According to the 2016 State of Marketing report, marketing has entered the "age of the customer."

Today's customers have more information -- and power -- at their disposal, and marketers must rise to meet their expectations for a better buying experience.

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Today, customer satisfaction is a key indicator of success, along with customer engagement. While brand awareness is a longstanding marketing objective that implies one-way, business-to-consumer broadcasts, customer engagement indicates the rising importance of more personal relationships through two-way communication.

These relationships lead to happy customers, which is different than just making your customers happier.

In this post, let's explore this difference and explain a few ways your business can produce happy customers. Then, we'll list some phrases you can use to create delightful interactions with your marketing, sales, and customer service teams. 

How to Make Happy Customers

Making your customers happier is different than creating truly happy customers. Happy customers are people who value your brand beyond the initial purchase. They trust that your company is aligned with their needs and is committed to helping them achieve their long-term goals. 

Any business can make its customers happier. You can offer a discount, provide friendly service, and apologize when things go wrong. But, this won't differentiate your business because it doesn't develop a lasting relationship with your customer base. These are only short-term actions that customers expect to happen when they interact with your business. 

Instead, happy customers are made outside the buyer's journey. It's the period before and after the purchase decision where your customers recognize the added value you create. And, that value can come in many forms. 

Let's review a few in the sections below.  

1. Create a customer loyalty program.

One of the best ways to drive value outside the buying experience is with a customer loyalty program. These initiatives foster a mutually-beneficial relationship between your business and the customer, where the customer has an incentive for engaging with your brand. This promotes a relationship where both the customer and your business grow and develop together. 

If your company currently offers a loyalty program, you should consider gamifying it. Many businesses are investing in gamification as it's proven to be an effective way of generating engagement. 

If you don't have one, take a look at our beginner's guide for creating a customer loyalty program.  

2. Provide proactive customer service. 

It's great when your business has an effective customer support team that responds to problems immediately. However, it's not so great if your support team is always busy, constantly solving the same problems over and over again. 

Customers don't mind problems when they get solved quickly. But, the inconvenience of reaching out to a support team can be a detriment to their experience. Especially when it's a small problem that should be solved quickly, but they're waiting on hold for your team to respond. 

Instead, your company should be looking for ways to remove roadblocks before your customers encounter them. Start with analyzing your service tickets, identify the most common user problems and roll out fixes for them immediately. This should significantly reduce inbound stress on your support team, clearing them up for time-sensitive and complicated cases. 

One way to provide proactive customer service is with an onboarding program. These initiatives introduce your product or service to new customers and educate them on common roadblocks and how to navigate them. This is a great way to reduce friction early in the customer's journey. 

3. Offer self-service support resources.

Even if your customer service team is excellent, the less your customers have to interact with them the better. In fact, some customers would prefer not to encounter your service team at all. 

For these customers, it's important to offer self-service support. These resources are an extension of your customer service team and provide solutions when your reps are unavailable. That way, more independent customers can troubleshoot problems on their own. They don't have to wait on hold to be connected with a rep, who may not have an immediate solution. 

Some popular self-service support tools are chatbots and knowledge bases. Chatbots field incoming live chat cases and provide automated responses to customers. Knowledge bases contain support documentation that outlines troubleshooting steps to common customer issues. Using resources like these, customers can solve their own problems and avoid your support team altogether.

4. Adopt an omni-channel communication system. 

It's important to engage customers through the same communication medium they're using. This not only creates convenience for them but also provides comfort. They can communicate through a channel they're familiar with which reduces miscommunication and creates a better service experience.

That being said, it's not always easy to provide omni-channel support. With social media, community forums, and review sites to keep track of, it can be hard to stay organized when managing customer engagement. You need specific tools that can link platforms together, allowing you to oversee everything from one place. 

This is where knowledge management software comes in handy. These tools funnel incoming customer communication so your team can access it from one centralized location. No longer do messages or emails go overlooked, as you'll be notified of new inquiries, where they came from, and how quickly you should respond to them. 

5. Synchronize your marketing, sales, and customer service teams. 

When we think of customer satisfaction, we often think about customer service. But, most customers don't interact with this department until after a purchase is made. 

That means that your marketing and sales teams need to supplement your customer service efforts during the earlier stages of the buyer's journey. To do this, your teams need to be synchronized, understanding how each one contributes to the customer's experience.  When each one has an understanding of the other's goals, it becomes much easier for these teams to work together and capitalize on opportunities to delight customers. 

The best way to align your teams is with data-sharing tools like a CRM. These tools automatically update customer data and make it readily available, so everyone at your business can see activity going on in a customer's account.

For example, if you have an ecommerce site on Shopify, you can install an integration that logs customer information into your CRM after a purchase is made. This consistent stream of data gives your sales teams more chances to cross-sell and upsell customers

Try HubSpot's Shopify integration here.

Business leaders are blurring the boundaries between business units to create a single view of the customer. High-performing marketing teams are bridging the gap between them and sales and customer support. And, marketers are adapting some of the best practices from customer success teams -- namely, their phrases.

For example, successful marketers are connecting with customers in new ways across mobile, email, social, and the web. Brand promotion on social media has long been part of marketing teams' tasks, but the channel is also frequently used to dispense customer support. Knowing how to deal with customers on social media is crucial, yet it can be intimidating to suddenly find oneself in a customer-facing position.

Here are some customer happiness phrases that marketers and customer support pros should use to solve problems and foster loyal relationships.

6 Phrases to Make Your Customers Happy

1. "Thank you for your patience."

People like to turn to social media when they are facing an urgent or desperate issue, and as a result, this channel can often be the scene of tense customer interaction. Not responding is not only poor form, but also very harmful to your brand's image, in the short and long run.

Etiquette is a key skill to have under your belt. Even if a customer or prospect is rude, resist at all costs the temptation of responding in kind.

The trick to defusing a tense situation with a customer is not to rise to their level of agitation, but rather to talk them down to your own. Always start off with an apology or an acknowledgment of their distress. Then, do your best to provide a decent answer. You could get the ball rolling with something along the lines of, thank you for your patience”, or “I realize this is inconvenient, so thank you for bearing with me.” This gets the conversation off on a better foot.

2. "Let me make sure I understand the problem correctly."

Customer service is everyone's job, and being the first person to speak to a customer with an issue is a great opportunity to preemptively assist the support team.

Making sure you understand the customer's problem by reformulating it or repeating it back to them will help you qualify the issue. Qualifying a customer's issue first can have several advantages:

  • Potentially solving an easy problem quickly, without need for escalation
  • Leaving a customer with a lasting and positive impression of your attentiveness and availability
  • Teaching the customer about product usage and avoiding further calls to your support team
  • Possibly scoping out a sales opportunity or a need for further onboarding
  • Bridging the gap between marketing, sales, and support, with improved collaboration and more visible customer insight as a result

Social media interactions are a great opportunity to gauge a customer's engagement, their adoption of your product, and their need for further assistance.

3. "Let me find out for you."

If you find yourself truly stumped -- even after clarifying the customer's issue -- don't give up, and don't panic. Instead of admitting defeat and saying, “I don't know”, include the customer in the resolution process.

Saying, “I don't know that off-hand, but let me find out for you right away,” reassures the customer in your ability to help them and your willingness to try. Most will even be willing to wait if you explain that you need a minute to consult a colleague, since they'll prefer you solve their problem on the first try.

Customers expect seamless service, no matter with whom they interact, and how. But not knowing off-hand the answer to a question happens sometimes, and the trick is to keep your composure. Confidence will make all the difference in how the customer perceives your hesitation.

4. "I can see what went wrong. Let's fix that right away."

Once you've identified and understood a customer's problem, you might think that the right thing to do is escalate them to another member of the customer support or product teams. While that is often the case, don't miss an opportunity to help a customer yourself, if you can. Quick fixes can be easily carried out over social media, chat, or emails, and customers will appreciate an easy resolution.

If you can't assist customers yourself, never tell them that it's not your responsibility to help them. Even if solving their problem requires technical skills, address their predicament, then transfer them to the appropriate team. Telling the customer, “I can see what went wrong, I'll fix that for you right away” demonstrates empathy and proactivity, two qualities which greatly improve even tricky service situations.

5. "I can't fix that for you, but here's what I can do."

Sometimes, a customer's request simply won't be realistic and you'll have to let them down gently -- a task both arduous and well-known to support agents. There's no clear-cut way to say “no” to a customer because every situation presents its own contextual challenges. Nevertheless, the key is to avoid a jarring and implacable “no”.

Try to present an alternative or a compromise to the customer. Even if you cannot satisfy their request, zero in on the need behind the request. That customer's need is the crux of the issue, and attaining their goal matters more than how you help them succeed.

No matter the subject of the complaint, put your best foot forward, and don't sell out another member of the team. Leave the customer with the impression of having been cared for and at every stage of the process. This will hopefully leave them with a memory of great customer service, even if their problem is one without a perfect solution.

6. "Thank you for your feedback, I'm going to pass it along and I'll let you know what happens."

Interacting with customers will give you insight into their struggles and expectations. Even though you might not be the person who implements change related to that feedback, you need to make the customer feel heard.

Of course, don't make empty promises to customers -- they can smell the deceit from a mile away. However, if a customer makes a valid point, or highlights an underlying trend, make them feel valued and heard. The customer's voice deserves to be heard in every discussion that will affect your client base. 

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Originally published Nov 7, 2019 10:29:00 AM, updated November 07 2019

Topics:

Customer Service Skills