In the era of social media, word of mouth is becoming increasingly important to businesses’ reputations and to the ability to develop brand loyalty. A hashtag attached to a string of 140 characters can refer or turn away any number of customers, making one frequently forgotten concept even more important:
Your mother told you this when you wouldn’t share your toys with the kids next door; be nice! With so many companies offering the same products and services, if you already have a beautiful logo design and branding and a comprehensive and well-rounded website there is little that distinguishes one from another, and very little that protects a brand from a consumer’s arbitrary decisions.
One of the last remaining distinctions between businesses is their customer service. A business which treats its customers not just as potential for profit, but also as individuals with specific needs and interests is a business that develops brand loyalty.
Hug Your People
In his book Hug Your People, clothing giant Jack Mitchell writes about the value of niceness, touting the use of a metaphorical “hug” in establishing and maintaining relationships. This “hug” is enveloping your customers and associates and making them feel “invested and cared for.” This niceness will give your company a stellar reputation, attracting new customers, and keeping regulars happy. Overall, this strategy should help develop brand loyalty.
However, this is not to say that you should dog your customer with your “niceness.” Rather, you should let it be an inherent characteristic of your business. The Harvard Business Review writes about how a customer can become overwhelmed by constant contact with a business via incessant outbound marketing. According to the Review, a customer prefers if the interactions between business and customer existed only when needed, at their initiation. This suggests that the value of each interaction with a customer should not be underestimated, and should be treated with genuine care and helpfulness.
Many times it’s the simple things that matter:
- Sincerely answer your customer’s questions or point them in the right direction.
- Speak to customers in a mature, professional manner. This includes forms of communication like email. Address them in the beginning of your email letter and provide your email signature with contact information.
- Put yourself in the customer’s position. Follow the “Golden Rule”. (i.e. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”)
- Under promise and over deliver.
- Stay accountable with your clients, whether on the phone, in email communications, through social media, or in person.
- Don’t get defensive and don’t blame the customer.
- Smile. It goes a long way.
Hopefully, this is already a familiar theme for your interactions.
Cimetta Design with a nice reminder.