Article | 9 min read

What is customer happiness? (+5 ways to improve it)

Customer happiness—not customer satisfaction alone—is critical to long-term business growth and success.

By Peter Alig, Contributing Writer

Published December 8, 2016
Last updated March 23, 2022

Customers are becoming increasingly fickle with brands. According to a recent Raydiant survey, 25 percent of consumers switch brands more often today than they did before.

Why? Because customer expectations are continually evolving. Buyers might claim that they’re satisfied with the way you handled a customer service issue, but how can you be sure they’re genuinely happy and unlikely to churn?

Keeping customers happy is easier said than done. The good news is that customer happiness is measurable and trackable, and there are some surefire ways to keep the happiness barometer moving in the right direction.

What is customer happiness?

Customer happiness is the level of satisfaction customers experience after interacting with your company, product, or service. A truly happy customer is so confident in your ability to meet their needs quickly and effectively that they don’t hesitate to recommend your brand to others.

Customer happiness vs. customer satisfaction: What’s the difference?

As performance indicators, customer happiness and customer satisfaction are not interchangeable.

customer happiness




Customer happiness is a predictor of brand loyalty. Loyal customers are more likely to remain with your company despite tempting offers from competitors. They’ll even promote your products or services through word of mouth. Customer happiness comes from creating a unique or memorable experience.


Customer satisfaction, on the other hand, simply means you meet your customers’ basic expectations. The interactions they have with your team, service, or product are in line with their standards but don’t exceed them.

While having “satisfied” customers may seem like enough, the problem is that they may not feel emotionally tied to your brand. Without that connection, you’re at a high risk of being replaced by another brand in the future.

customer satisfaction

Why is customer happiness important?

A happy customer has been delighted by a series of positive experiences and developed an emotional connection with your brand. As a result, they’ll purchase from you more often, and you’ll see their customer lifetime value grow.

In the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, 75 percent of consumers said they’re willing to spend more with businesses that give them a good customer experience. Additionally, 57 percent of respondents said excellent customer service is a factor in their brand loyalty.

75% of consumers said they’re willing to spend more with businesses that give them a good customer experience.

Clearly, companies must prioritize CX to keep customers happy and earn their repeat business. If customers’ needs are evolving, then organizations must evolve along with them, too. Devote resources to measuring customer happiness so you can ensure that your business isn’t stagnating or left behind.

How to measure customer satisfaction and customer happiness

Before you can measure customer happiness, you need to measure customer satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores help you determine whether you’re meeting your audience’s expectations, while Net Promoter Score (NPS) gets you closer to a customer happiness measurement.

Customer satisfaction scores

CSAT scores are KPIs that help you assess the quality of your customer support, products, or services. You collect this metric using short and simple CSAT surveys.

Say you want feedback on a recent customer service experience. You send a one-question survey to the customer asking, “How satisfied were you with the support you received?” The customer can choose from options ranging from “very dissatisfied” to “very satisfied.” To calculate your CSAT score, divide the sum of all positive responses by the total number of responses collected, and then multiply the result by 100.

You can’t exceed customer satisfaction until you first meet it, and CSAT scores can serve as your benchmarks.

Net Promoter System

While CSAT scores evaluate individual customer experiences, the Net Promoter System evaluates the impact of a series of experiences. It also gauges customer loyalty.

At the center of this system is the Net Promoter Score (NPS®), which is calculated based on responses to a single question: “How likely are you to recommend us to someone you know?” Participants answer with a rating between 0 (very unlikely) and 10 (very likely).

  • Respondents who leave a rating between 0 and 6 are detractors—they’re unhappy with your product or service and are likely to speak negatively of your brand to others
  • Respondents who leave a rating of 7 or 8 are passives—these are your satisfied customers who can easily be lured away by competitors because you haven’t made them truly happy
  • Respondents who leave a rating of 9 or 10 are promoters—they’re enthusiastic about and loyal to your brand, and they’re valuable partners in increasing your company’s growth

The more customers you get to complete the survey, the more reliable your overall assessment of customer happiness will be. Make sure your NPS survey is anonymous so customers are more comfortable responding truthfully.

Free customer experience guide

Find out how to create great customer experiences that will lead to loyal customers, improved word-of-mouth promotion, and increased revenue.

5 ways to improve customer happiness

While satisfied customers might make future purchases, happy customers will reliably return to your brand and actively promote it. Here are five ways you can turn more satisfied customers into happy, loyal customers.

  1. Foster an emotional connection with your customer base

    Customer happiness cannot exist without an emotional connection to your brand. The relationships you form with customers are just as important as the product or service you offer.

    Give your brand a memorable personality to start building customer rapport and trust. One idea is to let team members choose unique photos for the About Us page on your website.

    Instead of placing homogenous studio photos on its Team page, SEO and digital marketing services provider Moz showcases photos that capture its employees’ individuality. This is a great way to “break the ice” and create a connection with new customers.

    customer happiness

    You can also share stories that shine a spotlight on the human element of your business. Delivery route planner OptimoRoute harnesses the power of storytelling to connect with customers.

    customer happiness

    The stories not only convey what the company is passionate about but also describe how its product contributes to customer success. They show buyers that their purchases are helping to make the world a better place. How could that not make customers happy?

  2. Address customer concerns as quickly as possible

    A customer might love your product. But if your customer support falters, that love can quickly fade. We found that 50 percent of customers will switch to a competitor after one bad experience.

    50% of customers will switch to a competitor after one bad experience.

    To keep customers happy, emphasize speed and personalization when you address their concerns. Our Customer Experience Trends Report 2021 revealed that 73 percent of consumers prize quick resolutions, up from 61 percent in 2020.

    You can accelerate interactions by increasing your support staff or providing multiple channels—such as live chat, AI chatbots, and social media—to help more customers. Zendesk Suite not only features numerous channel options but also unites all conversations in a single platform, giving your support team a 360 customer view.

  3. Reward satisfied customers

    Loyalty programs are a great way to promote customer retention and reduce churn. As part of a loyalty or rewards program, buyers receive discounts or freebies after reaching certain milestones, like having been a customer for one year.

    Bear in mind that repeat buyers don’t necessarily join loyalty programs because they’re already happy. They might join only for the incentives. But the enhanced experience you give them as a loyalty program member can transform their satisfaction into happiness.

    Customers want loyalty programs, too. McKinsey’s Consumer Paid Loyalty Survey found that 63 percent of buyers pay for at least one loyalty program. And 59 percent are more likely to stay with brands if they pay for a loyalty program. (Loyalty programs can also be free to join.)

    63% of buyers pay for at least one loyalty program.

    You can base your customer rewards on how much money they spend, how many people they refer, or how frequently they make purchases. You’ll need to do some research to determine which loyalty program model is best for you and your audience.

    You might want to consider the referral model, as a customer’s willingness to become a brand advocate is a sign of happiness. Tesla keeps its referral program simple: Its solar panel and roof customers earn between $300 and $500 for each referral who ends up making a purchase.

  4. Take customer feedback seriously

    It’s one thing to provide excellent customer service. It’s something else entirely to look at the totality of customer feedback and use it to refine your products, services, or business processes.

    Say a customer calls to report that a shirt isn’t fitting properly. You can satisfy that unhappy customer by sending them a replacement. But what if the shirt has a production flaw? A second failed shirt could trigger the customer to move to a competitor.

    There are several ways to aggregate customer feedback. Besides sending CSAT surveys, you can also create an integrated community forum where you encourage customers to tell you how you’re doing.

    Once you collect feedback, it’s important to act on it. Make improvements where necessary, and let your customers know about the changes. They’ll feel heard, validated, and valued—all of which go a long way toward boosting happiness.

  5. Prioritize saying “Thank you” and “I’m sorry”

    If you want to create connections with your customers, you need to acknowledge and respect their needs. This means taking ownership of a failure to meet expectations and expressing gratitude when the situation calls for it. If 49 percent of customers want support agents to be empathetic, they expect as much from other company employees, too.

    That shirt that didn’t fit properly? Send a follow-up email apologizing for the inconvenience, and include a discount code for a future purchase. If that customer does buy another clothing item, send a handwritten note thanking them for their business.

    Whichever form of gratitude you choose, the goal is customer appreciation. When a customer feels appreciated, they’re more likely to remain loyal—and happy.

Customer happiness can mean the difference between success and failure

Today’s consumers have higher expectations than ever before. Aiming for satisfaction isn’t enough to win loyal buyers—your company needs to achieve customer happiness.

Emotionally invested customers are not only more likely to stick by your brand but also to promote it to others in their social circles. Use the tools and tactics discussed earlier to continually measure and improve customer happiness. The growth and success of your business depend on it.

Free customer experience guide

Find out how to create great customer experiences that will lead to loyal customers, improved word-of-mouth promotion, and increased revenue.

Free customer experience guide

Find out how to create great customer experiences that will lead to loyal customers, improved word-of-mouth promotion, and increased revenue.

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