How was Tony Hsieh able to take the simple concept of selling shoes online and create a billion dollar company? A big reason for Zappos’ continued success is its dedication to customer service. In fact, Hsieh believes in customer service so much that he wrote a book on the subject. If you browse through the Zappos website, you’ll find that they’re dedicated to one mission, which is “to provide the best customer service possible.” And unlike many companies that just throw together a mission statement, they really mean it. Time and time again, they demonstrate the power of adding a personal touch to their service. From providing free “surprise” overnight shipping upgrades to sending flowers to a woman who had returned a pair of boots because her husband was killed in a car accident, these little gestures are often what turn a casual shopper into a lifetime customer.
Although we’re living in a world that’s driven by technology, that doesn’t mean people want to be treated like a spreadsheet cell or interact with the equivalent of a robot. Because personal touches are arguably more important than ever, companies that are smart enough to provide them are in the perfect position to build incredible customer loyalty.
To help you think about how this strategy can work within your own business, here are a few more examples and tips:
Give Employees Freedom: In the example of the Zappos customer who received flowers, the call center rep charged them to the company without first getting this gesture approved by her supervisor. If you want your employees to be able to interact with customers on a person-to-person level, make sure that you give them the freedom to do so. While this doesn’t require throwing all rules out the window, it does mean that part of your company culture should give employees the ability to use their own judgment in these types of situations.
Write a Note: Yes, writing a note is a very simple thing to do. However, when a customer opens a package and sees a note from a real person, it can significantly strengthen the bond they have with your business. While most people don’t feel anything towards faceless corporations, they do feel a connection when they know their order was processed by you or whichever one of your employees wrote the note.
Reward Loyalty: You’re already aware that acquiring new customers is an expensive process. Because you really do appreciate all your existing customers, make them aware of this by rewarding their loyalty. Whether you offer a full blown VIP Club for regular customers or simply send them a special discount by email, giving your loyal customers value in exchange for the value they provide to your business is a win-win for both parties.
Do you currently provide any personal touches with your customer service?