Absolutely, unequivocally, YES!
Treating your customers like the ground they walk on is sacred, is unnecessary and for the most part counter productive, but treating them like they are more than a bottom line is key in achieving the relationship between you and the consumers of your product.
There are a multitude of publications describing how businesses can build and maintain relationships and why this is key to a successful product or service business. In fact, textbooks have been compiled and university subjects created with these principles at the very core. Unfortunately for universities, academics and marketers alike, often these publications are out of date before someone hits the print button. Why? Consumer attitudes change daily.
We saw it with Uber recently, Uber lost a lot of customers and drivers, those consumers electing to change providers to Lyft who provide a similar service, but align themselves with their consumer’s views. There is no one winning formula for every industry, to capture all of the consumer spending. Markets are often flooded with competitors selling a similar product or service, for a similar cost, with similar ease of transaction so the only defining feature remaining is the company attitude towards current issues and events or how they showcase themselves across social media. Brand loyalty is also a factor, however, one wrong move and consumer loyalty could fly out the window.
Personally, I used to only ever order Black and White cabs if I needed a lift somewhere. Poor experiences with other cab companies and their drivers had left me disappointed in their service. Then along came Uber and I haven’t been in a cab since. I don’t agree with their ability to track my location after the trip is finished, however I understand why they do it. I just turn off the location permissions on my phone. This and surge pricing are about the only things I disagree with, but it’s not enough to force me to switch back to cabs.
So how do companies and small businesses build and maintain very fragile relationships? Have your customer service team love what they do.
Gunsmith Clothing – www.gunsmithclothing.com
I stumbled across Rob Tramonte’s Instagram profile, I don’t remember whether someone had tagged me in a picture or it came up in my “posts you may like”, but he resonated with me. He struck me as one of the most down to earth and approachable men. When I delved deeper into his brand, I found he had surrounded himself with people who viewed the world the way he did. His business partner and wife Britt is the same. His other business party James Mooney actively builds his profile by showing users how he trains, how he trains his clients, celebrates their success and frequently calls out his location at events so people will come and say hi. All three of the Gunsmith Team seem like they are the type of people who are happy to have a chat and shoot the breeze without selling you a thing. Of course, their feeds are littered with posts about new releases of their clothing line but mostly they are about motivating their followers to be better and strive to achieve more. The best part is, I can send Rob or James or Britt a message and actually get a response. I was chatting to Rob just last week. I had been on their site, looking at their products and saw a design I thought they had in ladies was missing. I had a response in minutes from Rob, and we chatted away over the course of an hour. He knew I was on the site, and I mentioned I had forgotten what size I ordered last time, without skipping a beat, he was asking what my surname was so he could look me up in their database. Some may view that as pushy, I see it as being helpful. When my first order from Gunsmith arrived, enclosed was a hand written note from James, welcoming me to the family. Not every company does this, most have a printed card offering 10% off the next purchase. To receive a hand written note is to personalise the order and give it something special.
An hour or later, I had ordered two new singlets to add to my collection and without me saying anything, I got a further message thanking me and advising the order would be shipped the next day. Rob runs a successful clothing brand and still has time to talk to people placing a small order. His last message to me in this exchange really hit home. I asked him how he gets it all done? His response: “my passion for it is what makes me do it, simple as that”. It’s that statement and that statement alone that sparked this article.
Rob and his team haven’t outsourced their customer relations, they do it themselves and this is a key point of difference. They love what they do and they can’t imagine leaving it to someone else. Am I suggesting CEOs of multimillion dollar corporations get down on the floor and answer the phones of a busy contact centre? Absolutely! Why not? Not only are you showing just how passionate you are about the job you love, but you’re showing your employees and customers that you are not too high up the chain to have a personal relationship with your customers.
Whilst, Gunsmith aren’t the first company I have come across that do this, they were the latest.
One could almost assume that this trend is occurring across the market and thanks to Social Media is taking the marketing world by storm.
Rob and the team at Gunsmith were not the first to treat me like family…
Shredlife Clothing – www.shredlifeclothingco.com
Liam and Kurt own Shredlife Clothing and I first came across them after hearing one of the songs from a band Liam played in, Take Us To Vegas (TUTV). I liked the band’s Facebook page and shortly after, Liam sent me a Facebook friend request. This is a risky practice. I’m fiercely protective of my Facebook privacy and don’t add people I don’t know. I took a shot and added him, and I am so glad I did. Not only have I gotten to see his band play with exclusive tickets, I’ve gotten to see previews of the new releases for Shredlife and preorder before the masses crashed the website. Both Liam and Kurt have massive followings and this can be attributed to both their personalities and the way they run their business.
From one simple page like on Facebook, I have gained a friend, half a wardrobe, unforgettable experiences and an opportunity to learn more about marketing than I ever could from a textbook. All because Liam and Kurt put their heart and soul into their business and keeping their customers as friends as well.
Finally, my last case study is actual family…
Damn the Man – www.damntheman.com.au
Damn the Man is a music management business, based in Melbourne and run by my cousin. Officially commissioned last year, Damn the Man is a reflection of my cousins lifelong work in the film and music scene. One of the acts she manages, Ablaze, have welcomed me into the fold as an additional consultant and I get to talk to the members of a band like we are old mates. Being an interstate band, I don’t get to see them, but I do get to share their music and when they comment and call me a legend, their appreciation is genuine.
Genuine support of a product or service, breeds the expectation that genuine appreciation is returned and I’ve seen this with all three of these case studies. So I reward them with my customer loyalty. I’m one of the first to know when Ablaze are planning a gig, I get to see Shredlife’s range before others and I can talk to the owner of a clothing label about his passion.
If you and your business or brand, can inspire a customer’s loyalty by being genuine with them and letting them in, so that they feel like they are part of your business’s success, you will have a customer for life.
NB: this article was written without the knowledge or request for inclusion by any of the named businesses. This article is not a sales pitch, but rather an opinion article based on the author’s experiences.