It’s so simple but so often neglected:
Care about your customers and they’ll care about you.
If you care about your customers, you will spend much of your spare time thinking about how your products can improve their lives. That kind of thinking will lead directly to thoughts about how you can increase efficiency, improve quality, expand customer service – all of which will lead to increased revenues. – Michael Masterson
Or, as Gary Vaynerchuk puts it: give a $%&# about the customer (and employees) and develop a relationship with each customer.
Now, more than ever, developing a meaningful connection with each and every customer is essential for business survival. Why? Because the internet and social media have transformed the business-customer interaction.
While big companies were lifeless, anonymous robot factories throughout the 20th century, now social media allows that same business to put a face to a name and deal one-on-one with each customer.
Because the internet allows us to reach globally and cluster based on interest, it has created a small-town mentality for every niche.
The advent of the internet and social media has facilitated the convergence of two very powerful concepts:
- Immediate feedback
- Word of mouth as power
In 1984, if your Sony Discman didn’t work as advertised, you would complain to those around you. Your complaints might influence the purchase of a few close friends. Word of mouth had very little impact.
In 2012, when the newest iOS update has a map glitch, you can blog or tweet to thousands of listeners, and they can push the message even further. The word of mouth impact is magnitudes greater.
Depending on the reaction, this can be a positive stepping stone towards deeper, meaningful conversation, or it can kill the relationship between the customer and the business.
This phenomenon has helped many small, but passionate businesses become game-changers (Zappos).
It’s also destroying bigger companies that can’t wrap their heads around why we don’t want to deal with a robot or a labyrinth of menus in the (vain) hopes of speaking with a human being (Comcast).
And while big companies can get away with second-rate service for a while, the stage is set for new businesses with personal connection at their core to disrupt the status quo.
Why? Because people will pay a premium for service.
How can you (or your brand, company, gang, tribe) build that connection? Below are 4 ways to improve your business:
1) Act like a human being
- Listen and respond to questions and concerns people have. Sending blanket emails or pushing products is not acting like a human, unless you’re a very boring human that people don’t like – stop self-promoting all the time!
2) Be a human being
- No more robot menus…pick up the phone!
3) Tailor the experience to the individual
- That means making every interaction unique. This works better in some professions than others, but anyone from doctors to chemical engineers could use this advice to improve interactions with their coworkers or customers.
4) Actually care
- There’s no tactic, shortcut, or life hack for this one. Sorry folks.
One last thing: building a relationship takes YEARS. This isn’t a quarterly marketing campaign – it’s a lifestyle of caring.
That takes heart and perseverance. It takes grit.
So here’s the question: how do you create real, deep connections with your customers (and do you think it’s even worth it)?
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