(If you like cheesy 1980’s music, put on this song while reading.)
Last Monday night, my wife and I were tired following an active weekend of camping and hiking and then a full day of work. Because we had not gotten to our usual weekend tasks, we were planning an evening of catching up—grocery shopping, a little extra work time, and so on—already wrung out from an active workday.
Neither of us felt much like cooking or pawing through leftovers , so we walked a few blocks to a neighborhood bistro.
The chef who owns the bistro also has a superb high-end place just across the alley from our house, so we regularly run into him, his young family, and his staff. We exchange pleasantries, ask about each other’s businesses, and marvel at how big his kids are getting. When he noticed me waiting in line on Monday, he popped over to say hello. As he headed back to the kitchen, he said something I didn’t catch to the employee preparing to take our order.
As the counterperson took my credit card, he said, “Chef asked me to share our friends and family discount with you.” Think of what that simple gesture did for my mood that stressed Monday evening. It was 100% not necessary and 100% appreciated, and I still spent about the same because most of what they knocked off the food bill I happily put right back into an extra-generous tip.
I felt even better when my name got called to pick up our order, and the chef delivered it to me, grabbing two of his Valrhona chocolate and brown butter cookies with a touch of salt on top, and asked me to let him know how I liked them.
Dinner was great, the cookies were divine, and I felt like a VIP for the evening. And although I liked chef and his restaurants before and enthusiastically recommended them to friends, now I have a great story to tell, too.
How can you put more 💗 into the world, one customer relationship at a time?
How can you make every customer for your business feel like a VIP?
Without always using discounts or freebies, how can you let your clients know you value them, that you think of them as friends and family?
Here are a few ideas. Different ones will make sense for other business models. Pick a few that could work for you, and try them!
- Make all your communications audience-focused and benefit-led. Sell the experience of buying from you and getting the result(s) your customers want.
- Share, share, share—content, information, opportunities, and successes (of your business and your customers). You take for granted what your audience is eager to know. Get your point of view out there!
- Share using different media. Writing, pictures, and video each engage your audience differently, lighting up different parts of the brain, speaking to different styles of learners. Use social media platforms that work for your content types and where you know your market is spending time.
- Invite connection. Let your customers/clients know that you value their opinion and want to hear from them. From customer satisfaction or Net Promoter Score surveys to open-ended questions on social media to customer advisory boards, there’s a right-sized way for you to conduct a dialogue with your audience.
- Create community. If your product or service is not targeted at buyers who directly compete with one another, you can facilitate their learning from one another. In B2C businesses, invite sharing via social. I once helped a client with products on grocery shelves promote a recipe-sharing campaign via Instagram, magnifying their value to all their customers using crowd-sourced content—low investment, high return!
- Build connection into your DNA. Make sure your employees, across all departments, not just sales, marketing, and customer support, know how your customers think of you and understand your priority is to be outstanding in every way. Then measure it! Even the best, happiest customer sometimes needs to talk with the finance department or operations. Are all your people great at making customers feel honored, valued, and, yes, loved? Train to build awareness and competence, measure to keep track of how you’re doing.
Finally, capture what you know. When something works, share it, and codify your knowledge so it stays part of your brand. When something breaks, understand why and have a plan to fix it. Your team should be as proud of delivering great service as your customers are delighted to receive it.
Let me know what you try or how I can help you put these suggestions into practice!