How to make your customers feel special

“We love feeling special. We hate feeling like a number”

Chris Brogan touched upon this issue in his brilliant Likeminds speech in February. Chris is correct. I don’t know a single person who enjoys feeling like a number. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like being made to feel special, even if they won’t admit to it!

For businesses then, if you want a long lasting relationship with a customer and you want them to be a true advocate for you in the future, there needs to be some thought and effort into what you can do to make them feel special.

Here are some ideas. Some are blindingly obvious, some you may not have thought of, some you may not agree with. Still, here they are:

Reward your customers. What for? For being customers. It doesn’t even have to be part of a reward scheme – why not just randomly surprise them?
Listen to every little detail they say. When you next speak on the phone, ask how their holiday went, ask if you thought their sports team were unlucky at the weekend, ask if they have anything planned for the weekend. Show an interest.
Cater to their every need. If you know they will require something different to what you can normally provide, make an effort for them. Show that you care.
Give them some publicity. If they are a great customer and there is an opportunity to shout about your relationship, then why not tell the world?
Let them shape your business. Rather than just leaving some feedback forms and hoping they get filled in, speak to your customers and ask them how their experience could be improved. Dig deep and ask for their advice. Let them know that your business is designed for them.
Make their experience enjoyable. Ok, even if your product is pretty boring and even if it can be matched in every department by a competitor, build something into the experience you offer which will cause an emotional reaction.
Engage when you are not trying to sell. Even when you know it is unlikely they will need your service or product again anytime soon, get in touch just to retain your relationship.
Call them by their name. I know this sounds blatantly obvious but every time you are in contact, whether in be face-to-face, phone or online, start off the conversation by recognising who they are.
Refer them onto whoever can help them. If you can’t solve their problem, pass them onto someone who can. Make solving their problem the number one aim.

These are a few of things I think should be considered if you want to make your customers feel special.

What do you think? Is there anything else that you do within your business to make your customers feel special?

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  • Jed Langdon

    Nice ideas Rob. I completely agree with you and you have touched upon one of the most important things in creating a superior customer experience in my opinion. When you can make a customer feel special, you will stick in their memory and they are very likely to keep coming back.

    One of my favourite tips that you have suggested is to refer them to whoever can help them. A lot of businesses might consider this lost business, but the most important thing is to help the customer find a solution. By helping them to find a solution, giving them sound advice and not taking advantage of them you create trust and this trust will bring them back the next time they have a problem you can solve.

    Arguably the most difficult time to make a customer feel special is when the purchasing experience is fairly short, such as in a high street shop. But there are things you can do, such as asking the customer if they have had a good day or commenting positively on the purchase they are making. These simple comments make us feel human, they make us feel like individuals and give confidence that we have made a good purchasing decision, and it feels good when we feel we have made the right purchase.

    Great stuff Rob!

  • Ash Mashhadi (@inspirationguy)

    Very interesting points here, Robert. This is a topic that's always at the top of my mind, but particularly so as I've just finished reading a great book on this topic by the great Jeffrey Gitomer “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless. Customer Loyalty is Priceless”. It's so worth reading that I'm going to risk looking spammy by adding an Amazon link

    If you get a chance to read it, or if anyone else has and wants to discuss it, I'd love a conversation about it.

  • Robert Pickstone

    I love it when a company refers me onto another that can be of more help. A few months ago an electrical shop told me that if I wanted to buy a certain product a little bit cheaper then it was best to go to a competitor down the road. It was very strange but also made me feel very special as they were being honest with me. I am more likely to go back to the same original shop again as I feel they have my solution as their number one aim.

    I agree with the difficulty of making a customer feel special in a short purchasing experience. In these situations the smallest details can make a difference such as asking a quick question or even…cracking a smile! When someone else smiles or laughs it can be infectious and when store staff feel special it can often make me feel special too.

  • Robert Pickstone

    Thanks Ash.

    If you do manage to get a conversation going around that book can you let me know? I might well have a look.

    Glad to hear that making a customer feel special is always at the top of your mind.

  • stanphelps

    Nice job Rob.

    I think the takeaway here is to make them feel special by exceeding expectations. Everything you've listed underscores a 'little extra' or what I call 'marketing lagniappe'. The unexpected extra that's thrown in 'for good measure'.

    I especially like your first suggestion of rewarding your customers. My opinion is that we need to build extra value when serving our patrons. I don't think it needs to random, in fact I think it should be built into every customer experience.

    'The average distance between the brain and the heart is 9 inches'

  • Robert Pickstone

    Hi Stan,

    It would be nice if many companies provided extra value into all of their customer experiences. There certainly aren't many companies I can think of that make a visable effort to do this. Do you think the element of surprise improves the level of positive emotion as it is totally unexpected? Adding that extra value in every experience might make it a common expectation and therefore much more difficult to exceed expectations. Or do you think that customers can be made to feel special every single time if enough effort is put in by the company in the first place?

    Thanks very much for the comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

  • stanphelps


    I'm trying to crowdsource a list of companies that make an effort to create a signature little extra. It's called the Purple Goldfish Project. We're currently at 358 examples with a lofty goal of 1,001 (…). Fisherman wanted.

    I'm a firm believer in the power of surprise and delight. Studies have shown that by disrupting 'schemas' (mental patterns) you can stimulate word of mouth.

    I don't believe that added value ever becomes commonplace. The only time that happens is if everyone offers the same thing. An example of this is the bakers dozen. If I expect to get 13 when I buy 12. There is nothing surprising or special about the 13th. Throwing in 14 for the price of 12 . . . now that would be a purple goldfish.


    'The average distance between the brain and your heart is 9 inches'

  • Robert Pickstone

    I have just checked out your Purple Goldfish Project. I love the idea. Jed Langdon mentioned it in a blog post last week so I had heard of it but not visited the website.

    I will certainly add to it if I can!

  • stanphelps

    Thanks Robert. They are tough to catch.

  • annholman

    Great post and good reminders. I think though we can go further than this. By building a community (I'm gonna be writing a lot about this in the next year) around our brand we can influence and connect more.

    The future is all about relationships. We need to be intimate not intrusive with our customers. By going that next step we turn a transaction into something far more powerful, sustainable and rewarding for everyone!

  • Robert Pickstone

    Thanks Ann.

    I look forward to reading your work around building communities

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