If You Have Happy Customers … You Could Be Heading For Trouble
The concept of a happy customer seems both virtuous and victorious; after all, this is surely the ultimate service goal of most organizations…and also the best way to stave off attacks from competitors. Not everything is what it seems though, especially when you define what is meant by a happy customer…
“A customer that is consistently able to buy the products they want, at fair prices and with the comfort of good, friendly service”
The problem with ‘happy customers’, using the description offered, is that ‘getting what they want’ in product, price and service is surely no more than an entitlement…and if this is true then what happens if they can ‘get what they want’ at lower prices or in a much more convenient way? The answer is that most happy customers will buy from the supplier who offers a lower price or higher convenience, or both, as long as the service is courteous, pleasant and efficient. So, if you have happy customers, get ready to lose them temporarily or permanently…depending on the extent to which your competitors are prepared and able to offer ‘better buying conditions’.
There is in fact a higher goal than creating happy customers, and that is to create very happy customers. Customers that are very happy achieve results beyond the ‘buying experience’, remembering that buying is just ‘a means to an end.’ So, if buying is the ‘means’, what is the ‘end’ that customers deserve? The answer is ‘the best possible result, in their life or in their business.’ Here are two simple examples of what it takes to create very happy customers:
- A pharmacy customer selected a hair colour product and took it to the counter. The assistant asked if she knew that there was now a shampoo and conditioner range designed just for coloured hair, removing far less colour from the hair than conventional products. The customer purchased the products and left the store very happy.
- A print rep was vying for a big order involving many thousands of annual reports, due to be sent to shareholders. Of the four reps that quoted for the job he was the only one to suggest that if a paper of a slightly lower weight were used, this would save about $60,000 on postage costs…without affecting the look and feel of the report. He got the order and the customer was very happy with his special, higher form of service
Customers that are ‘happy’ should not be thought of as being disloyal for ‘leaving’ for better prices and convenience. Those entrusted with buying, on behalf of families and businesses, are under persistent, practical pressure to save money and time…as long as quality and service can be accessed at acceptable levels. All of this means that while customers know what they ‘want’ in products and service, they hardly ever know what they ‘need’ when it comes to getting the best possible result when buying products and services…and if they did have such knowledge there would be no need for suppliers!
The challenge then is to go beyond ‘serving’ customers, by showing more interest and asking questions to find their hidden needs…and then offering ideas to achieve the best possible result, to the point where they are very happy. Obviously, when you aim to create very happy customers, then you will achieve higher loyalty, more referrals and higher sales…because the needs of customers almost always add up to more in purchases than for what they ‘wanted’. I once asked 3 landscapers to quote on a job for me, and two of them offered a quote on exactly what I said I wanted, and the third man did the same thing…and then offered a second quote for what he could see I needed, so as to achieve a much better result. I was quite happy with what the first two men did, but I was very happy with the recommendations of the third man…even though it cost 50% more. I urge you to consider the productive path of creating very happy customers.