Reaching out to your customers is hands down the best way to build customer loyalty and satisfaction. They will even fall in love with you over it.
Now, this is a story of how an organization has engaged one if it’s customers, but isn’t your typical customer or organization.
My 8 year old daughter recently took a test administered by our school district to see if she qualified for the “Gifted and Talented” program. This is a program geared for those students who demonstrate a strong aptitude for math and science. She regularly receives very high marks in both of these areas, but she is truly a child who excels in reading, writing, and the arts. She writes and sings her own songs for the annual talent show and her drawings are unbelievably detailed.
My daughter recently was told that she didn’t pass the test and wouldn’t be accepted into the program. She was really understanding of that concept, but the title “Gifted and Talented” was bothering her. She truly felt that since she didn’t pass the test, the title told her and the rest of the other students that they were talented in any other areas. She decided to write a letter to the superintendent of the district asking him to consider changing the name of the program to something along the lines of “Advanced Math and Science Program.” She felt this was more appropriate since, in her words, “everyone is gifted and talented in their own way.”
She sent the letter the other day and I was really hoping that she would at least get a form letter thanking her for her suggestion. What she got far exceeded our expectations.
My daughter called me from school yesterday extremely excited. The superintendent drove from his office 12 miles away to visit her at her elementary school. He wanted to meet with her in person to discuss her letter and to thank her for the suggestion. Needless to say, we were all thrilled with the dedication he showed to his students.
He didn’t make any promises about changing the name, but offered to start the conversation with the director of the program.
There was one comment that he made to her that stood out to me. He told her “Since you took the time to hand write me a letter, I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to just email or call you. I wanted to take the time to get to know you better and find out exactly what made you write the letter.”
He had me at “I wanted to take the time to get to know you better….” Now, this may look like just a story about a 3rd grader in elementary school, but it’s really the story of a customer writing to a business owner or leader.
The customer took the time to write a letter regarding a concern and suggestion. Many businesses never acknowledge or recognize the motivations for these letters, emails, or phone calls. Customers contact us because they have a concern. They are telling us that there is something about the way we do business that they may have a suggestion or issue with. If you are smart, you’ll respond in kind. I would suggest that you reach out in a personal way whenever possible. If a visit isn’t practical, the phone is a great way to accomplish the goal – making personal contact.
Remember, the customer owns your business. They pay your bills and give you a paycheck. When they have a suggestion or concern, take the time to listen and respond appropriately. Most don’t do this. When you do, you’ll be building that loyalty and increasing engagement. To really build engagement, follow the steps clearly outlined here… Five Steps to More Loyal Customers.