Many businesses often overlook the day-to-day things they can integrate into their interactions, communications and company culture to really make a difference. In most cases, these seemingly tiny items matter quite a lot to customers. Customers typically don’t care as much about the price of your product as they do about being treated well, having a positive buying experience and some semblance of peace of mind throughout the process.

I am sure you would agree that you will not find success just by selling a product and walking away. The entire experience counts. From the first touch, your customers are forming an opinion of you (and your intention) to provide them a product or service that won’t make them regret it in the minutes, days, or months to come.

I refer to these things as ways to “honor your customers.”  Honor in the sense that you are showing them, even in seemingly small ways, that you acknowledge and respect them. Think of them as a multitude of ways to smooth out potential bumps in the experience of interacting with your brand. You may have an outstanding product, but that can be easily overshadowed by the overarching experience of a poor customer experience. Common sense? Maybe, but brands slip up far too often when given the opportunity to sweat the small stuff so customers don’t have to.

In no particular order, here are some of the ways I think you can honor your customers:

  1. Hire employees that are passionate about helping your customers and not just making a buck.
  2. Share great content that makes your customers better, faster, stronger, smarter, etc.
  3. Make your web site easy to navigate. And don’t assume it already is.
  4. Provide an easy way for your customers to submit feedback and suggestions.
  5. Don’t advertise one thing and sell another.
  6. Make transactions painless. How many steps does it take to select a product and then have it in hand?
  7. Share the successes of your customers even when they are not related to your product or service.
  8. When you make a mistake, provide a sincere apology and an effective solution … as quickly as possible.
  9. Listen first, then speak. This goes for online and offline communications.
  10. Don’t pass the buck. If you are not the one with the answer then make sure your customer gets placed into the hands of someone who has it.
  11. Leave your emotional baggage at home. Your moaning, slouching, and frowning is contagious.
  12. Host an event for your customers so they can meet each other face-to-face.
  13. Introduce your customers to other businesses and people they may benefit from.
  14. Don’t put them on hold for more than 30 seconds. Better yet, ask for their number and call back when you are free.
  15. Enable your customer service staff to tackle all possible issues without transferring them to another department.
  16. Smile and say, “Hello.” You might just make their day doing something this simple!
  17. Make it easy for customers to contact you in whatever way is most convenient for them (Phone, email, Twitter, Facebook, store front, etc)
  18. Feature your customers in a blog post. They might just share it with their friends and family.
  19. Include them in the process of developing new products. After all, they are the ones buying them.
  20. Make your email newsletter as easy to unsubscribe as it is to subscribe. Spam makes everyone unhappy.
  21. Let your customers rate and review your products or services. If you have a great product then you have nothing to fear. If you don’t then you will soon find out.
  22. Make sure you have enough staff available to help everyone in a personable and timely manner.
  23. Give whenever possible with no strings attached. Hidden fees and agendas rarely make for loyal customers.
  24. Make it easy to return or exchange items. Reducing the risk of being stuck with a bad purchase instills confidence and peace of mind in customers.
  25. Let your customers get to know your employees. Their passion for your brand is infectious.

So I shared quite a few suggestions here, now it’s your turn. Mind sharing a few of your thoughts on honoring customers? Leave them in the comments section for all to see.

As a final treat and because I think Apple does a pretty good job of honoring their customers, I wanted to share with you a video of my experience buying an iPad 2 (after waiting in line for a few hours with a bunch of really cool people who made the experience fun). You might notice at least a half dozen little things that Ross, the Apple employee, does to make my experience a positive one.

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About Adam Helweh

Adam Helweh

Adam is CEO of Secret Sushi Creative Inc, a strategic design, digital and social media marketing agency. He specializes in the convergence of design and technology to provide businesses with more intelligent and interactive ways to connect with customers and grow. His clients have included Edelman, Broadcom, Stanford Federal Credit Union, the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Bunchball and others. He's also the co-host of the "SoLoMo Show", a weekly digital marketing podcast, and he has shared the stage with professionals from companies including Facebook, Virgin Airlines, Paypal, Dell and 24 Hour Fitness.

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://moderncopystudio.com Vince

    Adam – Great post. I really like #18 and I recently wrote a post related to #3. As for 18, they might even share the post with your potential prospects!

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/blog/official-black-seo-guy/ Black Seo Guy

    Let them speak and you listen..this helps keep communication open. Talking at the sometime starts arguments..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

    Nice post Adam. It's interesting that the more tools we have to communicate with our customers, the more time we spend focused on reminding people that what matters most is treating your customers well, social media is just another way to do it.

    To add to the list: If you sell a technical service or equipment, and it would be beneficial to them to know how to do a little of it, offer do it yourself sessions.

    FYI, didn't see the video you mentioned.

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      Patrick, I guess the more touch points we have with customers the more opportunity we have to screw up, no? Good old WordPress stripped out the video embed I added. Now the video is back. Take a gander and let me know what you think.

      • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

        Yeah, with more opportunities comes more screw up options. No worries though. FYI, now Facebook isn't letting the video play, saying it's unavailable.

        • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

          Right, let's try this one more time. The video permissions should be fixed now.

          • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

            Ok, finally watched the video. He did do a nice job, but it also helped that you were in a good mood. (Who wouldn't be, considering you were getting an iPad?)

  • Dawn Thomas

    I really enjoyed reading this post as I am always driving “concierge-level” service home to my team. It really is the little things that make the difference. Also, I find that the simple saying, “Do what you say you're going to do” is huge. The reason I know this is so important to my clients is because of the endorsements/reviews I receive. Many of them say something like, “Dawn did exactly what she said she would do for us.” It's really that simple–do what you say you're going to do.

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      I completely agree with you Dawn. Having known you for a few years, I know that you always do your best to honor your customers from day one. I would consider you one of the shining examples of what I am trying to communicate here.

  • http://www.contentrules.com Val Swisher

    Great post, Adam! This is a fabulous list. I might add:

    Set expectations and keep your commitments.

    If a customer makes a request that you cannot immediately fulfill, tell the customer when they will hear from you. Then, without fail, get back to the customer on or before that date and time. This goes along with “No Excuses”. You cannot honor your customer if you break your commitments. You do yourself and your brand (and your company) a tremendous disservice when this happens.

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      Thanks Val. I think this follows closely with what Dawn said in the comments. Admittedly, I know I have not always hit the mark in this regard. Days wiz by and then you realize you could have tossed a simple email to check in. Thanks for the reminder.

  • blissconnection

    Great blog, Adam. Something that I did recently that had interesting results. I think they are a way to honor my customers. For one, I asked my customers what they want next from my company. I told them no idea was too wild, crazy or dumb. We want to hear them all. I always say our best ideas come from our customers. The email response from them proved that! It was VERY interesting.

    Also, I did one of those emails newsletters to them inviting them to unsubscribe. I found about 1500 email addresses that haven't been active in over a year. I got like 15 unsubscribes but that really is o.k. (And lots that did not open the email.) I don't want to spam someone's inbox with content they don't want or possibly get from my fan page or twitter. I know it seems scary to invite your customers to unsubscribe – but it's really a good thing.

    Thanks for giving us all some food for thought and a chance to think about out business and if we are paying attention to all of these things that can make such a difference when it comes to customer loyalty and retention.

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      Those are definitely great ways to honor your customers Chrystal. Asking for ideas is good, making sure they see as many of those ideas come to life is stupendous! I hope you put the best of them into motion.

      It takes a lot of guts to provide the opportunity for customers to unsubscribe or disconnect from one of your communication channels. Letting someone go who may not be interested in your brand is far better than creating a detractor that tells others you are a spammer.

      I would say that 15 unsubscribers from a list of 1,500 is nothing to be disappointed about. Thanks you for sharing your examples.

  • Sejal Parekh (Innovae Designs)

    Fantastic post Adam, I loved all of the ideas – esp. #12/13! A few more I'd add are:

    a. Share some information about yourself with your customer (where you live, what you did this weekend, etc). It tells them you feel comfortable with them and is a way of honoring your friendship with them.

    b. Invite your closest and best customers to sporting events with you. It gives you a chance to interact in a relaxed environment. Luckily, there are plenty of fun events that don't cost a lot to attend!

    c. Probably the most important one – only take on as many customers/projects that you can give the highest level of service to. (Goes along with #22). This is much easier said than done but remind yourself, fewer highly satisfied customers is better and more fulfulling than trying to take on many customers and leaving them with a “mediocre” feeling.

    Thanks for the great ideas!

  • Dan Holden

    Very comprehensive, this is definitely worth saving and sharing!

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      Always appreciated Dan. Thanks for stoping by.

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual office assistant

    Wow, lots to digest. Thanks for generously sharing this useful info. Especially appreciate the acknowledgment that for some businesses, the goal may not be tens of thousands of fans but a few hundred solid ones.

  • http://twitter.com/LeoWid Leon Widrich

    Adam, this is a golden list you have there. Especially #19 is truly awesome.

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      Thank you Leon. #19 is a great one, especially if you have a product you can iterate on fast. Then you can get feedback and move on that quickly.

      • http://twitter.com/LeoWid Leon Widrich

        I totally agree. As in my case we are working on a product (a Twitter App) which we integrated tightly with our users experience. I hope this is not spam now, but I wanted to share a wall of user shouts about our product we just pushed live. I think you might find it useful as it really reflects upon your mentioned things above: http://bufferapp.com/what-our-

        many thanks for your reply Adam. :)

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  • http://twitter.com/GreenSoil Manure Tea Gardening

    Wonderful post on customer service! I will be happy to share….

  • http://wearqr.com QR Code Marketing

    Your advice is on the money!

  • http://wearqr.com QR Code Marketing

    Your advice is on the money!

  • http://twitter.com/coach_chris Chris Edwards

    Great advice Adam. The real trick is to make this stuff all just a part of the process – so that staff don’t have to think about it, it just happens.

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      Chris you are exactly right. Everything I mentioned should be a part of the way folks do business. That takes a willingness by the executives and then time to implement. Totally worth it in the end if you ask me.

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  • http://chargify.com Allison

    I think #12 is one of the best ways to honor your customers. We try to get together with as many of our customers as we can. If someone in the company is traveling, we reach out to our customers in that area and host a dinner so that we can get to know them and they can get to know us better. Its amazing the things you can learn from you customers when you take the time to sit down and talk with them over a beer! This really makes customers feel special when the CEO of a company takes the time to sit down and establish a relationship with them.

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      Allison I think that is awesome. I think the ultimate goal for all businesses should be to sit face to face with as many of their customers as they can. Meeting 100% of your customers in person isn’t easy, but should be something that you strive for. There is so much to gain by doing this that a lot of companies are missing out on. It sounds like you guys are seizing the opportunity. Good on you!

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  • Kolirana

    I liked the article. Can you please add more video?

  • http://twitter.com/BenVealPR Ben Veal

    Some great points here – thanks Adam. Completely agree regarding sharing relevant content – pointing customers towards useful information from others is a great way to create both loyalty and brand advocates.

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      Folks will get what they need to feed their curiosities and interests somewhere right Ben? Why not stay in their good graces and keep them close by being that trusted resource?

      • http://twitter.com/BenVealPR Ben Veal

        Couldn’t agree more Adam! I know that I appreciate brands that share relevant content with me rather than just forcing sales messages on me. I think most customers now expect more from brands, and sharing content is just one of the ways that brands can help to win over customers.

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  • http://twitter.com/S_Kamitani Saori Kamitani

    This is a great list of what PR should be like and a basic points that PR should do. I’m from Japan, where PR is not common yet, and studying advertising/ public relations in the U.S. I will keep this points in my mind and apply to my company in the future! 
    I just wonder about #19. What do you think the best way to include customers into the process of making new products? Did you mean we should invite them to actual presentation or demonstration? or we should be transparent and provide online feedback/suggestion about the new product?

    • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

      Saori,
      Thanks for the comment and great question. #19 is very much about opening channels of feedback and prioritizing considering the input from your customers just as important in product/service development as any other resource. Using Facebook, Twitter and other online channels can help facilitate this. In some cases it’s referred to as “crowd sourcing”, but a more personal approach will always make your customers feel more appreciated. Just consider how you can include their input when making future products come to life.

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