Recently, I tweeted a silly little something about Saks Fifth Avenue. My tweet was in response to an email I had received from the high-end fashion retailer. An email that indicated that I was being offered something exclusively. Just For You, the opening line read. Being a bit of a smart ass, and clearly having too much time on my hands, I tweeted Saks to let them know that I knew the offer wasn’t really just for me. I didn’t want them to think for one minute I had been flattered that easily, or worse yet, fooled. I am far too sophisticated for that to happen. Not like this is my first time around the direct marketing block… Well, guess what? The brilliant person who was handling the Saks Twitter account responded immediately. Saks Tweeted: “Saks loves Jen_eration_x” (my Twitter handle) and added: “that WAS just for you.” And then they followed me. *swoon* Did I mention how great Saks Fifth Avenue is?! I used the word brilliant, right? Okay, I’ll admit it, I am easy. Doesn’t take much to get me on your side.
It’s true, I am a cheerleader by nature. If I like you, or like what you do, I will spread the word. Truly, I will. If you treat me right, as Pat Benatar would say, I am telling everyone I know. Conversely, If you mistreat me, take my business for granted, or provide poor customer service, I will gladly share that information too. I know I am not alone in this. Twitter, and Yelp, are but two examples of online venues where people share positive, and not so positive, reviews of individuals and businesses.
Given the fragile nature of the economy, I would think that companies would understand that every–and I mean every–interaction with a potential, or current, customer counts. Some seem to get that, others, not.
I want to cheer for you, so I’ve put together a few tips to help make that possible:
~Respond to all customer inquiries.
If I send you an email, answer it. If I call you, call me back. Even if you wind up saying the same thing to me that you say to everyone else. Even if you are afraid I might not like your response. Don’t underestimate the power of acknowledgement. It is bad form to ignore someone who has taken the time to contact you.
Tweets and Facebook page posts work the same way. If you are on Twitter, or Facebook, and your intention is to build a brand, you really need to make sure you respond to those who are trying interact with you–even if they don’t have thousands of followers.
~Do the little things well. The easy things. If you can’t do that, you probably aren’t going to be adept at handling the bigger stuff (i.e. real problems). Want to win my loyalty? Treat me well in good times, and bad.
Last week a friend and I were having lunch at a local restaurant. This restaurant is one I love. It is one of the few places that I make sure to check-in at, on Foursquare—just to give them a cyber shout-out. I like the food, and I have had very positive interactions with the brand on Twitter (see above tip). Well, on this particular day, I made a mistake when I ordered. I don’t like olives, so I usually ask to have them omitted. This time I forgot. When my lunch arrived, I saw the olives, and apologized to the waiter (who was new) for my mistake. I then politely asked if he could have my meal fixed. This should have been a no-brainer. Take the wrap back to the kitchen and have the cook get rid of the olives. The waiter didn’t see things the same way. He looked at me, and said, “I’ll have to check with the manager to see if we can do that without charging you.” HUH?! Then he disappeared for several minutes. Long enough that I had begun removing the olives myself. When he did finally return, he agreed to have the dish remade. By that point some damage had already been done. What a waste of time and goodwill! And to think, he could have been a hero right away. First thing you should tell a new hire? To always err on the side of making the customer happy–especially when it is easy to do so.
~Know your customer–literally.
I like to shop locally. I don’t want to live in a homogeneous world. A place where Williams-Sonoma (as wonderful as they are) own everything. Sometimes that means I have to pay a bit more for a product or service, I get that; overhead costs are greater for small, locally owned businesses. In exchange, I expect you to know my name. Or, if you can’t remember my name, you need to do something to make it clear that you at least recognize me. That should be rule number one for all businesses, but especially for independent retailers.
Those are my tips, what are yours? And, is there a business (local, or national) that treats you particularly well? Here’s your opportunity to grab the megaphone.