Here's how one recent experience cemented my loyalty to a chocolate company.
Almost every year, I mail a few holiday presents to my aunts. Unfortunately, I can't visit them too often because I'm super busy and they're far away, but I love them very much and think of them often. Since 2005, I send them my favorite chocolates from Richart Chocolate--they're artfully made, rich and yummy.
So on Cyber Monday, I get my reminder email from Richart and try to get an early start before the frenzied holiday season. I spend some time on their website picking the perfect gifts, and proceed to checkout. (Their system remembers my aunts' addresses for me, which I love.)
I'm nearly done when an error message pops up. Bummer!
I love these gifts so much that I don't want to go to another chocolate company, so I try again later at home. I select all my products again and go through the checkout process.
Now would be the time to leave and shop at another website, right? But their chocolate is pretty amazing and I just don't want to give up.
Have I been frustrated with my Apple computers over the last 25 years? You bet. But the products they develop are stellar and I've never used anything else. Have I had a bad encounter on Virgin Airlines? You bet. But the overall experience is amazing and I fly Virgin again and again.
When it comes right down to the success of a company, it's pretty much about the product, isn't it?
Richart makes a great product. But that damn error is still bugging me!
So I do what I hope more of our VerticalResponse customers would do when they encounter an issue with my company's online marketing services.
I email their support team.
What I get back in a pretty short timeframe (less than two hours) is an answer to my email from a real human who happens to be the person in charge of Richart's U.S. operations. (Richart is based in France.)
In his email, he apologizes profusely and explains the cause--a bug in their system. It will be fixed the next day but he offers to take my order over email or the phone anytime I want to. Not even necessary, because then he tells me that my entire order is free.
He thanks me for my loyalty and candor (without an email, it might have taken them a bit longer to discover this bug) and I write back thanking him for his generosity.
A perfect customer experience story for the holidays and Richart has a huge advocate in me and a customer for life. Moral? Build a great product and treat people really, really well, and you'll have a huge list of happy customers!
JANINE POPICK is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service email and event marketing, online surveys, social media, and direct mail solutions. The company was ranked No. 2,802 on the 2012 Inc. 5000. @janinepopick