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7 Ways To Stop Satisfying Customers And Start Wowing Them

Jul 3, 2012 8 min readCustomer Service

How well are we doing in terms of customer satisfaction? That seems to be a pretty standard question when it comes to dealing with people who are using your product or service.

Satisfaction? I’ve always felt that focusing on “satisfying” someone who is using what you have built is pretty lame. It’s quite demotivational actually. It doesn’t get me excited to get up and “satisfy” that next user who comes in. And neither does the person I have spoken to go away, telling everyone how satisfied they are.

How about we change the game here. How about we raise the bar and say, instead of satisfying every person, we WOW them. We shower them with such love, friendliness and helpfulness, that they are blown away. So that they tell everyone they know about you and your awesome service.

If that sounds like it’s something worth trying, let me give you 7 ways, that you can use to make exactly this happen.

1. Focus on the very first customer experience – it’s like being on a first date

To get started with WOWing your users, the key thing to focus on is the very first interaction someone has with your product. The best example of how powerful this is, was Wufoo.  Kevin Hale, who founded the company put it into this beautiful analogy:

So if you’re on a first date and you find out that your date starts picking their nose in the beginning of dinner, there will be no second date. But if you’ve been married to someone for years and they start digging for gold, you don’t immediately divorce them right away. There is something different once the relationship is already established.

So, if you have 2 tickets coming in via email, one is a repeat person, that you have spoken with before, the other one is someone who just discovered you, the choice should be clear.

Jump in immediately to fix the problem for the new user. That way, you can really create a WOW effect and give users what they want.

2. Always offer a solution – here is how

A mindset that we have started to adopt is to always, no matter what offer a solution. The key to this, we found is to get into a “whatever it takes” mindset to make the customer happy. In the case of Zappos, they very often get emails, where customers ask to get something shipped outside the US, which they don’t offer. Instead of saying that, they explain very detailed how they can get the exact same pair of shoes from a different website, that delivers to their country.

Here is what they emailed us:

We tried to do the same thing for Buffer, and it has worked tremendously well. Whenever someone asks for a feature we don’t have or a way of using us, that isn’t optimal, we offer them alternatives. We link them to at least 3 competitor products that offer these features and explain why they are great for what they are looking for.

3. Get your response time down

The number one thing, that we have found to WOW someone getting in touch for support is speed. If I can reply to someone within a few minutes of reaching out to us, I found that a large percentage of these people Tweet about us and tell their friends about us. Speed, is absolutely key, and it isn’t always easy to track it. We are using an awesome tool called HelpScout, that helps us track our response times.

Our internal goal at Buffer is to reply to every email within 60 minutes of receiving it:

Response time in hours

Right now, we manage to answer around 50% within 60 minutes every day. That’s of course something we want to improve a lot on, getting it gradually to 75% and 100% eventually. Focusing on response time is one of the most rewarding things to do, that truly WOWs any new user. Who doesn’t want to get a reply in minutes?

4. Add Personality to each response on every channel

Another way to start WOWing anyone who gets in touch about your product or service is to add as much personality as possible. I have seen that a lot of people let that slip, when it would be so easy. If you are a brand on Facebook or Twitter and you reply, I always get a feeling that I am writing with a talking wall or logo. Here is how to easily change that: The key aspect, where you can do this is Twitter and Facebook. For every reply, Tweet or comment, we add the first name of the person replying. That way, people immediately feel that they are talking to an actual person:

I have seen that some Twitter accounts, use initials in the form of “^LW” for example. Personally, I believe this isn’t as good as using the first name. With initials, I still have no idea who I am talking to and replying with “Hi LW”, doesn’t feel like a great experience to me.

You can of course do the exact same thing via email. Here you can go even further and add a very nice PS, to emphasise your offer to help even more. Here is an example of Alyssa:

5. Free vs. paid users – see no difference, here is why

A lot of companies and startups offer great customer responses – but only for paying users. I believe there is a huge advantage to not just providing some customer service, but treating them exactly the same as your paying ones. When we changed our focus here at Buffer, to do everything we can to wow our users, that was one key decision we made. We would strive to WOW our users in the exact same way, no matter if they are paid or free.  Mark MacLeod, the former CFO of and Shopify explains why:

People buy technology from startups for one of two reasons. One, it’s technology that they can’t get anywhere else, or two it’s a level of service and support and love that they can’t get anywhere else.

If nearly every free service offers bad or no customer service and you deliver an amazing one, the results will be dramatic. In our case, we are seeing lots of Tweets every day, where people are purely astonished to get such a fast response for something they are using for free. It is something And of course, from a business viewpoint, it can become your key driver for word of mouth marketing: WuFoo found that giving such outstanding support, for anyone who is using the product, was the main reason for their growth. Word of mouth about how amazingly they are treating and each and every customer propelled them into a million dollar business. The best part? You don’t have to do more support over time to do this:

6. Refund money at all times if asked – and suggest to refund if it isn’t

One of the most important things to WOW your customers and not just satisfy them is to always give them the option to get a refund. At any time. No matter who and under which condition. It is something we have made a firm policy and have received tons of amazing feedback.

Honestly, I have to say, that I really struggled with this personally for a long time. I always tried to find ways why I shouldn’t refund someone, and that’s really bad. In fact, one thing I found to be true: The more often you offer and give refunds, the less you have to do it.

The reason is simple. If someone buys your product it is all about trust. And if you always show complete transparency, by offering a refund at any time, you can really prove that. Also, as you issue refunds, you will be much more likely to investigate exactly why the person wasn’t happy with your product or service. That way you can improve the product and really feel the pain point, instead of arguing about whether you should issue a refund or not.

Kiln is an app that put this much better than I could have ever put it:

If you’re not satisfied, for any reason, within 90 days you get a full refund, period, no questions asked. We don’t want your money if you’re not amazingly happy.

7.  Do something unexpected – here are some ideas

A key part to wowing customers is to do whatever it takes and to do unexpected things. It doesn’t matter what that may be.

The great part about this is, that as the person trying to do everything to WOW your customers, you will get such an awesome feeling of happiness, once you can do these unexpected somewhat crazy things.

Here are some amazing stories:

Pretzel crisps

One sunny Friday afternoon, we were Tweeting about eating some sweets on Twitter. When Pretzel crisps jumped in out of the blue and asked if they could deliver us some free crips. And they did, the next morning:


Wufoo is famous for their Thank You cards that they sent their users – for no reason. Simply to say thanks and reach out. If you just google “Wufoo Thank You Cards” you will be amazed how much attention this got:


Of course, Zappos is another amazing example. They have tons of stories and I think these three are the most amazing ones:

Read more:

How we do it at Buffer

I’m also extremely glad that we get such fun customers that we have on board. Recently, someone was very happy using Buffer and jokingly asked us to send him a Fez. Well, Alyssa, our Happiness Hero did exactly that.

So few companies give great customer support, that’s why I believe Gary Vaynerchuck’s approach applies more than ever:

”I genuinely believe that any business can create a competitive advantage through giving outstanding customer care.” ~ Gary Vaynerchuk

Over to you now. What are you doing to work with your customers? Do you think a change in mindset from “satisfying” to “WOWing” could work for you too? I’d love your thoughts on this.

Further resources on this:

Photocredit:  Chapendra

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