Everyone wants to build a company that customers are drawn to. Think of the Zappos, Lululemons and Apples of the world-- their customers are die-hard fans, ready to go to bat for them at a moment’s notice.
You want people to love your brand like that too, right? I know I do. I'm always looking for ways to make our customers happy. So happy in fact, that when a competitor comes calling with a better deal, they’re not even tempted.
As Seth Godin puts it, we want the “I’m not even looking” kind of loyalty. This kind of loyalty is earned by showing that you actually care about your customers.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s too expensive to go the extra mile to turn customers into fans or that they’re just one person and don’t have enough time. (Choo…choo, here comes the excuse express!)
It doesn’t take a ton of time nor does it have to cost you an arm and a leg to show customers you care.
It’s the same as being a good friend—sitting on your sofa having a heart-to-heart can be more powerful than an expensive girls’ night out. Simply put: a little love can go a long way.
So, how can you show you care and turn customers into pals? Here's my advice:
1. Feature Them on Your Site
Featuring customers on your site is a great way to show your customers the love. Just remember, make the feature about them, not about you (boring!).
Here are a few ways to feature them:
Create a happy customers page where you can show off your customers and their businesses. A page like this also shows off the wide array of customers turning to you for your products and services. Bonus!
Show off their reviews. If customers write positive things on your Facebook wall or send praising Tweets, find a way to highlight them and share them on your site. Crazy Egg has tons of reviews like this one that simultaneously promote them and their customers.
Celebrate your customers on your blog or social media accounts. Feature your customers whenever you can. Focus on what they’re all about rather than how they see you. RunKeeper is great at this. They highlight their user’s athletic accomplishments on their Instagram account (the account syncs to their blog, so this image actually appears in a couple different places).
'RunKeeper user @frankthuss rocking his Bridge2bridge race in Arnhem, the Netherlands last month #running #race #tbt #throwbackthursday'
Invite them to guest post on your blog. You’d be surprised how much your customers will appreciate this and the opportunity to reach a new audience.
2. Include Them in Stuff You’re Already Doing
You’re already doing tons of stuff to keep your own business running, right? Why not include your customers in things you’re already doing? Look at that – two birds, one stone!
Don’t get what I’m saying? Here’s what I mean: We pitch the press all the time, but sometimes we see opportunities and press leads that are better suited for our customers so we’ll pitch them (with their permission, of course!) instead.
Another example? For Halloween, our culture team planned a pumpkin carving contest at HQ. Instead of going out and buying a book of templates, we called Pumpkin Wow, one of our customers, and bought their pumpkin tattoos. Now, we’ve not only used their tattoos (they’re awesome!), but we’ve also included them in this blog post.
Ask yourself: What are you doing that you could keep you customers in mind for?
3. Help Them…Selflessly
Ever meet someone that only talked about themselves? Ugh, they’re the worst! If you want customers to fall in love with you, you need to forget about the bottom line for a minute and s_elflessly_ help your customers by putting their needs first.
If you’re more established than your customers then why not use your powers for good? Taco Bell followed model Christine Teigen on Twitter and was able to reap the love when she publicly thanked them. She was so impressed that Taco Bell reached out and followed her! It took ONE SINGLE tweet to solidify this customer’s love.
Sure, selflessly taking the time to help your customers may prevent you from accomplishing other tasks, but the return will be much greater than any money you would’ve earned in the short-term. Long-standing positive sentiment is impossible to buy. Promise.
4. Pay Attention and Remember Their Stories
You’re a human being and-- news flash!-- so are your customers. Yet, for some reason companies still treat customers like numbers in the CMS rather than like pals.
Treat customers like friends, not like numbers.
Did the customer tell you it was their son’s birthday last month? Ask how it was! Better yet, send a birthday card.
I was really impressed by the postcard charity: water sent my coworker. She was training for a half marathon to raise money for clean water when she got a postcard that made her feel like a real rock star:
A few months ago, Devan Perine of EnMast sent me an email saying she had been meaning to pick up a book we’d included in a recent blog post, so I decided to send her the book. She ended up writing a post about how excited she was:
This took me all of two minutes to Google the book, buy it on Amazon and write Devan a note. See, told you it doesn’t take a ton of time!
5. Include Surprising Extras
Including extras isn’t always special. When you fly on an airplane, you’re not surprised or enchanted when you’re given a bag of peanuts.
If you’re an ecommerce company shipping out packages or a company like ours offering a service, an element of surprise can do a lot to excite your customers.
Imagine receiving a chocolate bar equipped with an extra piece to share. Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! wrote a post about Milka’s inspiring chocolate campaign in France. Milka decided they wanted people to share their last chocolate square with someone they care about.
That special person received the last square in the mail with this message:
Quelqu’un a decidé de vous offrir le dernier carré de sa tablette Milka.
(Someone has decided to give you the last piece of their Milka chocolate bar)
What do I say to a surprising extra like that? Oui! J’aime Milka!
Now, what if you got a piece of cheesecake when the server dropped off the bill? It’d make paying that bill that much less painful, right? Like I said, it’s the little things.
6. Give Them the Benefit of the Doubt
When people become users, it’s easy to forget they’re flesh and blood humans. Toss the red tape out the window and tear down the wall of policies that stand between you and your customer. Not everyone is trying to pull a fast one on you.
Remember that time you completely forgot to pay your credit card bill? You weren’t trying to escape the bill (I hope). You honestly forgot…but your credit card company won’t.
Give your customers the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume they’re all out to get you. They need an extra week on their bill? Help them out if you can. After all they say, “It’s cheaper, easier, and more effective to retain current customers than it is to acquire new ones.”
Just remember, things happen. They happen to us and they happen to our customers. Being human and understanding will pay you back in dividends. Think: word of mouth, referrals etc.
7. Say Thanks
What a novel idea, right!? When someone does something nice for you—whether it’s by giving you feedback, writing about you in a blog post, sharing a piece of your content, recommending a tool, or just continuing to be a loyal customer-- say THANK YOU.
A simple, genuine “thank you” impresses customers more than anything else.
Writing handwritten thank you notes has become a best practice at Grasshopper because it’s really successful. It makes people feel SO good and it couldn’t be easier to do.
Stephen Webb, founder of Meta Loop, won a prize for filling out our customer survey. He got a whole bag of goodies, but his favorite part of the package was the thank you note.
Videos are good way to thank customers, too. We use Vsnap to send quick video thank yous. When customers fill out our Tell Us Your Story form, we send a Vsnap to give them a more human connection with us.
Make it Human
Showing customers you care isn’t an exercise in making people love your brand. It’s more about showing genuine, human compassion and creating positive relationships. The brand love will follow.
Remember it’s the little things that make a difference. Always be thinking of and looking for new ways to build trust and authentic (key word!) relationships with your customers.
When you’re transparent, friendly, fun, and generous, the customer love is sure to follow.
Your turn: How do you make your customers feel good? What do you do to encourage customer love? Any tips for giving thank yous?