Today, customer acquisition and loyalty are driven by community. Brands are as powerful as their happiest (and unhappiest) customers, making community-building critical to cultivating customer happiness.
Why customer happiness matters:
Happy customers are in a happy relationship with your brand - they enjoy your brand and have positive associations with it. This means that happy customers will not abandon you when mistakes or missteps happen. They will choose to give you another chance because of the positive trust you have built with them. Happy customers will want to grow with you - and these are the exact customers you want to keep.
Here are 5 ways to cultivate customer happiness through community:
1. Humans, not bots
It may seem simple but the fastest way to cultivate customer happiness is to give them a human to speak to, especially if something has gone wrong. 40% of customers in the US say they prefer a human account representative and would be more loyal to brands that provided this over those that don't.
2. Improved "councils" model
Brands got into a habit of "rewarding" customers by asking them to be part of "feedback councils." The problem? Brands received free user research while the "council" members did not receive much in return. Improved council models offer gifts, incentives, and experiences to customers taking time out to give frequent feedback.
3. Redefine "loyalty" programs
Rewarding the most active members of customer communities has always been important - but asking power users to spend money to earn money isn't customer appreciation, it's sales. Customers want to feel surprised and delighted when a brand sends a surprise appreciation gift. Instead, surprise customers with gifts on milestone occasions - without a purchase.
4. Keep employees happy
Happy employees make happy customers. Employees that are excited about their jobs and the brands they represent will go the extra mile for customers. Happy employees also talk about your brand wherever they go. Happiness is contagious and the most effective way to keep customers happy is to keep employees happy.
5. Design a great experience
From their first introduction to your brand through point of purchase and beyond, each step of your customer journey must be designed to engage and serve customer needs. The experience should feel personal, human, and inviting at every step.