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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Why I think #likeminds 2010 truly delivered

Last year I attended the inaugural Likeminds conference. I was hugely impressed with much of what I saw. There were some great speakers, great discussions and great content on show.

This year the Likeminds 2010 conference had all of the above. What took it that step further though was the people-to-people experience that guests (not customers) were part of.

Debate is bound to follow about the quality of the presentations and discussions. There will be different views on the value of what was on show and the messages that were being pushed. Saying that, the audience were invited to offer their opinions during panel discussions and not all panel members agreed with each other anyway. Like any conference, it is up to the individual to absorb everything and then make their own mind up. What Likeminds 2010 did was provide world class thought-leaders and practitioners (Chris Brogan, Olivier Blanchard, John Bell, Jonathan Akwue and Joanne Jacobs) that will hopefully inspire many others to take part in healthy, social media/online communications debates.

What I believe can’t really be debated is whether or not Likeminds 2010 delivered on what I believed to be the underlying theme of the whole experience: connecting people. They delivered big time. I don’t think I have ever attended a conference or event where talking to people has been made so easy. It might sound silly to say but it is true.

There were two stand out factors that made it easy for me to connect. Firstly, the name badges with the Twitter avatars on allowed me to spot people I have spoken to online but have never met in person. Secondly, booking lunches with speakers/panellists/guests who shared similar interests allowed me to speak to others with whom I knew I shared common ground. Along with the great hashtag feed and the willingness of most guests to mingle, an environment was created for people to connect to other people.

As Scott has said on many occasions, being part of a community is not enough. Good connections need to be made so that actions can actually follow.

I made many new connections at Likeminds 2010 and I am positive these will lead to many actions. Sure, I will enjoy debating the details of the event with many others over the coming weeks (putting on the ‘social media geek hat’ can be quite fun), but the overwhelming emotion I have right now is that Likeminds connected me to many great people and many positive outcomes are on the cards.

For this I would like to thank everyone who took part.

Do you agree? Did you find it easy to connect?

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@chrisbrogan and @robertpickstone

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Meeting a new client? Stalk them.

Ok, don’t physically stalk them. That would be slightly unethical. What is not unethical though is searching online for information about a new client which they have chosen to make public. Some think this is a form of online stalking – it is not – it is using your initiative.

The information you find can help you spot a common interest, both personally and professionally. Using this information correctly, your conversation can be enhanced, opportunities can be spotted and deals can be clinched. Background information can also help you to build a foundation to a good working relationship.

What tools are available though and what can we find out? You may want to think about the following:

  • LinkedIn – We can find out what their professional background is, what qualifications they own, who recommends them, what their skills set is and who their business contacts are.
  • Twitter – We can find out what they are saying “real-time”, what issues they are currently interested in and who they are sharing their conversations with.
  • Facebook – We can find out a combination of the information available from LinkedIn and Twitter. Also, interests and hobbies tend to be more prominent on Facebook.
  • Blogs – We can find out what area they have a real passion for, what they are willing to spend extra hours writing and talking about, and what message they want to spread.
  • Search Engine Results – We can find out comments that may have been made on forums and blogs, as well as when they have appeared in press releases and on company websites.

Like I said, this is just a general breakdown. Do you share public information in a different way? Would you use these tools to research a client before meeting with them?

I would be interested to hear your views and experiences.

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Are you an intelligent social media addict?

Are you one of these people who spends lots of time on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Do you find it hard to go more than a few hours without checking who has been in touch? Do you often get told that you spend too much time online? Being a social media addict is actually ok as long as you are feed your addiction intelligently.

Some people chose to communicate by spending hours on the phone each evening. Some people are unable to drag themselves away from their emails. Some people send thousand of texts each month. Some people talk so much they give themselves, and everyone around them, headaches. They are all communicating in the way they choose. Social media is just another form of communication that you have chosen.

As long as you don’t allow it to detract from the value of other forms of communication then it shouldn’t be a problem. If you find yourself taking three days to reply to an email from a work colleague or a text from your Mum then it may be time to take a step back and think about what you are doing. If relationships are being weakened rather than strengthened then then same applies. More often than not though a balanced approach works best and being able to communicate effectively in lots of different ways is surely a good thing.

The real addiction that most of us have is wanting to talk to people. That’s not a bad thing. It’s better than being hooked on watching Star Trek re-runs alone most evenings.

What do you think? Are you an intelligent addict?

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(If you’re using Dating Websites to fulfil your social needs, you may want to check out Top Dating Sites, which has been created by a friend to provide quality reviews, and make your choice about where to spend your time much, much easier )

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