There are a bunch of ways that companies turn normal customers into loyal fans – fans that talk about those companies to their family, friends and others in their industry – without being asked (or incented) to do so. Depending on the type of company – I think it’s probably much easier for some than others. For example – companies that make or sell a product you eat (like a mouth watering lasagna) or a necessary product for a particular passion or activity (like a pair of light weight comfortable running shoes) – can create fans a lot easier than let’s say – an insurance company. I mean think about an insurance company – you pay them every year and usually get nothing for it. You just keep paying them – hoping that you don’t actually need them. And when you do need them – it’s usually related to something bad – like an accident – or a storm – or a sickness. So fans of insurance companies are hard to find. BUT – there are companies like USAA that sell insurance and still create loyal fans through amazingly helpful service. I know because I am lucky to be one of their customers (thanks to my Dad – who served in the Navy). So no matter what kind of company you are – there is always a way (or 2) to figure out how to stand out and turn regular old customers in fans.
So I thought I’d share 3 simple things we’ve done over the years (that have nothing to do with our actually software or it’s features) to create loyal fans of our business. And our business is a software service that we sell to businesses – which is definitely not as fun to buy as lasagna. So here they are….
1. We really work hard (or is it lack of work?) at being easy to do business with and to make it enjoyable to be a customer. We don’t act like we are “partners” with our customers – making it seem like a business to business relationship – but more like a human to human relationship. I’d honestly rather be friends – than partners. Plus, the customers we focus on don’t have time for partners (which brings some sort of baggage usually – like contracts) – they just need people who are easy and enjoyable to do business with. That’s not as normal as it should be, so it creates fans. Humans want to do business with humans that they like – regardless of what they buying.
2. We try to help the industry we serve (independent restaurants) thrive and grow and get better and compete in a world filled with big corporate chains who have a lot of resources. Our book and video series (about independent restaurant owners) is awesome because it’s showcasing and bringing to light some of the smartest entrepreneurial people in the restaurant industry. People who have great stories to share that can help others. By visiting their restaurants and producing amazing content about their story and even having beers with them after filming to learn about their life and family – we are creating friends and fans.
3. We are personable people (from North Carolina) and we enjoy being nice to others. We do simple things like say “Hey” instead of “Hi” – it’s just warmer seeming. We don’t pretend to be big, we aren’t. We don’t sign emails as if we are a support person assigned to accounts – but rather a friend who is there to help. So we ask them about their business too and some (we know well) about their family and how everything is going in general. It doesn’t take much time to do and it’s interesting to find out how they are doing and it ultimately creates a great relationship and usually another fan.
The funny thing about these 3 things is that not only does it make people feel more comfortable about doing business with us – it also makes the job more fun for us. When you wake up every day knowing you have a chance to interact with someone in a way they are not accustomed to and in a way to maybe turn them into your next fan – it’s really fun!