Recently we have found that there is a growing interest in the subject of customer happiness and that we are being asked by organisations and governments about how to implement a positive psychology approach, which will increase the happiness of their customers.

The case for focusing on customer happiness

In the United Arab Emirates, as part of their National Happiness and Positivity Programme the government has now changed the title of their Customer Services departments to be Customer Happiness departments. It may only be a change of one word, but psychologically it can have a bigger impact. I liken it to a difference between ‘traditional’ psychology and positive psychology. Where ‘traditional’ psychology has looked at overcoming illness or difficulty to return to a normal state, positive psychology seeks to take people to a state of flourishing and success. To me, Customer Service can feel like taking a customer to where they are satisfied, whereas Customer Happiness goes that step further to where the customer is delighted.

A study by Bain and Company showed that when customers are unhappy customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if their issue is due to service rather than price or product related. They also go on to say that it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer.

Another report, conducted by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, found that a dissatisfied and unhappy customer will tell between 9 to 15 different people about their poor customer service experience. Conversely, the report showed that of customers who are happy after their issue is resolved, they will only tell between 4 to 6 people of their customer experience.

As you can imagine, these are some compelling reasons to keep your customers happy as it can impact on profit, your brand and customer loyalty.

The 5 Rs of customer happiness

The work that we’ve recently been doing with organisations and governments to improve customer happiness has focused on evidence-based tools from the field of positive psychology. Happiness has been a key concept in positive psychology as it seeks to discover what enables people to live a life worth living and there is an extensive body of research into how we can increase happiness.

Additionally, at Positive Psychology Learning, we believe that there are 5 Rs to customer happiness (based on the 4 Rs by Reg Connolly of Pegasus NLP, which is based on a model by Gary Yardley.

Respect – Showing each customer respect and that as a valued customer they are deserving of the highest quality of service from you

Responsibility – Taking responsibility for ensuring that there is regular communication with your customer and that you will be accountable       for their issue being resolved

Recognition – Acknowledging the issue that the customer has and recognising that it is causing them dissatisfaction and maybe distress, which is what you must overcome to create customer happiness

Reassurance – Giving your customer the reassurance that you care about their issue and that you will do your utmost to resolve it quickly and effectively

Resilience – Going that extra mile for your customer and overcome challenges even in the event of setbacks, so as to make your customer happy

Creating customer happiness

By creating a customer interaction that fosters the experience of more positive emotions, it is logical that your customer will be happier. The starting point for organisations is to establish a working environment where your customer service employees are able to experience more positive emotions themselves. Research into what is called the ‘Happiness Contagion’ has shown that happiness is infectious and so if your employees are happy, they are going to provide a better service to your customers.

What creates customer happiness in your organisation may not be the same elements that create customer happiness in other organisations. This is why we work with organisations to explain the key concepts of positive psychology, e.g. happiness, gratitude, strengths, emotions and resilience, in order to generate a customer happiness programme tailored for your organisation.

To find out more about applying positive psychology in the workplace, click here.