Why Stop at Satisfaction When You Can Generate Happiness and Gratitude?

Are you present to the big difference between a satisfied customer and a happy-grateful one?

There is a satisfied customer. There is a happy customer. And there is a happy-grateful customer.  Too often we are not present to these distinctions. You and I can create satisfied customers simply by taking care of the functional aspects of the customer experience. To create a happy and grateful customer requires the human touch that evokes positive, life affirming emotions.  And, I say that the human touch makes all the difference when it comes to repeat business and customer advocacy in a services centred business.  Allow me to share a story with you.

“I like Hussein.  He’s friendly, kind and genuine.”  That is what my daughter said to me, with a big smile on her face, as we were leaving The Daruchini, our local Bangladeshi restaurant in Binfield.   I found myself feeling the same way.  What had turned a usually satisfactory experience, at this restaurant, into a happy memorable experience this time?

How do you create a memorable customer experience? 

On a cold windy rainy day, my daughter and I had turned up at The Daruchini, a Bangladeshi restaurant, to pick up the takeaway meals that my wife had ordered.  Walking up to the bar, a young man greeted us with a smile. We did not know him, yet he seemed to know us.  He confirmed the order and the price with me. Whilst he was doing this his colleague spoke to him in a language that I did not understand.

To my surprise, this young man turned to me and apologised for speaking his native language.  So I asked him what language they were speaking. “Bangladeshi” he told me.  Then he asked me where I came from, originally.  I told him that I came from Pakistani administered Kashmir.  At this point, he turned to my 12 year old daughter and asked her, in a friendly way, if she had ever been there.  My daughter shook her head. I said that I had not been willing to take her there as I considered it too risky. The young man agreed with me and told me that I had made a wise choice.  Right there I felt accepted, acknowledged, validated, understood. I noticed a connection and found myself asking for his name.  He told me his name (Hussein) and I shared my name with him.

Then our takeaway food order arrived. Hussein opened the refrigerator where the drinks are kept. And he asked my daughter if she drank Fanta (fizzy drink).  She smiled and said “Yes.”  Hussein hand her a can of Fanta.  I noticed that I was surprised.  I noticed that I was feeling happy. And I noticed that I felt gratitude toward Hussein for his kindness towards my daughter.  I thanked Hussein and we left the restaurant.

We got into our car and were about to drive off when Hussein caught up with us.  He told us that it was likely that our food order had been mixed up with another food order. So he asked to take the food order away so it could be checked. He apologised for the mix up. And told us that he would be back in a couple of minutes with the correct order.

Shortly, afterwards Hussein was back, walking across the car park in the rain.  He apologised for the mix-up and for keeping us waiting. Then he told us that he had given us an extra dish, free of charge, to make up for keeping us waiting.  Once again, I found myself surprised and feeling happy.  This is when my daughter said “I like Hussein.  He’s friendly, kind and genuine.”

What is the lesson here?

It occurs to me that how Hussein showed up, his attitude and his little acts of kindness, cannot be scripted.  They cannot be turned into process . It occurs to me that your organisation will either create space for these qualities to show up or will suppress them.  With that in mind I have three questions for you:

1. Does your organisation recruit and retain people like Hussein?

2. Does your organisation create a space for your people to be genuinely friendly, responsive, and kind with your customers – to respond to the unique customer situation?

3. Does your organisation call forth the best of your people – their humanity, their ability to connect with your customers?  Or does your organisation suppress the best of your people through rules, scripts, process and fear of breaking the standard rules?

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant. Passionate about enabling customer-centricity by calling forth the best from those that work in the organisation and the intelligent application of digital technologies. Subject matter expert with regards to customer strategy, customer insight, customer experience (CX), customer relationship management (CRM), and relationship marketing. Working at the intersection of the Customer, the Enterprise (marketing, sales, service), and Technology.

4 thoughts on “Why Stop at Satisfaction When You Can Generate Happiness and Gratitude?”

  1. Maz,

    I wonder how much of this is down to the people we recruit and how much of it is down to the way we treat them once we have recruited them.

    Is it possible to bring about this behaviour in people who don’t naturally behave that way? I sense it is fairly easy to beat it out of people who do.



    1. Hello James

      Great points. It occurs to me that you can take great people and then create a context/environment that suppresses their greatness and instead calls forth ‘averageness’. It also occurs to me that it is possible to take not so great people and create a context that calls forth greatness from them: we are affected by how others behave and how we stand in relation to those people. I have witnessed this first hand – ‘C’ players over time show up as ‘A’ players simply because they were related to and called forth as ‘A’ players in waiting.

      And I get there are people who, no matter what, do not wish to do anything other than get as much as they can for themselves irrespective of the cost to others. Arguably, those are some of the most successful ‘people’ in our extractive society where ‘greed is good’.



  2. Hi Maz,
    I was facilitating at the European Customer Experience World conference the other day and whilst listening to many of the one of the big themes that was shiny through was that the people you hire, how you treat, how you train them and how you empower them is absolutely key to creating a memorable customer experience. To see and hear that warmed my heart 🙂



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