I learned the importance of customer satisfaction when a customer came into the coffee shop I was working at and said, “I’d like to order a sandwich and chips to go, please.” The store manager who was working at the time replied, “Sorry, we don’t start selling lunch for another 5 minutes. You can get back in line and order again.” She was a little thrown off by his response, as was I. “Are you serious?” She gave him a stare and then left. The importance of customer satisfaction can have an impact on your business and if you don’t start paying attention you’ll lose an opportunity to make a customer happy.
They say “a business is only as strong as its closest customer relationships.” Now after having some real world working experience under my belt, I know that this statement is true. It’s not just about being nice to your customers, it’s about understanding how strong customer relationships are pivotal to a company’s success. Seriously, think back to the last time someone did something nice for you, and not in the opening the door for you sense, but someone who went out of their way for you. How did it make you feel afterward? Grateful, hopefully. Business is no different. Business doesn’t just happen in the development process of a product or service, it happens in the small personal interactions that allow us to show each other who we are and what we believe in – the honest moments that build trust and loyalty. Now imagine if you could take those interactions and scale them to hundreds, thousands, even millions of people who make up your customer base. Years ago this would have been impossible, but today scaling those interactions can totally happen. This is what business expert Gary Vaynerchuk refers to as the “Thank You Economy.”
Vaynerchuk wrote “The Thank You Economy” for businesses to understand what early adopters of social media like him can already see – that we’ve entered into a new era in how we interact with our customers. It’s no longer enough that a strong marketing initiative will turn consumers into customers. To have an impact, he says, we have to find other ways to connect with people to inspire an emotional charged interaction. Social media is more than media. It’s a cultural shift – a way to connect with people, an opportunity to hear what they want, what they think, how a product or service worked or how it didn’t. That’s why today 80% of small businesses are embracing social media – because communicating makes people happy. Social media has made it possible for customers to interact with business in a way that’s similar to how they interact with their friends and family. They talk, they listen, and eventually a relationship is built. It’s not about using social networking sites to spread a sales-like message about a business – it’s a chance to be personal again.
Businesses have to start working harder to connect with their customers and make them happy, “not just because change is coming” says Vaynerchuk, “it’s because it’s here.” Just think how many more people would have heard that we’d lost an unhappy customer’s business if the woman who came into the coffee shop had Tweeted and Yelped her experience. “We are talking and listening in unprecedented numbers, and our opinions and purchasing decisions are being affected and influenced even as we stand in the store aisle and weigh our options.” No business is going to strike out by opening the lines of communication with its customers and marketing to them in a personal, caring way that makes them feel valued. If your company is brave enough to expose its heart and soul, according to Vaynerchuk, people will respond. They will connect. They will like you. They will talk. And they will buy. “There’s only so far you can stretch your marketing budget. Your heart, though—that’s boundless.” What pays off the most is your willingness to show people that you care—about them, their experience with you, and about their business.