The Super-Happy Customer

Hint: The secret is great PR through communication.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Published ini­tially on Idea Hunt.

I often think about the super-happy customer.

During my career, I’ve found that the best way to sell more is to make one cus­tom­er super-happy. Because then, and only then, will that cus­tom­er go out of their way to tell their friends.

In my not-so-sci­entif­ic estim­a­tion, a super-happy cus­tom­er will aver­age gen­er­ate at least one new customer.

So, what does this mean from a pub­lic rela­tions perspective?

Some Super-Happy Mathematics

If there’s any sci­entif­ic rel­ev­ance to my per­son­al obser­va­tions what­so­ever, allow me to expand on the idea of the super-happy cus­tom­er a bit fur­ther — using simple maths.

Let’s assume that each cycle is one month. In the first month, you will have one cus­tom­er; in two months, you will have two. Cool.

But what if you could find a way to make these two new cus­tom­ers super-happy, too? In three months, four new cus­tom­ers per cycle. Then eight, then 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, and so on. 

The expo­nen­tial growth:

2[num­ber of months]

According to my math, your com­pany will be Earth’s most prom­in­ent brand in a few years. Super-cool.

Making Customers Super-Happy is Difficult

Obviously, and for whatever reas­on, the above scen­ario rarely hap­pens. It’s safe to say that it’s dif­fi­cult to make cus­tom­ers super-happy, espe­cially if you have many of them.

However, most of us don’t have mil­lions of customers.

Not for lack of try­ing, though. Making cli­ents super-happy without wast­ing profit mar­gins or enga­ging in altru­ist­ic pro bono is challenging.

And it gets worse.

Not all busi­nesses need “brand ambas­sad­ors” in the typ­ic­al sense, either. Coca-Cola sales are likely to be much more closely tied to avail­ab­il­ity and being top-of-mind. 

However, give me an ice-cold Coke Zero on a hot sum­mer day, and I’ll be a super-happy cus­tom­er. Otherwise, it would­n’t work for a glob­al and suc­cess­ful brand like Coca-Cola.

Can I make my cus­tom­ers super-happy like that? Can you?

How Being “Customer-Centric” Won’t Suffice

You just have to be customer-centric.”

Well, I don’t know. I like how Apple is focused on build­ing the best pos­sible products and how they’re product-cent­ric. And I kind of like how Google is value-cent­ric and Amazon is availability-centric.

Also, I know of “cus­tom­er-cent­ric ” com­pan­ies, but few of their cus­tom­ers are going out of their way to pro­mote these brands.

Put anoth­er way: Being cus­tom­er-cent­ric might be great for a spe­cif­ic busi­ness, but it won’t ensure expo­nen­tial growth where each cus­tom­er refers to anoth­er in every cycle.

In the end, what mat­ters is that you have some sort of capa­city to cre­ate a super-happy cus­tom­er at least every once in a while.

Dodging the Honey Trap

One sure­fire way to cre­ate super-happy cus­tom­ers is to over-deliv­er (the same thing as under-charging).

As a juni­or PR con­sult­ant, I went this route. I inves­ted an insane amount of my per­son­al time — which often made both my employ­ers and my cli­ents super-happy. This approach was­n’t long-term sus­tain­able, how­ever. Trading my chances of being super-happy was only an effi­cient short-term strategy.

It’s a honey trap.

If you over-deliv­er once, savvy cus­tom­ers will quickly come to expect this pos­it­ive curve from you. Without pay­ing more for your efforts, they expect you to con­tinu­ously deliv­er more and more value. And then some­thing, some­where, some­how, will break. 

The key must be to estab­lish excel­lent pub­lic rela­tions without spend­ing the profit mar­gin and without trad­ing away your own chances of being super-happy and becom­ing true fans.

But how?

The Answer is… Communication

Several years into my pro­fes­sion­al career, I finally figured it out. I figured out the secret of mak­ing cus­tom­ers super-happy.

And this secret turned out to be a cent­ral irony.

The secret to mak­ing cus­tom­ers super-happy is excel­lent pub­lic rela­tions. And the secret to great pub­lic rela­tions is… com­mu­nic­a­tion.

The cent­ral irony here is that, giv­en what I do for a liv­ing, I prob­ably should’ve figured this one out quite a bit sooner.

Here’s how:

  • Communication is used to build and main­tain relationships.
  • Communication is used to set and man­age expectations.
  • Communication is used to man­age feed­back to improve per­cep­tions, products and services.
  • Communication is used to scale and facil­it­ate growth.
  • Communication is used to attract the right customers.
  • Communication is used to hire the best people for the job.
  • Communication is what lead­ers use to facil­it­ate great teamwork.
  • Super-happy cus­tom­ers use com­mu­nic­a­tion to attract new customers.

So, there it is. Excellent com­mu­nic­a­tion is the MVP of cre­at­ing super-happy cus­tom­ers as long as your deliv­ery is good enough.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has


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