It's Not Rocket Science: Give Your Customers A Choice And They Will Keep Coming Back
Welcome to the final chapter of this four part series on Customer Advocacy. Today we discuss the final piece of the jigsaw: Enabling Choice Transparency. In a nutshell, 'Choice Transparency' is the process of being so open-minded with how you treat your customers, that they feel that have unlimited choices and that you've gone out of your way to make this happen. By enabling choice transparency, you are showing your customer that you aren't afraid to step things up to adhere to their needs and make their experience as enjoyable as possible. As always, Ive put together case examples to make this as informative as possible.
It seems pretty self explanatory. Strategic partnerships that are mutually beenficial will not only allow you to give your customers more choice, but in the case I'm about to show you increase your customer base profusely.
I'd like to give the example of a little wine bar and a small thai restaurant in San Francisco. These two places are located directly across the road from one another and one day it struck both the owners that they could be getting a lot more business if they worked together. You see, the thai restaurant didn't sell alcohol on premise and the wine bar didn't sell food (other than little cheese bites). So with a quick handshake they decided to promote one another's business. Before you know it you've got wine in the thai place (Customers BYOB) and Thai food delivered across the road to hungry patrons at the wine bar.
It's a fantastic idea which in this case was based on locality, but if you find the right fit and there's demand for it, why on earth not make the most of it?!
Get Rid Of The Script And Corporate Rulebook
If a Customer has already had a trial period but isn't ready to commit to a yearly or monthly payment (even thought they can cancel anytime they want to), work with them. This recently happened to me with a company called OptiMind. These guys create little capsules that help you concentrate on whats important throughout the day. They contain natural ingredients as well as a little caffeine that helps you maintain productivity and stay focused. I wanted to try out their product and so signed up for the free trial. A couple of days later, 10 little capsules arrived. The only problem was that a couple of days later my trial capsules were depleted and I didn't feel like I'd tried the product out long enough to see if it had a productive affect. The solution? I simply got in touch with the Customer Care team and asked for a one-off batch (even thought the only way to sign up is on a monthly basis). Seconds later a one-off batch was on its way in the mail, because these guys get that customers have concerns and work with them instead of playing the corporate rule card.
The moral here is, you don't always have to play by the books. In the advocate world, each customer has a personal relationship with the company and small actions like this really enhance how tight that relationship is, especially when that customer will go off and tell their friends how pleased they were with how you treated them. Win/Win.
Go Above And Beyond To Show You Care
It's a pretty ballsy move, but one which is much appreciated by customers. You've probably heard the story of how Zappos came to receive its fame. When customers called up or spoke to an online rep requesting a product that Zappos didn't have, the company would happily redirect them to a competitor who had that item in stock. If the customer needed something pronto, they'd take them up on that incredibly generous gesture, but if there wasn't a time limit you'd usually find that the customer would wait until Zappos had it in stock again. What Zappos did was give their customer a choice which many would think absolutely insane. But the reality of the situation is, if you don't have the product, the customer will go elsewhere regardless. Help them out and not only do you look like a complete saint, but the customer feels a special bond and is incredible impressed with the company ethos. Once again, positive WOM, exposure and awareness are born.
Keep Em' Happy When They're Sad
Customers often expect a little too much these days, but in their minds thats perfectly justified, so instead of fighting it - you just have to go with it. If you've run out of a certain product, but there is no easy substitute available that you can direct your customer to - make it worth their while to stay and offer them a little something to help them make their choice.
The word 'busy' has found its way into my lifestyle on a somewhat frequent basis lately. It's for that reason that companies like Munchery are my foodie saviours. Munchery delivers gourmet, chef prepared meals that you can just whack in the oven for 10 minutes and boom, you're eating a wonderfully crafted culinary delight. I usually place an order for about 5 meals at a go but on one occasion I was a little too late ordering and so my favorite dish had already been snapped up due to high demand. Being the opportunist I am, I decided to get in touch with Munchery to ask if they had anymore hidden in the back that they'd be able to send my way, but unfortunately this was not so. Realizing I was a little disappointed they decided to try and cheer me up, throwing in a pack of homemade cookies as a little 'thank you for being awesome' gift if I did decide to complete my order without one of the dishes I was after. These guys knew that there was still a very very high probability i'd still place my order, but that didn't stop them from reaching out and doing something nice, because Munchery gets how to treat their customers and thats why they are growing at such a rapid rate. Nice work guys!
So lets sum things up here. There are many ways you can offer your customers choice and those will all depend on the industry you are in and the product or service you have to offer. Today we've touched upon a few examples which I hope will guide your thinking and allow you to discover what ideal choice transparency would be perfect for you and your company. It's certainly not an easy task and it does add a little extra effort on your part, but the fact of the matter is - happy customers not only return, but they return with other customers. If you manage to get this one right, you're in a seriously good position.
Thanks for reading and keep your eyes peeled for my free Customer Adovcacy eBook that will be out soon. To get notified of when it's available to download, just click here.