Friday, September 28, 2012

Are You Making War on the Competition or Making Love to the Customer?

Anyone can make customers happy.

But if you really want to be a hero, if you want to wow people’s pants off and get their mouths moving about your brand, you need a way to make the people who aren’t your customers wish they were.

Here’s one that pays.

Every day, people complain. Publicly. They tweet, blog, review or digitally kvetch about crappy service, disrespectful treatment, failed technology, lack of support, poor product quality, underwhelming shopping experiences and outrageous prices.

And nobody listens to them. Their complaints disappear into the digital ether.

This is the best thing that ever happened to you. Especially if these people are complaining about one of your competitors.

First, actively seek out negativity. In less than ten seconds, you can have your finger on the pulse of millions of frustrated customers. Social media isn’t a sales tool, it’s a hearing aid. And most search functions will tell you everything you need to know.

Second, do some light stalking. Get to know these people. Find out who they are, what they love and where they hang. Follow them. Search for kernels that give insight into their whole world.

Third, respond to people’s emotions. Complainers just want to feel validated. Before launching into a solution, honor their humanity. Be fundamentally affirmative. Show some lighthearted personality to help the cause.

Fourth, apologize on behalf of your competitor. Tell customers they deserve better. Tell them that’s no way to be treated. And tell them they’re not in competition for the right to be treated decently.

Fifth, make it tangible. Take a picture. Send a card. Publish a video. Mail a delight item. Nothing fancy, nothing contrived. Just something that takes effort and care. Something completely unexpected that they’ll never forget.

The point is, you can still make things right, even though you weren’t the one who made it wrong.

You’re not making war with the competitor, you’re making love to the customer.