Tip for Creating Better Experience
While this may not fall under the category of customer service, which is what most of my writings are about, this is one of the strongest strategies or tactics you can use to connect with your customers.
As I was interviewing owners of some successful Ace Hardware stores for my newest book, Amaze Every Customer Every Time, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about their charitable efforts. This is a way for them to connect with their community on a deeper and more personal level.
One of the keys to delivering great customer service and to creating loyalty is to build the relationship with the customer. I’ve written about building rapport, communication techniques, managing first impressions, and many other topics. There are dozens of these, and all are good and very important. The idea of being charitable and giving back to the community as a relationship building technique is another layer. This connects with the customer at a deeper level, sometimes even an emotional level.
Some of the Ace retailers will have food drives, put out charitable collection receptacles, contribute to the local sports clubs and more. One of my favorite examples is how some retailers will allow kids’ teams and clubs to sell cookies and candy, or have a bake sale, in front of their stores on Saturday mornings. By giving back to the community, at many different levels, the customers feel a connection and reciprocate with their business.
Now you might think that one of the reasons a business like Ace Hardware is charitable is to get recognition and get more business from their customers. And, you’re right. There is no doubt that recognition and goodwill are benefits to giving back to the community. However, that’s not so bad.
Rick Alspaugh from Kingwood, Texas, one of the Ace retailers I interviewed uses most of his marketing budget for local charities and his community. Everyone knows him. He says there isn’t a Little League team, a bake sale or school or charitable event that he doesn’t contribute to. His business is deeply interwoven into the community. As much recognition as he may get, there is just as much appreciation from his customers.
Your business might not have a storefront that can handle a bake-sale. You may not be a “local business.” You may not even be in retail. But that doesn’t mean that the concept of giving back and building a relationship with your customers on a charitable level can’t work. Many companies take their “giving back” strategy very seriously. Just Google the phrase “charitable companies” and you will be amazed at the number of great companies, like Ace Hardware, that are committed to giving back. It builds a relationship with the community, helps with employee fulfillment and can create an emotional bond with customers. And when the customer feels good about who they do business with, well that can only lead to a better customer experience, which can then lead to more business.
NOTE: This article is based on one of the tools from Shep Hyken’s upcoming book Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet, which appears in stores everywhere in September 2013. Preorder the book and get valuable extras at www.AmazeEveryCustomer.com.