As marketers, we spend our days and nights looking for strategies that will build awareness, preference and demand for our organizations. And the ultimate payoff is when all that hard work and investment turns into a customer.
Landing a customer is important, but keeping that customer is critical.
There are countless tools, strategies and technologies for managing customer relationships (and I am fortunate to work for a company that is a recognized global leader in that area), but one of the most overlooked tactics is the simplest one to do: expressing personal appreciation.
There are plenty of marketing formulas that say a prospect needs a certain number of “touches” before they’re primed to make a purchasing decision. But do organizations bring the same quantitative approach to embedding the “vocabulary of appreciation” into the way they engage our customers?
Stop and ask yourself:
- When was the last time you picked up the phone and told a customer you appreciated their business?
- How about jotting off a personal note?
- When’s the last time you paid a brief visit to a customer to say thanks and ask them what you can do to provide them with more value?
This is why the human touch is so vital to the customer relationship. Every employee should do their part in “humanizing the brand” to customers.
I believe that marketing should not be viewed as B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer), but B2P: business-to-people. It is easy to look at a sales spreadsheet or a customer pie chart and see a quantitative picture; underneath the numbers are personal decision-makers. And any business, at its core, is built on personal relationships.
Organizations that understand and embrace the personal touch of their customer relationships will be in a better position to succeed.
If your organization is going to build stronger personal relationships with its customers, you have to realize that expressions of “thank you” are the currency of these relationships.
This is the way we at SAP are humanizing our own brand. In other words, we’re getting the human factor into everything we do by having our employees connect to the people at our customers. This is why I think we are in the business of “people to people” and NOT in the “business to business” mindset.
One person who “gets this” is Gary Vaynerchuk, a serial entrepreneur who has revolutionized the way companies, brands and entrepreneurs look at interacting with their customers and their communities. In his latest book, The Thank You Economy, he says that the Internet and the rise of social media have given customers not just their voice, but new outlets to flex their purchasing muscles. If they are not satisfied with a brand or a supplier, the power to find new options is literally just a mouse click away.
Vaynerchuck says, “The Internet is growing up. Suddenly, everyone who’s ever had a problem with a company can compare notes, work him- or herself into a righteous frenzy, and build up enough animosity via word of mouth to create a real PR nightmare.”
Obviously, companies have to deliver a superior product or service and quickly respond to and resolve customer issues. But it all points back to the customer’s experience. A small, thoughtful and personal gesture does not cost anything but your time. It can make a big difference in building customer loyalty.
Thanks to technology and the Internet, we can be more closely connected than ever before. As the marketers and communicators of our organizations, we have two important responsibilities:
- Doing everything possible to humanize the brand
- Making sure the vocabulary of appreciation is part of the customer conversation
What techniques do you employ to humanize your company’s brand? What does your company do to make sure your customers know they are truly appreciated?