No business owner or manager ever starts their day thinking, “I hope I make my customers unhappy today!” The goal is always customer satisfaction. A happy customer is a huge asset–not only will they likely be a repeat customer, but they could also tell their family and friends about your business based on their experience.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt when you feel like you’ve done a good job and made your customers smile.
For me, a positive experience with a business isn’t rooted in their basic products or services. It’s more about the little things they do to go the extra mile, show they care, or reward me for my purchase (who doesn’t love a good reward!?).
While your basic products and services do go a long way in creating happy customers, it’s all about what you do beyond those basic offerings that makes a lasting impression and creates loyal and happy customers.
So, if you’re looking for some ideas to create happy customers, we’ve got some creative, basic, and easy-to-achieve ideas for you!
1. Be known for your customer service
You can’t have a happy customer without great customer service. One study found that nearly 40% of customers will avoid a company for two years after a bad customer service experience. You have to make someone pretty unhappy to completely avoid your business for multiple years.
On the flip side, 95% of customers say that customer service is an important factor for brand loyalty. So, by delivering great customer service, you’re improving your chances of creating a happy and loyal customer.
2. Create and run a loyalty program
Speaking of loyalty, customer loyalty programs are great strategies for making customers happy. People enjoy being rewarded for their purchases, and loyalty programs are easy to create and run.
I’m a huge fan of loyalty programs – give me a stamp card, and I’ll work to fill that bad boy as fast as I can to get a discount or free item.
This donut shop gives its customers loyalty cards. Once you fill up the card, you get $10 off your purchase. Sounds like a win to me!
Loyalty programs not only create happy customers – they make sense for businesses, too. Nearly 60% of customers spend more with brands they’re loyal to.
3. Make doing business with you an experience
Creating an experience for your customers can go a long way. In fact, 86% of people are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
A great experience can comprise many aspects of your business from the way your employees interact with your customers, to the atmosphere you create in your storefront (if you have one), to how customers engage with you online.
Think about something special you can offer customers that can set your business apart from others – whether it’s wrapping up items with care and placing them in cute, branded gift bags, leaving behind a healthy snack bag when your plumbers make a house call, or just keeping your store nicely decorated, you can make a big impact in small, thoughtful ways.
This business created a membership program that makes buying from them feel like a club — plus it gives back to a local cause!
4. Surprise and delight your customers
Another way to create an experience for your customers is to surprise and delight them with special promotions, gifts, or offers. Surprise and delight marketing basically just means providing unexpected rewards to customers – and who can complain about that?!
My energy provider recently contacted me to let me know that I received a $20 concession for being a loyal customer – I wasn’t expecting anything, and it made my day! Now, when it comes time to renew my energy, I’m going to be less likely to switch because I have this connection with my existing provider.
Creating a happy customer in this way also created more loyalty to the business.
You can do this for your small business, too. Maybe you throw in a special coupon or small gift card with a purchase or give a loyal customer an extra treat from your bakery. This small gesture can go a long way in making your customers happy.
Another fun way to surprise and delight your customers is to have a special of the week or month that keeps them coming back, as this bakery does!
5. Share fun content on social media (and be responsive)
Social media is a great place for you to engage with your audience and make them smile. If a customer has chosen to follow you on any social site, they’ve chosen to make you part of their day–so by sharing fun, creative, and informative content on social media, you can increase brand loyalty and engage your audience.
It’s also important to remember that social media is a two-way street. If you have customers engaging with you, you should be responsive–meaning you reply to their comments, answer their questions, and address their concerns.
This restaurant is great at engaging with its fans and followers and answering questions on social media.
Addressing concerns in the right way can also help you make a happy customer out of an unhappy one. (We’ll talk about this more later!)
6. Run regular holiday promotions (even for the silly holidays!)
People love discounts and promotions, so don’t just save yours for the winter holidays. Look for opportunities to celebrate lesser-known or silly holidays throughout the year with promotions and discounts.
National Margarita Day, a picture of a cute dog, AND special deals? Those three things from this business make me happy!
(We’ve outlined some fun holidays + ideas your business can use to celebrate them in our marketing calendar template!)
7. Send a really great welcome email (with a discount offer)
Want to make a good impression and make a new customer happy? Then, a welcome email with a discount offer is a great option for you.
As we said, people love to get deals in their inboxes, and if you reward them for being a first-time customer with a discount, chances are, they’re going to become a repeat customer in a jiffy.
This cute welcome email came with an offer for 20% off.
8. Make it easy to get in touch with you
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to contact a business and not getting an answer. Make your customers happy by making it easy for them to get in touch with you. This means providing multiple options–phone, email, webchat, and maybe even texting!–and having someone follow up with customers as they contact you.
There are multiple ways to contact this business on their website: live chat, through their phone number, or by clicking the call to action.
You never know when a customer might abandon your business because they couldn’t get in contact with you.
9. Start a referral program
A happy customer is likely to tell their friends and family about your business, so why not reward them for that? By creating a referral program, you can encourage happy customers to spread the word about your business–and incentivize them for doing so.
This gym’s referral program encourages you to work out with friends while rewarding both you and the friend with a $50 reward.
10. Respond to reviews (and always make things right!)
Customers rely on reviews to help them make decisions about which business to work with. While negative reviews are inevitable, how you respond to them can make the difference between an angry and upset customer and a happy customer.
Follow our guide for responding to negative reviews here, and make sure to respond to positive reviews, too!
This probably didn’t make the owner’s day to see, but they took the chance to offer a solution and make things right, which might have swayed this unhappy customer!
11. Give back to your community
As a local business, you’re uniquely positioned to get involved with your local community. You can sponsor a local sports team, donate your time to a local organization, or host a canned goods drive for a local food pantry.
It makes customers happy to give their money to a business that gives back and cares. In fact, over 80% of customers say it’s important to them that a business supports charitable causes.
Think about ways you can give back and support your local community – you might even ask your employees or top customers for suggestions or to share the causes they care about to get a head start.
This business donated specialty paper for a local art installation. A way to give back that is also very on-brand!
If you’re already doing something to give back, make sure to promote that on your social media sites and even on your website so customers can see the good you’re doing!
12. Run social media contests
Running Facebook or Instagram contests and giveaways is another way to make your customers happy and get them engaged with your brand online. I’ve participated in countless social media contests with both local businesses and big brands, and it’s always exciting thinking about what I might do with my prize.
Take a note from this business and partner with other local businesses for your social media contests to bundle some great prizes.
13. Personalize your marketing
Over 60% of people expect brands to deliver personalized experiences based on their preferences. While you may not be able to scale this for every customer, you can get a jump start by personalizing your marketing.
This means tailoring discounts to your customers’ interests, making sure your email marketing is personalized by including recipients’ names and targeting customers using the right demographic information so it feels more personal to their preferences and experiences.
This is one of my favorite examples of personalized marketing. DSW sent me an email with my weather forecast and shoe suggestions based on that weather (with links to products to buy from them, of course!).
You can also keep information about your customers in your CRM or lead management system to help you note preferences, dislikes, and more so you can increase your chances of delivering a personalized experience.
14. Celebrate customer birthdays and anniversaries with email offers
An easy way to personalize your marketing is by sending customers emails on their birthday or anniversary with a discount or freebie. You can usually track this information in your CRM and set up automated emails to go out to customers with a birthday that month.
I know I always look forward to the first day of my birthday month to see what discounts and goodies I’ll get from my favorite businesses!
15. Be transparent
Transparency is important in business. Customers are happy when they feel they can trust you and your employees, and that takes transparency. For example, if you’re a plumber who says you’ll be at a customer’s house between 9 and 10 a.m. but you don’t show up until noon, have made no efforts to contact them, and provide no reason for your tardiness your customer is probably not going to be very happy.
But, if you say you’ll be there at 9:30 a.m. and call to let them know you’ll be running 5-10 minutes late while you finish up a plumbing emergency, your customer is going to be a bit more satisfied.
This plumbing business promises to be upfront and prompt. Plus, I love that they say they’ll never ask you how your plumbing emergency happened!
Being transparent with your customers in your business practices, billing, and communication can go a long way in building trust and making your customers happy. And, a lot of that comes down to respecting your customers, their time, and their money.
16. Educate your customers (instead of just selling to them)
Customers can tell when they’re being sold to, and while some level of selling is necessary to grow your business, you can make your customers happy and build brand awareness by providing educational information and content with your marketing.
Providing educational content can not only highlight your expertise in your industry, but it can position your business as a resource for your customers. When customers see your business as a resource, they’re more likely to choose your business over your competitors.
You can share educational content related to your business on your website, your social sites, and through branded content.
This vet shared an educational video about how to brush your dog’s teeth on their social sites. They offer dental services for dogs, but by creating and sharing educational content that serves their customers, they’re positioning themselves as a resource.
17. Feature customers on your blog or social media pages
Do you love to see your name in lights – or online somewhere? Featuring your customers on your blog or social media pages is a great way to make them happy and get them excited about your business.
You can feature customer quotes or testimonials, snap a picture of them in your location (with their permission), or you can even feature your customers’ businesses for some added exposure.
You can also feature your customers by sharing user-generated content, which is content they first share on their social sites that you can reshare to your business’s pages. This works great when customers tag your business on social media.
This ice cream shop featured a picture originally shared by a follower to promote National Ice Cream Day.
18. Send swag
Have your customers rep your business and give them something to get excited about by sending some free swag their way. This could be anything from stickers or magnets to T-shirts or bags. Customers love free stuff, so consider rewarding them in this way.
If you can’t give away free swag, create branded merchandise that your customers can purchase to rep your business and show their loyalty anyway.
This business sends branded stickers with every order — a fun freebie that also helps spread the word about their brand!
19. Ask for feedback and make improvements
People want to be heard. Make your customers happy by asking them how you can improve, and then actually doing it!
You can ask for customer feedback through email surveys, on social media, comment cards, or in person. Then, compile the feedback you receive, and work through what improvements are reasonable and achievable–then, make them! Use these customer feedback questions to get started.
This casino leaves comment cards for customers to fill out.
You can also communicate these improvements to your customers through email marketing or social media so they know that you heard them and took their suggestions to heart.
20. Keep your listings updated
Have you ever driven to your favorite bakery for a cupcake after a long, bad day only to find that they were closed – even though their Google Business Profile said they were open for another hour?
But, seriously, this is an easy way to make your customers happy and ensure you don’t lose business in the process.
Take time to verify and update your listings so your phone number, address, website URL, and hours of operation are correct.
21. Host events
When you’re able to connect with your customers face-to-face, you can learn a lot about them, what they like about your business, and build a relationship that promotes trust and loyalty.
If you have a storefront, hosting an event is easy. You can set up a table with some light snacks and drinks and even have a small sale to encourage people to come in.
This local business hosted a sale night that provided discounts, a free gift with purchase, a donation to a local charity, and treats!
If you don’t have a storefront, you might consider hosting a customer event each year where you rent a location or partner with another business to thank your customers, get to know them on a personal level, and build a connection with them in person.
22. Write a thank you note
This may sound a little old school, but that’s why it can make such a big impact! Make a list of your top five or 10 customers and write them a handwritten thank you note for being a loyal customer.
Look at this nice handwritten note!
This small gesture can go a long way in making your customers happy and promoting even more loyalty to your business.
PS: Get more customer appreciation ideas here!
23. Treat your employees well
Happy employees make happy customers. Your employees are the face of your business, and if they’re happy, they can easily make your customers happy, too. You’ve probably visited a business where you could tell the employee was absolutely miserable, and they probably made your experience not-so-pleasant as well.
Customers also want to reward businesses that do right by their employees – it feels icky to give your money to a business that is mistreating their employees or creating a toxic work environment.
Create an environment for your employees that rewards a positive attitude, new ideas, and fun – your customers will thank you!
This bar put their money where their mouth is and closed for a night so they could hold an employee appreciation event.
24. Be the best
Who doesn’t love doing business with the best? Get your customers to rally behind your business by going after an award–think “Best Coffee in Denver,” or “Best Accountant in Fresno.” Look for local awards that you can apply for or nominate your business for, then promote your involvement so your happy customers can show you some love.
This boutique hotel asked followers to vote for them for this award.
Don’t forget to promote your award once you get it–and maybe even offer a celebratory discount for those who supported you!
25. Don’t be afraid to have fun!
Running a business is hard work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. When you’re having fun with your business, it comes through to your customers and makes them happy they get to work with you and support you.
This bookstore created “Blind Date with a Book” for Valentine’s Day and posted a full photoshoot on Instagram — a fun way to sell some books and get people reading titles they may not have considered!
Remember what you love about your business, delegate the tasks you don’t love, and look for ways to infuse your personality and interests in your marketing and interactions.
Make those happy customers even happier!
Just one happy customer can create a ripple effect for your business in the form of referrals, repeat business, and satisfaction with your company. By putting in a little extra effort or simply spotlighting the great things you’re already doing, you can increase customer satisfaction and create loyal and happy customers.
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