I realize the title of this article may confuse you; you may be thinking, “Of course I want happy customers. Happy customers are going to come back.” But as the song goes, it is not necessarily so. If they're too happy, if they're always satisfied with what they got from you and never need a similar product again, they may just move on. You see, people buy in a vacuum; and as soon as that vacuum is filled, they stop buying. You want customers who will keep coming back again and again.
My company was built on a marketplace of people who are basically unhappy. I did not realize this when I first started our company, but only because I was not taking my own experience and multiplying it by all the other people in the same market I'd bought from for years. There's a general frustration in our marketplace – and that description fit me to a T back then. It's their unhappiness that keeps them coming back. They're looking for some product or service they believe will make them happy, but it almost never works out that way.
Because happy customers stop buying, you have to find marketplaces with huge needs, marketplaces where there are never-ending problems that you and your products or services can play some role in helping them solve. But the day you solve those problems for good is the day you basically put yourself out of business.
There are so many examples of marketplaces that are unhappy … and basically, people buy because they're unhappy or frustrated. They're usually in some sort of emotional or physical pain that causes them to buy. They're looking for solutions – so you need to start with those problems. Find a hungry marketplace where people are looking for solutions. Most small businesses, for example, seem to face one problem after another – seemingly a new one every few minutes, some days – and it never ends. Small business owners are often frustrated, confused, overwhelmed, burned out, and in great emotional pain.
Quite frankly, it's one of the reasons we like this marketplace. It's filled with problems we're trying to solve on an ongoing basis, problems that will never be completely solved. You can play that problem to your personal benefit. You do not want your customers to be fully satiated.
My first business was a carpet cleaning business, so every time it rained or snowed I used to rejoice because I knew my customers' carpets were getting dirty all over again. No matter how much Scotchgard or other fabric protectors I used, I knew I'd be back there soon. So stop believing you want completely happy or satisfied customers, because they do not buy . You want customers who are happy enough, but also want to keep coming back to you. Look for marketplaces with the terrible problems that will never end, and then provide services that will also never end.
Is there any business that might want completely happy customers? Maybe a restaurant, since people will always need to eat. If they love your food, they'll come and “fuel up” there often. And I suppose it could also happen with a massage parlor or hairstylist – any business that counts on repetition. But that's not how most businesses work. You do not want them happy; you want them upset with something that you have the solution for. I realize this is a somewhat controversial idea, but I hope you can see why it's a good approach for many business owners.
I think that there's a difference between customers who are unhappy with you and customers who are happy with the status quo. You definitely want your customers to be happy with the quality of your service and product, and you want them to be satisfied with how you're serving them. But you do not want them to be happy with the way things are going in the general sense, because that results in satisfaction, which results in complacency – or at least a lack of an interest or desire in your solutions.
If I'm hungry, I'm more likely to look for a restaurant than if I'm completely full and satisfied. So the restaurants want you hungry; they do not want you to be satisfied. They want you to be happy with your meal when you end up eating there, but they do not want you to lose that hunger. They want you to be back in a few hours or the next day.
In general, people will become less interested in doing business with you if they're satisfied with the way things are going for them. If they have no reason to seek out improvement, why should they spend their money with you? A certain percentage of the population will be in that category already. They will not be good customers because they're happy all the time. They're good to go, all's well, and they do not seek out solutions. On the opposite side of that is an entire class of customers that has a whole host of dissatisfactions, so they seek out solutions that will help them with those dissatisfactions.
Those people are your best prospects. The more dissatisfied they are, the more likely they'll keep giving you solutions to them. You also need to have a fresh new group of unhappy people coming through your business on a regular basis, so look for a market that has plenty of them. The greatest marketing ideas in the world will not make you money if work a marketplace that is not extremely lucrative. Finding and catering to those markets is a big part of the secret to overall profitability.