In the Pursuit of Business Happiness, the Customer Comes First

Media Inquiries: Contact Karen Budell, CMO

Media Inquiries: Contact Karen Budell, CMO

While great businesses often grow through aggressive sales tactics, hustling in networking and getting that big new deal, the best money that any company can find is either through current customers or referrals. Those that love the product they're already buying that are given a solution that grows and adapts to their needs are going to be a continuing, comforting source of revenue. Great business minds and writers have written on the subject a great deal, such as Inc's very own Donna Fenn, who recommends business, for example, make "intelligent" upsells, such as offering features that they know their customers already want. For the realistic business person, this does not mean they should shut down their sales team entirely, but create a culture in their business that says the customer is vital, and that making the sales cycle never-ending is key.

The question of whether a chief happiness officer needs to exist is one that many are asking, including The Guardian's careers inspiration, because the position is very easily interpreted as a generic role that could mean just about anything. A customer happiness officer of any kind exists to empower the company to empower the customer. Even esteemed business mind Peter Drucker believed that customer happiness is the key to every business, and thus this is the newest sales trend; the internal sales pipeline that is making your customers stick around. The Bonobos Ninjas, working for men's clothing company Bonobos, have created the culture that the customer must be worked with post-purchase, even if it means losing initial margins to keep them around for more and more purchases. It's the future of customer service; that the customer is not just there to be worked with when stuff goes wrong, but to make sure it's always, always right.

Totango, a company based in San Mateo, specializes in software that focuses on a term they use called "customer success." This is completely different to the world of customer support, and to investor and co-founder of EchoSign Jason Lemkin is an essential starting point of any business. Founded in 2010, Totango gives users automated and active tools to fight churn in your business, where customers are eventually leaving, either for a competitor or because the solution is not worth their time. Totango, which quotes that renewals and upsells account for 50-70% of enterprise SaaS business, evaluates accounts consistently for usage patterns, spending, growth, and even notices when your key advocates in an organization are less active in a company. At their recent customer success summit, Guy Nirpaz the CEO, in addition to announcing his book "Farm Don't Hunt," a book written for customer success teams, also announced a revenue center for enterprise users to analyze churn in real time, help customer success agents prioritize accounts and other essential enterprise features.

Though clich at this point, Zappos' Tony Hsieh is comparable in the consumer space, focusing on customer happiness as a mission statement. Where an enterprise customer is measured in very specific ways (whether they renew a service, how much they use it, their willingness to upgrade), someone buying shoes or clothes is hard to keep in an insanely busy marketplace. Thus Zappos had to create their own customer happiness program, going beyond the simple one-day return and free shipping programs and building a culture internally and externally. Tweet that your order of shoes is coming from Zappos, and you will regularly hear from an agent on Twitter to make sure you're happy. If you're worried an order won't make it in time, you can call and the agents will work with you to find a way to get it to the right location. Small allowances from strict corporate behavior (we only provide three shipping options, and they must stay as they are) are what keep Zappos customers from leaving.

The trend of customer happiness (and "success") has grown out of the facelessness of the internet. While we are used to dealing with websites where we simply click and buy an object or a service, we have also on some level got used to not being treated as more than a transaction. As more companies wise up to the potential of making us happy in the same way a good sales associate in a store would, so will commerce and business become that bit more pleasant.

Originally published at