Those of us in the marketing and customer service arenas are familiar with Jeff Bezos’ most famous strategy. At all meetings, Bezos always set up an empty chair to represent the customer. As a result,, which was founded to be the “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company” has become known as an international leader in customer centricity.

According to Andy Hasselwander of Marketbridge, “Being customer-centric means thinking like your customers, paying attention to your customers, listening to your customers, and designing your business for your customers.”

While this powerful symbolism worked for, can it work for your brand? Does your leadership team set up a chair to represent your customers at meetings? How does your brand listen to customers? If an empty chair is not your brand’s solution for considering the customer and/or the importance of customer feedback, here are five alternatives.

Immediately following a purchase, send a “thank you” email to your customer with a subject line “THANK YOU and 3-QUESTION SURVEY.” The three questions should be as follows:
(1) Were you happy with your purchase?
(2) Would you buy something else from us?
(3) Would you recommend us to a friend?
If you answered NO to any of these three questions, please explain why.
These three questions will determine if a customer was happy and will be a return customer, and if not, hopefully, the customer will provide sufficient information so that you can resolve whatever error or upset occurred.

(2) 24/7 ONLINE CHAT
Offer an online chat capability from your main website. Too many brands offer online chats with limited hours, which causes more harm than good since customers are unable to use them. And if you offer something that is unavailable, you might as well not offer it at all.

While many brands accept returns, there are often too many conditions that prevent customers from actually returning products. There may be a specific return window, or an unwrapping or usage constraint, etc. Consider the infamous Nordstrom tire story. While Nordstrom did not actually sell tires, the retail giant accepted the return because a store that it had purchased sold the tires. Above all, though, Nordstrom did not want to disappoint its customer. When accepting returns, do you want to disappoint your customers?

While many brands offer loyalty programs, there are often constraints to redeem perks. Here’s an example of easy perk redemption: This season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a new restaurant partner at Dodger Stadium, the California Pizza Kitchen. To promote that partnership, whenever the Dodgers win a home game, CPK offers a free pizza for loyalty members. Each morning following a home game victory, CPK sends an email to loyalty members reminding them of the free pizza, and any time that day, loyalty members can visit a CPK and get a free pizza by showing their loyalty number. Talk about easy!

According to Zendesk, 64 percent of people expect to receive real-time assistance regardless of the customer service channel they use. However, with the brief nature of Twitter and its real-time response features, it is the best social media platform for customers to request assistance, voice a complaint, or simply engage with a brand. The stand-out brands have a dedicated team awaiting and reading Tweets – and are ready with the authority to act based on their responses.

So, what option will your brand use to represent your customer’s voice? In today’s age of the customer, make sure you choose some way for your customer to be heard.

Image Credit: Allec Gomes via Unsplash