When Little Things Aren't So Little

Putting attention on the customer is often the key to repeat and successful business. And now more than ever, businesses are paying attention to their customers, either proactively or reactively, due to today’s social media and instant reviews. Yet, most businesses miss the critical factor, that when customer service is regulated to a strategy, it becomes thin, wooden, and cliché .

Can you automate care?

When you get the auto-responder from your web hosting company of how much your service is appreciated, the bank teller pretending to be interested when asking how your day is going, or the on-hold message with your utility company telling you they wouldn’t be here without you, it takes work to not let your eye-balls fall out of their sockets from feigned care.   

That’s why I was blown away recently when I was speaking with the VP of Marketing of a global company, when he told me a recent story of how his company took a miscommunication snafu and alchemized it into customer gold.

Taking it personally

An employee had accidently pushed ‘send’ on a message letting the company’s database in on an announcement that was intended for their partners. To try to minimize the confusion,  she sent a follow-up message to apologize, but also to explain a bit and and let them know that something exciting was coming soon.

They then got a response from an irritable subscriber who didn’t trust the integrity of what just happened, and assumed it was a marketing scheme. He’d seen these ‘accidental releases and feigned apologies’ before, and let the company know it, and unsubscribed himself from their list.

Instead of getting defensive or ignore this subscriber, the VP and employee decided to take this opportunity to let this person know that he’d been heard and clear the air.

The Extra Mile, Literally

They did some research on this subscriber and found out that he does body-work on high-end sports cars. So they found a coffee table book on McLarens and ordered it for him. The employee who had made the mistake added a personal note to go along with it, letting him know that it was not a marketing ploy, that she was the one who lost sleep over it. They sent this book overseas to the unsuspecting subscriber, who by now had come close to dismissing the company.

He was truly speechless. He sent an email right away with a mix of embarrassment and gratitude, that a real person in a real company took the time to research the perfect gift, a hand-written note, demonstrating real care that is undeniable, and coming from a genuine motive of transparency rather than strategy or guilt.

I know they didn’t do it for this result, but the subscriber wrote back to let them know he’s been telling all of his friends and colleagues about what just happened. And right there, he went from disgruntled subscriber to a brand ambassador, all because this company was willing to lean into their mistake, take the extra mile to connect with one person, and treat him like he is their most important customer, because that’s what they stand for. And anything that comes from that is icing on the cake.

And right there I saw it in a new way: that one customer, one client, can change everything as they ripple out to their own communities when they’ve been heard or related with in a real way.

What are you doing to reach-out to your customers and clients to let them know that they’ve been heard? How can someone feel like they are your only customer while knowing all along that they aren’t?