I was recently reminded of a story from a few years back about a lady who had called into Zappos, the online shoe retailer, to try and return a pair of shoes that her husband had recently purchased. As the lady explained to the Zappos employee, her husband had suddenly passed away and she no longer had a use for the purchase.
Recognizing the situation for what it was, the Zappos employee accepted the return without another question asked.
As you'll likely agree, up to this point, Zappos did everything right. Hassling with a return was the last thing this poor widow needed to deal with. And, if the story ended there, you could chalk it up to customer service done right by Zappos.
But, that's not where it ended, and it's not the reason I'm sharing this with you today.
After the conversation ended, the Zappos employee had decided to do a bit of research to find the date and location of the husband's funeral. She then made the decision to purchase a bouquet of flowers to be sent and displayed at the funeral with a note expressing her condolences on behalf of everyone at Zappos.
That is what's considered customer service done superbly.
Not only did Zappos win over the heart of everyone at that funeral, they also created a story that has been spread many times over.
I've written a lot previously about utilizing NPS to identify and convert your detractors into promoters using a tool such as Promoter.io, however nearly every company has a portion of promoters to begin with (hopefully).
How did they become promoters?
The easiest and most common way is that they are a fan of your product or service. You've built a strong offering that meets or exceeds the needs of your customers. It's as simple as that.
The other way is through exceptional customer service. Your customers feel like a priority, because you treat them that way.
Aside from being attentive and addressing their needs, there are many other ways to surprise your customers and make them into promoters.
Here are 30 things you could do today:
Send a random hand-written thank you note
Personally writing and sending a card shows that you actually thought about them as more than a variable that gets merged into a document. Hand writing anything takes time, which is a precious commodity that your customers can appreciate.
Tip: If you don't have the bandwidth to write them yourself, there is now a company that will do it for you.
Send a short, personalized email to ask if there is anything you can do
If you want to avoid the cost of cards and postage, a short and personalized email can do the trick. Just be sure to do it at an unexpected point in time (i.e. not immediately after signing up or making a purchase) and don't sell anything.
Send a company t-shirt or sticker
Everyone loves swag (don't look in my closet...I'm ashamed). It feels like Christmas when the package arrives. A good quality t-shirt or laptop sticker will never go unappreciated. Especially when it arrives without warning.
Call them on the phone to just check in. No selling.
Phone calls are becoming a lost art. The good news is, most people aren't getting inundated with phone calls any longer. If you can get them on the phone, a brief call can often turn into a much deeper conversation.
Mention them by name in a blog post
Find any opportunity to mention your customers within your blog posts. Use a story they shared, or something their company does to illustrate a point.
Compliment something they have done
For B2B companies, one of the easiest things you can do is sign up for your customers newsletters. This will help you stay on top of their latest news. When they announce something exciting, it's your chance to reach out and congratulate them.
That's a #protip right there.
If you're local, stop by for a visit
For B2B companies, set up a time with your customer to drop by. Check out their office and see how they operate. For B2C companies, you can create local meetups. Treat them to drinks and appetizers. Don't forget to bring swag.
At Promoter.io, we're lucky to have several local customers and we try to see them as often as possible. This is particularly impactful when you're a web or technology company were so many times you go faceless.
Your company does have a name (and many faces), despite what the Faceless Men and the Many-Faced God may think. /rimshot
Don't watch Game of Thrones? How many of your customers do? :)
Send a $5 coffee gift card
This is one of those small tokens of appreciation that is nearly loved by everyone. It's inexpensive and convenient.
Comment on one of their non-work social posts
Using a simple extension, such as Rapportive, you can get access to your customers social profiles via their email. Get into the habit of following them on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. so you can engage with them outside of work. Simply commenting on a post shows you're paying attention.
Refer a customer their way
Become a promoter for them and they'll likely return the favor. Keep your customers product or service in mind while having discussions with others. When the opportunity presents itself, make the introduction.
Write a social endorsement of their company
If you use your customer's product or service personally, make an effort to be a champion for them online. Tag them in your post when you sing their praises.
Make a donation in their name
If your company is already making charitable donations every year, why not do it on behalf of your customers. Better yet, break it into smaller donations and let your customers choose the cause.
Push small product improvements live EVERY week, let them know
Everyone loves getting something more than they paid for. Making continual improvements to your product, regardless of how small, gives your clients a sense that the value is increasing. If you do it weekly, they will constantly feel like their overall experience is improving.
Offer up a free month of service or single product at random
Pick a time of the year when expenses for people and companies are high, such as the end of the year or around the Holidays. You don't need to do it for everyone, start small with just a few customers and see the impact.
Offer your personal cell number to make yourself available
Most people will never call, but the point of making yourself accessible at this level is to show your customer how valuable they are.
Host a virtual happy hour
If you have customers spread out throughout the world, host a happy hour online. Make it into a Google Hangout, or even a Facebook Live event. You could even send everyone a bottle of beer or wine in advance for the event.
Follow up on an old discussion, see if their needs are addressed
If you keep records of past conversations, take time to go through them every now and again. You'll likely find items you could follow up on, which is bound to impress your customers.
Recommend they check out a new product
Everyone loves a good recommendation. If you happen to come across something you think would be a fit for a customer, don't be shy in sharing it. Even better if what you're recommending also happens to be a customer.
Make a complimentary introduction at random
Key introductions can go a long way in positioning yourself as an asset to your client. Keep this constantly in mind as you're having discussions with others. If you think there may be a synergy, don't be shy in making the connection.
Share their blog posts
If you're already subscribed to your customers newsletter, you'll likely be notified when they have a new blog post. Make an effort to either comment and/or share their post.
Congratulate any of their accolades (press, new launch, etc.)
There are a variety of ways that you can be alerted when something happens online. Set up alerts for your customers in the news. When one comes in, send them a quick message to congratulate them.
Monitor their social feed for opportunities to jump in
Similar to alerts, you can also set up channels to stay on top of their social feeds. Spend a couple of minutes each day looking for opportunities to comment, share or engage with their posts.
Feature them in an ad
If you're already running ads online, create a few additional variations that feature your customers, even if it's just their image. They'll feel valued, and your ad is likely to perform better.
Create a case study featuring your customer
Whether you post the case study online or not, the interview process gives you a good opportunity to have a meaningful discussion with your customer.
Surprise them with an ad online, using their name
At one point or another, we all Google our own name to see what shows up. Use this opportunity to create an ad thanking them for their continued business. Since it's likely not a high ranking keyword, you can do this every inexpensively.
Respond quickly to their needs, especially at odd times
This is customer service 101, but often not executed properly. Your hours of operation may not be the hours your customer operates within. They're likely not expecting a response at midnight or mid-Sunday afternoon, so this is your chance to surprise them.
Take a personal interest in their interests
If you get into personal discussions with your customers, be sure to take note of interests they mention. If they mention they love baseball, find a baseball Meme or Gif you can send them.
Send them a gift based on a conversation
You can also take it one step further and actually buy them a gift that's related to their interest, maybe a hat from their favorite team.
Send them $5 and ask that they use it for a random act of kindness
Most people enjoy helping others in need. Rather than buy a $5 coffee gift card, send them a $5 bill in the mail with a note suggesting they use it to make someone's day.
Make and send them a poster of something they've said as a quote
If you happen to catch your customer saying something inspirational, make it into a poster and send it to them. It will likely blow them away.
These are just a handful of options to get you started, there are many more creative things you could do to win over the heart of your customers. The overall theme is putting your customer first and surprising them with the unexpected -- it takes additional time and effort but it will pay dividends forever.
If you have any additional ideas to share, please do so in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you.