Randi Milner used Rent the Runway, a service where one can rent high-priced fashion, for an event with her fiancé. But she returned the dress a few days early, stating the breakup with her fiancé as the reason for her return. Not only did the company refund Randi’s money, but a few weeks later, on Valentine’s Day, she received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the team at Rent the Runway, with a note that read “Happy It’s His Loss Day!”
This is just one of the amazing stories of businesses, both large and small, going an extra mile to brighten the day of their customers described in Peter Shankman’s book “Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans.”
Randi’s story, however, was my favorite in the book, mostly because this was a gesture that was both thoughtful, uplifting, and unexpected. And yes, it did make me chuckle. Immediately after reading the story I went online and spent 10 minutes perusing Rent the Runway website. In the next several days I told the story to several of my friends, asking them if they were using the service. And I will probably use it as an example of customer care excellence in my keynote speeches (with attribution, of course).
Why am I making a point to say this? To show you that one simple act of thoughtfulness and kindness can serve as a match to sparking the fire of advocacy and brand admiration. Stories such as Randi’s travel fast because they tug at our heartstrings and make us admire the brand that took that extra effort to make others feel special. And even though this didn’t happen to me, this story made me look at a brand in a whole new light, this story made me want to become their customer.
In his book Peter talks about the fact that advocacy breeds advocacy. And even though I personally wouldn’t compare brand’s most avid advocates to zombies, the underlying logic is sound. “You get the customers you want by being beyond awesome to the customers you have,” says Shankman.
Delighting customers is everyone’s job! No matter what your role, team, or consumer touchpoint, each employee has the power to build and nurture brand love. If you are not sure where to start, start by doing these three simple things:
Listen, then act
In the social age, there are a ton of ways to listen to people without asking for direct feedback. People share their opinions on social networks, in forums, through reviews, etc. You can address people’s questions and concerns in real-time, reach out to them at the time when they need help or before they get frustrated. That’s the basics of great customer service.
And sometimes it pays to ask customers what you can do to make their experience better. In my earlier post “Good to Great: Creating a Tropical Storm of Customer Satisfaction” I shared a personal story about Villa del Palmar resort in Loreto, Mexico, and how by just having a quick conversation with my family and asking one simple question they turned our experience from satisfactory to unforgettable.
Listening is the first step. Making sure that you have people, processes, and technology in place to put your customer first is critical. But none of it matters if you don’t activate it the right way, if you don’t act on feedback or show your customer that your company cares… every single day.
Perform little acts of kindness
The best acts of kindness are the ones that are not expected from you.
I am honored to work at the technology company where every employee cares deeply about the customers. Sprinklrites (Sprinklr employees) are known for their passion and they show it every day.
One recent example of the team’s commitment to client excellence happened when one of our customers was unable to login to his account… on his birthday. The team wanted his birthday to be a joyous day (not a frustrating one), so they decided to surprise him and personally delivered the box of assorted cupcakes to his office. When they showed up to wish him happy birthday, they found out he was out of the office traveling. Not to be discouraged, the team worked with the hotel where the client was staying to surprise him with another birthday treat. They included a note that read: “… We tried to catch you at the office today, but heard you were out. We hope this special surprise makes your day a little sweeter. Your friends at Sprinklr.” The customer was delighted. He tweeted the pictures and shared his gratitude for making his day.
Showing others that you care and making their day just a bit brighter, even through little things, can go a long way in building long-term relationships and brand love.
Master the art of gratitude
Sometimes just saying “thank you” goes a long way. When a friend does something nice for us, we say thank you. So why is it that we oftentimes forget to show our gratitude to people who help make our business successful – our clients? Brands need to become more human. And nothing is more human than sharing a sincere “thank you” at every interaction.
To sum it up, there is nothing more powerful than enabling remarkable experiences for others, at every interaction. And don’t just do it for your customers, do it for your employees, your partners, your vendors, your investors, and regular people who connect with you outside of addressing an issue or stating a complaint. Because every person who touches your brand in any way matters just as much as your most loyal customer. People will care about you if you care about them.
If you are looking for more inspiration, you are sure to find some in Peter Shankman’s book “Zombie Loyalists.” For additional advice on steps for building a successful social customer care program, take a look at this e-book.
Originally appeared on Forbes