledge base grows over time, observe changes in the page loading speed and consider whether some subsections have expanded so much that they need to be turned into separate sections instead. Visit the page regularly – from different computers and mobile devices – to ensure the reading and navigation experience remains user-friendly across various screens. 

4. Introduce live chat that empowers even small support teams

Live chat reduces customer effort because they don’t have to call you or find an email address to write to. Display a floating chat box on your website that customers can click on to start a conversation immediately. You can also allow customers to chat with you through social media.

If your team is small, you might view live chat as an extra channel that will increase your already tight workload. But you can design your live chat service to empower your team.

One way to do this is to add features that reduce hassle for customers and support reps.

For example, if a customer wants to track an order on an eCommerce app, they’d get an automatic prompt to provide the order ID of the relevant package. This ID is usually a long string of numerals. Now, you want to avoid making the customer go through their purchase history, and copy-paste the order ID in the chat box.

Instead, add a widget to your chat box that displays their recent purchases, so they only need to click on the relevant order to share the ID number.

Example from Shopee, an eCommerce app

Another way to help your customer support reps respond fast to live chats is to integrate your live chat channel within your helpdesk. Hiver’s live chat feature, for instance, integrates with Gmail. You don’t need to switch between apps to handle customer queries. You can assign chat messages to relevant support staff, and also make use of pre-built templates for sending quick responses – all from within Gmail. 

5. Enable data-sharing and collaboration between support reps

One of the most annoying customer service experiences is being asked to repeat yourself. This typically happens when a rep transfers the customer to another agent during a conversation. 

In fact, having to repeat information is the third-biggest driver of disloyalty during customer service interactions, according to research done by Dixon and his colleagues. 

A related annoyance is giving information (beyond identity verification processes) that the company should already know. For example, when a customer calls a telco and provides their name and registered mobile number, the service rep might ask them what plan they’re on. The customer expects the agent to have that information on hand.

And yet, these negative experiences are all too common. In a survey of over 1,000 contact center agents in the U.S. and U.K., 38% said they don’t have the right customer data when they deal with service requests. The good news is that this can be easily prevented.

Use a collaborative notes system that lets you tag and discuss queries with teammates. Support staff can loop in their colleagues to ask for context, and help in resolving queries. When all context and information about a customer query can be found in one place, it makes it easier to collaborate and provide a faster resolution.

Most customer support systems integrate with CRMs or customer data platforms, and with sufficient training, customer support reps can maximize the data-sharing features of these tools. These platforms give you a detailed history of the customer’s previous support interactions, satisfied customers, and other relevant info such as purchase history or psychographic profile.

6. Automate mundane tasks

Automation saves customer service teams’ time and makes issue resolution faster. Our research shows that every automation you implement saves two minutes of your team’s time. Kiwi, an online travel agency, automates 5,000 actions a month, saving their team 167 hours monthly.

Here are some tasks you can automate with if-then rules:

Notice how each automation reduces a point of friction and potential delay in the customer support interaction. Automated assignments remove the need for your support team to manually figure out who should reply to each query. They also enable the customer to speak directly to the person who can solve their problem, and avoid making the customer talk to one support staff only to be transferred to a specialist later.

7. Dissect and diagnose customer support calls to learn from mistakes

Dissect conversations that indicate an unhappy experience for the customer. Listen to calls or read through messages and discuss them with the reps involved to identify the root cause of what went wrong.

In your analysis, look for processes and word choices that might irritate customers. Identify processes you need to redesign or automate. Train your team to consciously use language that improves customers’ interpretation and perception of the interaction. For example, instead of saying, “Your warranty period ends next month,” say, “Your warranty period will be active until next month.”

Get customers’ perspectives by interviewing a random selection of those who gave low ratings. 

ItGenius, an IT services consultancy, listened to customers’ feedback after the company implemented a ticketing system. “We had a lot of feedback from people about being treated ‘like a number.’ You know that auto-response ‘Here’s your ticket, now sit back and we’ll get to your email?’ Turns out people don’t like that,” shared Scott Gellatly, the General Manager at itGenius.

This feedback was important because Scott and his team had implemented the system to be more efficient — something they thought would make customers happy. But efficiency can sometimes come at the cost of personal warmth. As a B2B business, itGenius had to take a more personalized approach to customer interactions, so they stopped using a conventional ticketing system and switched to Hiver instead.

8. Use data analytics to maintain and improve service standards

Data analytics gives insights into your team’s performance and how that affects customer (un)happiness. Analytics also helps you uncover areas for improvement.

You may find, for instance, a correlation between first contact resolution rate and customer happiness. Or you’ll find that specific queries tend to take much longer to get resolved. You may also discover that a particular rep typically has a longer resolution time but also has a lower repeat call rate and higher NPS — indicating that they may have taken more time during conversations to help the customer avoid the next issue. 

The key here is to look at the numbers, then investigate the factors that drive them by further analyzing the data, reviewing support conversations, and talking to your reps.

You can go back and reference emails and look up data on why an issue took so long to get resolved. It provides leadership a birds-eye view on where we need to improve in terms of processes because we have access to those emails, and comments from clients,” says Johanny Rodriguez, associate director of account managers at Bergen Logistics

She adds that tracking opened and unresolved queries improves accountability among her team. Showing reps how their performance leads to results also gives them greater ownership of and pride in their work.

This increased sense of accountability drives customer happiness. Kiwi, an online travel agency, achieved a 100% SLA success rate by tracking each member’s workload, response time, and average resolution time. 

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9. Improve support teams’ workload management

Figuring out how customer support workload is distributed is complicated for small teams that don’t have call center software and primarily use email. 

Some teams use email forwarding or Slack to delegate customer queries. Others literally call out to teammates in the same office to let them know they’re handling a request. These processes are cumbersome and unreliable.

Hiver’s workload distribution feature helps you avoid those problems by showing you each rep’s open conversations and letting you assign emails with a few clicks. Hiver also lets you implement a round-robin query assignment system to evenly distribute the workload.

With efficient workload management, you avoid leaving customer queries unresolved. You also avoid confusing customers (and, frankly, wasting their time) by having two customer support reps reply to the same query. 

10. Deploy a helpdesk to handle support requests more efficiently

A help desk software lets you run all your customer support operations from a single platform. It helps you prioritize, queue, and track support queries. Some help desks act as a control center from which you can manage multiple customer service channels, such as live chat, email, phone, and SMS.

Look for a helpdesk that:

  • Integrates easily with your existing customer support platforms
  • Has data analytics and reporting capabilities
  • Provides tools for team collaboration
  • Improves workload management
  • Lets you collect feedback by running customer satisfaction surveys

All these benefits drive customer happiness. For instance, analytics helps drive more accountability and lets you track customer happiness metrics. Collaboration improves how you resolve issues. Efficient workload management reduces the possibility of emails being left unresolved within SLAs. And surveys tell you how a customer feels during service interactions and whether or not you’ve met their expectations.

Excellent customer service leads to more happy customers

Service that minimizes customer effort and prevents future problems results in keeping customers satisfied. This means customer support teams have the power to drive customer success and brand loyalty. 

A Helpdesk like Hiver is ideal for small teams that use Gmail to provide customer support. Hiver lets you manage your team’s workload and collaborate within the Gmail interface. It provides analytics, automation features, a knowledge base creation tool, and software integrations. Learn more by signing up for a free trial.

SaaS enthusiast who also happens to rap, play football, binge watch Nordic TV shows, and indulge in conversations about burgers and existentialism.

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