Let’s talk on a global level: In the past year, I have traveled to many different countries, ranging from Cuba to the United Arab Emirates. In some countries, a cup of coffee would cost $10, and in others, it would be as cheap as 10 cents. I felt that every country had something new to offer me in terms of insight, but the countries I enjoyed traveling to the most all passed what I deemed “the happiness test.”
If they didn’t, my experience was diminished. Some countries were running on tourism, and as a country that thrives on tourism, your objective is, essentially, to do what it takes to make tourists happy. As an advisor to startups, I believe this is a lesson that many entrepreneurs could learn from: If you are not able to make your customers happy, then you could not only lose the customer, but you could also lose referrals and future business. I’ve found that many business owners don’t understand this because they are focused on the short term, and when you lack a long-term strategy, you will likely have a hard time retaining customers.
I want to share the three specific travel experiences that made me rethink how you can apply this lesson and ensure your business passes the happiness test:
Strive to make customers happy from the start.
My first experience was in Morocco. I was casually shopping around, and it was a lot of fun because never once did vendors approach me with the price of a good or service. It was all about entertaining me and trying to get my attention. I observed that this was how they were able to capture the hearts of many tourists.
In my experience, when you go somewhere, a salesperson will often try to sell you something. But when I was visiting Morocco, I felt that vendors I interacted with simply wanted to show me the best experience of my life. I saw that businesses that operated in this way were able to attract a lot of customers to their shops. Whether they used sampling or simply made the prospect feel at ease with their products, it was all about the experience. If you weren’t happy, you didn’t pay. A customer’s satisfaction was of utmost importance.
I believe the true value of a business comes from knowing that people actually value what you do, and they will always come back to you for more business. The most important part of retaining business is making your customers happy – the first time. This is so hard for businesses to grasp because they simply don’t want to spend the money to attract new customers.
As an entrepreneur, you can strive to make your customers happy from the start by developing an action plan. This plan should detail exactly what it takes to make your ideal client satisfied.
Connect to your customers.
My next favorite experience was in Armenia where I attended the World Congress On Information Technology. I got to explore so many startups that ranged from footwear to computer technology. Most of the startups’ founders approached me by asking about a challenge I was dealing with, rather than jumping straight into a pitch.
Throughout my time working with startups, I’ve found that many new leaders will tell you what they do, but they don’t try to connect the dots to their customers. I believe the only way to incentivize someone is to make sure that you connect events to their life. If you are not able to do so, then they are not a target for your products.
For example, if you are in the fitness industry and you’re trying to sell your products to someone who follows the fitness industry guidelines of “whole health,” then they will look at every ingredient of the product you are selling. If you don’t know this about that specific target audience, then you are not meeting their needs, and as a result, you might not be fulfilling the happiness test on their standards.
Take care of your customers.
My favorite place I traveled to this year was Egypt. The reason I loved Egypt so much was that the people I met seemed to truly care about one another’s happiness. When I explored various local businesses, owners were focused on making my experience a positive one. Also, I observed that the community I was in was strong: People could count on one another, and they knew that they were going to be taken care of no matter what.
One time in Egypt I was taking a taxi ride. I had fallen earlier, so my knee was pretty injured and swollen. While I was in the taxi, the driver stopped at a pharmacy to get me some cream for my knee at no additional cost. This was a moment when a stranger genuinely cared about my well-being and wanted to know I was doing well, and it’s a valuable lesson I believe entrepreneurs should remember: Taking care of your customers is key.
You can take better care of your customers by understanding if they’re happy with the products and services they use from your business. Part your action plan, which I mentioned in step No. 1, should outline how to immediately rectify the situation if a customer isn’t happy.
When a person truly focuses on the happiness of others and showing them results like they have never seen before, they will win new business left and right without question. They will lose business otherwise.