Loyal customers are like the gift that keeps on giving in your business. They buy more, they tell others about you, and they cost less to service and delight.

One of the best ways to create loyal customers is to move beyond transactional relationships, to create deeper, more emotional connections with them. Your team is your secret weapon in helping you achieve this.

But many businesses shy away from using the people who run their business every day in favor of actors, models, and stock photography that fail to connect.

Or they hamstring the people who interact with their customers on a consistent basis, so they have no authority to adequately address problems. No bueno.

It's time to unleash the power of your team so you can do a better job of wooing your customers. Here are 3 ways to leverage your people as a means to help connect your customers to your business at a deeper level.

1. Give a peek behind the curtain

What better way to tell the story of your business, than by using the people who are there working in the trenches each day beside you to help advance your mission?

They can effectively convey the passion and the great lengths your business goes to serve your customers better than any actor or model could.

So let your customers see the real people who are making magic happen behind the scenes. Bring them to the forefront by showcasing who they are, what they do. Use them to provide a glimpse into what your corporate culture is really like.

Shoe and apparel manufacturer Toms did this in their company culture video that showed team members talking about how they interact with customers, and compete on a friendly level with company-sponsored events.

And Starbucks showcases their employees in videos that help explain what it's like to work at the company.

2. Leverage your team's expertise to educate your customers

You have a team of experts. That's why you hired them. And that team is able to help you communicate, educate, and entertain your customers.

You can have them host podcasts, write blogs, conduct training webinars, or appear in videos on your YouTube channel or website.

Elevate your staff and let them show off their talents and gifts for the purpose of adding value to your customers.

The more your customers view your team members as friends or relatable people that they'd like to go and have a beer with, the easier it is for them to connect with your business on a deeper level.

Wistia uses their employees to make educational videos that help their customers make better video.

And in the early days of Mint.com, they used their company leadership to write blog posts, and share details about how they manage their finances.

3. Give them leeway to delight customers as they see fit

Creating a remarkable customer experience and earning their loyalty isn't something that just happens on its own. You have to plan for it. You've got to create an environment where everyone knows the goal, and they are empowered to do what's necessary to advance it.

The Ritz Carlton, known for their legendary customer service, does this by empowering their employees to do what they need to do to delight their customers. Here's how executives explained their approach:

We're often asked: "Can employees at The Ritz-Carlton really spend $2,000 per day per guest?" The answer is, "yes." At The Ritz-Carlton, everyone has $2,000/day per guest to make it right or delight, but the money is symbolic. No one is walking around with $2,000 in his or her pocket. However, from day one at your job, you're encouraged and empowered to fix or improve a guest's experience, and you may spend up to $2,000 to do this.

"Employee empowerment means being able to use my natural ability to create a lasting memory for guests or resolve a guest issue and have the confidence that my company supports me 100% in my effort," explains a senior account executive at The Ritz-Carlton. "Sometimes the most delightful 'wow' moments happen in the blink of an eye. If employees are not empowered and need to cross layers of approval, these moments could be lost forever.

Your team is an extremely valuable asset. Whether they work on the front lines interacting directly with your customers, or behind the scenes doing the work needed to power your business, there are ways to use them on a more proactive basis to build customer loyalty.

Use one of the ideas mentioned above, or brainstorm your own. Just make sure you tap into the business-boosting potential that is available to you, by using your team to connect with your customers on a deeper level.

Published on: Mar 23, 2017