See that awesome spread over to the right? This was exactly where I spent the early years of my life – curled up with Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael in my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bed (water bed to be exact). I loved…no, I was obsessed with TMNT – and I was 100% loyal to them. I vividly remember my 6th birthday when a friend tried to give me a Street Sharks toy? Are you serious…Street Sharks?! Get that shit outta’ here. No Street Sharks, no Cowboys of Moo Mesa…I wanted ALL Turtles ALL the time.
It’s pure, unadulterated ‘brand’ loyalty at it’s finest – and something that sadly, I grew out of. Eventually (and as much as I regret this now) we had a garage sale and I sold all my TMNT memorabilia – most likely to spend it on a Tomagatchi or some other crap.
Now, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a pretty loose example of a ‘brand’ – but stay with me here. Fast forward to the ‘now’. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about ‘brand loyalty’? If I asked you to list the brands you are 100% loyal to – does anything come to mind? For me…not so much.
I may be the minority, but I’m not the type of person who is 100% loyal to one particular brand. Subconsciously, we all make repeat buying decisions, ones that have been imprinted into our psyche since an early age, (TMNT is still awesome) but overall we’re easily swayed and persuaded to think and “act” a certain way when it comes to what we buy. We may have established a bond or connection with “Brand X” – but “Brand Y” can come in and, with VERY LITTLE EFFORT, really shake up that once long-time loyalty.
All we want, all anyone wants these days, is to feel valued and connected. While price is still a key determining factor of any buying decisions, it’s becoming more and more secondary to good old new fashioned customer service.
When we hear the term ‘customer service’ we think about a lot of different things – but at it’s core – it’s about taking care of the customer and making sure they feel valued – making sure that their doubts and fears are put to rest, that the buying decision comes at minimal risk, and ensuring that their needs are met.
But let’s go one (small) step beyond customer service. Customer Service +1 – That one thing that can really set you apart from the competition. When it comes down to it, we, as consumers, want a real connection (with a human being).
Even if you have a million customers, every single one of them (us) wants to feel special, like they’re you’re ONLY customer, that as an individual, they actually mean something in the big picture. It sounds like a daunting task, treating every individual as a critical cog in the system – but that’s exactly what they are.
Without your customers, you’re nothing – my how often businesses tend to forget that critical point.
That small “Plus 1″ thing can be just that – something small – even the tiniest act of going above and beyond can speak volumes. It can be sending a personalized email to thank someone for their patronage, or following up with someone on Twitter after they have voiced a complaint about in-store service and offering them a discount on their next visit (turning a negative into a positive is huge). Or, it can be taking things off-line…
I was shocked when I received a hand-written thank you note from Foiled Cupcakes a week after receiving a delivery of cupcakes, because it’s so rare in today’s world – yet it means so much – I’ll never forget it, and it impacted me so much, I’m here writing about it on my blog.
It doesn’t require a lot of effort to make a lasting impression – but it can forever impact your customer – it speaks to your brand image and overall desire to follow through, ensuring that every customer is pleased.
That’s how you create brand evangelists – people who will sing from the rooftops about how great you and your company is. If you’re not creating brand evangelists, you’re really missing out because, this just in, we trust our friends and colleagues a hell of a lot more than we trust your brand trying to push a sale.
That’s how you build a business, no, an empire. That’s how you develop passion and make people fall absolutely head over heels in love with your brand.
What are you doing to go above and beyond (plus 1)? Are you going the extra mile for your customers and clients? What incredible customer service experiences can you remember?