The way customers are treated isn’t always the way you’d wish is was.
Sometimes it’s the wrong person in the wrong place. Sometimes it is strict rules about what you can or are allowed to do as employee. And sometimes it’s just a crass focus on costs. The reasons can be many, but the results are missed golden opportunities to create ambassadors for the brand. Possibilities to get customers to talk and recommend the products or services.
All customer contacts a business have are gifts. They are chances to go the extra mile, to really excel in the small details that are exactly what makes people want to talk (what Seth Godin calls “remarkable”), but that doesn’t cost that much.
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption of our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider to our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do so.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Yes, that Gandhi!
When a business manages to create word of mouth it enters a great positive loop, where happy customers talk about the offer, new customers arrive, and these start talking too.
With the development of new communications channels on the Internet, like email, communities, consumer forums, blogs etc, the effect of word of mouth is multiplied. Customers can spread the word much further, without limitations in time and space. So, now there is an even greater reason to work hard to get customers to talk about the company.
But, as another result of this development, it is now also extremely easy to reach out to non-customers and create the same kind of positive feeling in them as in the ones who are already customers. A business can convey an image of being personal, interested in dialogue and wanting to take care of its customers. An image of a business that is interested in the customer, and not just the bottom line.
So, every time a company interacts with a customer it is a golden opportunity to create something worth talking about. And when someone writes or talks about a company online it is an opportunity to listen, to learn as a company, to engage in conversation.
It is now possible to create word of mouth from people who aren’t even customers (yet). As a bonus, present customers are reinforced in their beliefs that the company cares and wants their best.
And, the best part of all is that it isn’t at all hard to find these opportunities online and take advantage of the incredible leverage that the Internet can give. Offline it is practically impossible to get that leverage on conversations going on… … and it doesn’t scale. Online, it is extremely easy… … and it scales!
So far, not many companies are really taking advantage of this, which makes it even more advantageous for the ones that do!