When we talk about the power of identity management, we're quick to remind everyone that their customers are real people. We often encourage businesses to view their customers as more than just numbers, and this mentality is crucial when it comes to calculating your customers' happiness.

You have to understand their needs, their pain points and their relationship with your product in order to understand whether or not your customers are satisfied. You have to be willing to reach out and listen to them, taking the time and attention to connect with how your customers are feeling and what grievances they have.

While the methods we suggest using to reach out to your customers aren't revolutionary, the special sauce is that extra time you spend making sure you connect with your customers as people in order to understand how happy they are with you and your products.

Monitor Your Social Media

If you have a social media presence or a website—and you probably do—one of the most direct interactions you get with your customers is through those channels. Tweets, comments, likes, and direct messages are all great sources of customer sentiment.

One way to collect social media data is manually, where people responding to comments or monitoring posts can log what's happening themselves. Whether a feature release post is getting a lot of likes, or many customers start tweeting about a product bug, seeing how your customers are reacting and keeping track of that is a great way to stay on top of general sentiment.

Monitoring social media manually is also hugely important because you can start a dialogue with people, ask them questions about their concerns, and direct them to support. It can be a way to assure customers that their feedback is being heard, like UnderArmour does with a commenter on their website:

UnderArmour answer's to a comment on their website

Or it can be a way to try and troubleshoot with an individual customer, like Lululemon does here—note that these kinds of interactions can lead to very fruitful conversations with customers. If they've already taken the time to reach out via your website or social media, chances are they'll be willing to talk to you and explain why they're (un)happy.

Lululemon interacting with customers

There are also CRM tools that can help you with "sentiment research". Automation definitely has its place here. The time and cost of having an employee go through and track every single tweet, post, and comment is prohibitive, but software can help you by scanning and tracking words, emojis, and likes. This will give you an overall picture of your customer satisfaction.

The downside of social media is that you're likely getting extremes: people that are really invested in your brand, really happy, or really angry. While it's good to monitor, social is only one part of the customer happiness picture.

Email Your Customers to Open Up a Conversation

Email is one of the most ubiquitous ways that companies communicate. It's an easy way to connect one-on-one with customers, and easy for customers to reply to, which makes it a great tool to use for measuring customer happiness.

You want to keep your emails engaging and relevant, so here are a few tips to follow as you reach out:

  • Reply, reply, reply. When customers are asked to give feedback, it's important to reply to them. One survey found that 43% of people weren't likely to give companies feedback because they felt it would fall on deaf ears. You don't have to start a full-blown conversation with everyone, even just letting people know you heard them makes customers feel like their input is valued.
  • Email strategically. There isn't an inbox in the world today that isn't clogged with unread and spammy emails. Instead of adding to the mania, pick and choose who you want to email, and when. Email after purchases, or after someone's tried out a new feature to get directed feedback. With Auth0, you can track number of logins and trigger emails based on that, which is a great way to get a sense of people's feelings as they use your product more and more.
  • Track your responses. When a new customer email comes in, make sure there's a clear system in place to log the conversation. Was it a feature suggestion or a complaint? Was it a shipping question or a glowing thank you? Customer support teams should be fully primed to take down any type of response to gather aggregate data.

Use analytics as a starting point

Analytics can give you great insight into your customers' experiences, but you don't need to be an analytics whiz to use them to help you get a read on customer happiness.

One easy way you can use analytics is by helping inform email questions, surveys, or other communications you send to customers. Notice that a new feature has a lot of people using it once and never again, or that customers are twice as likely to repurchase one product, and you have something interesting to explore with your team.

Another easy way to track customer happiness is to look at key metrics, whether that's playtime on an app, number of projects created, number of items purchased, or whatever else is relevant to your business. If you see low numbers or changes in these metrics, that's another good starting point for reaching out to customers.

You can also use analytics to identify different segments of customers to contact, whether that's power-users, one-time purchasers, Android users, or any other grouping. For example, if you're trying to gauge reactions on your latest feature release, you want to get a critical mass of users who tried the feature before you send an email asking for feedback. And, when you do send the email, you'll be able to identify only those users rather than bombarding everyone asking about a feature they haven't used.

Send Out a Survey

The bread and butter of keeping your finger on your customers' pulse is creating a survey. These can range from questions that pop up on your website to emailed forms. Yes, surveys are easy to throw together, but there are things you need to keep in mind to make them effective:

  • Keep every survey short and sweet. When a customer gets trapped in a lengthy survey that bounces around from topic to topic, they won't finish it. Let your customers know what your survey is about and how long it should take them to complete it — and be honest! Don't say your survey is five minutes long, and then give a 40 question survey.

StubHub not-so-short survey

StubHub not-so-short survey

  • Pick the right kinds of questions. Where some queries fit very well on a 1-10 scale, others need multiple choice responses or short answer boxes. Keep your question and answer styles consistent throughout a survey and appropriate for the material.
  • Give a progress marker. If your survey is more than one page, give people a sense of how far they have left to go in a survey to keep people answering to the end, and not getting frustrated and ducking out.

Progress marker on survey

  • Make the questions foolproof. Customers are already going out of their normal routine to open a survey and answer questions for you, and the last thing you should make them do is have to puzzle through questions. Your questions should be clear, and direct.

  • Offer a reward. To thank customers for giving you their time, you can add a reward to your survey — like a discount code or entry in a raffle. Survey and conversion rate optimization experts Qualaroo say that you can expect to see up to a 15% bump in responses if you offer a reward.

Make a connection

Talking with your customers and keeping up with their satisfaction is a crucial part of running a company, but it isn't often something that's built into the routine practice of building a business. While you know that your customers are people using your product, you aren't thinking about them as an individual, every day.

But when you set out to try and measure their happiness, you've got to make a shift from the abstract customers that you imagine and the people that are out there living and breathing your product. Treat your quest to measure customer happiness like you would treat a quest to improve any good relationship: be proactive, be honest, be responsive, and always go in thinking how can I make our shared experience better?

Aside: Securing Applications with Auth0

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