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Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010 at 10:20 am

True Customer Care Pays Dividends

By Natalie Hart
November 9th, 2010

Thank youMany online retailers have an endless stream of gimmicks and promotions to hook the customer. But sometimes all you need is a little good word of mouth to help you gain the advantage.

Recently, my friends and I began seeing Lands’ End Canvas free shipping coupons in popular magazines. Intrigued by the possibility of a new line from this brand known for quality, and drawn in by the promotion, we went to their site and began to peruse their inventory.

After a few weeks, my roommate placed an order.  Within two days she received a hand-written note in the mail thanking her for her order. Not only was she impressed that they had sent a note, but the hand-written message sent her over the top with delight:

“Great choice! I love all the pockets and hardware on this jacket – and the fabric feels perfectly broken-in. Please let us know what you think: nick@landsendcanvas.com

Mary,

Customer Care Specialist”

The specifics of the letter let my roommate know that this was not some manufactured letter sent out en masse, but that someone had actually taken the time to look at her order. The personalized attention increased Lands’ End’s credibility, made her feel secure in her order, and delighted her to the point where she became an advocate for the company, sharing the note with me and our other friends… all before her order had arrived!

Customer Care is a crucial part of any business. With the advent of the internet, advances in technology, and the push for ever-increasing levels of efficiency, customer care can seem like a lost art. That can make it a great tool in your effort to delight customers. Even traditional off-line business are rediscovering the value of customer care. TD Bank is emphasizing their human connection to encourage people to switch to their bank. Once a small community bank, TD Bank has grown to the national level, maintaining its small, personal feel by having a live person answer every phone call. (I can vouch for this myself, having called them recently to test this out.)

It can be a challenge for online businesses to maintain that kind of personal, human connection. We’ve all received the polite Thank You confirmation with our order, but by now, most customers know that it’s simply an automated response. Sure, the customer has already converted, but personalized attention on the back end of a sale fosters customer loyalty (think repeat purchases), and generates buzz (think customer’s friends becoming customers).

Not only do consumers have choices, but they often face more than one challenge along the path to completing an online purchase. Making your website easy to use and persuasive isn’t the only way to delight your visitors: let the ones who persist know that you appreciate their business. A little word of mouth can go a long way.

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Comments (31)

  1. I think we’re used to the smaller, startup companies going the extra mile to connect with us as consumers but it is nice to see a larger establishment step up their game.

  2. yes thats true customer care is the back bone of any business. because the customer wants to feel that he’s in contact with some one and he’s secure.

  3. Customer service is normally lost in the companies you would expect it from the most. Some huge high street names will just leave you on hold for hours and pass the blame to different operators on their switchboard. Nice to see true service from a larger outfit.

  4. That is some smart and classy customer service right there. With so many big corporations offering less and less personalized service this is nice to see.

  5. It’s no secret. A happy, satisfied customer, and that one customer could bring in more to buy your brand. Sadly, it’s lost now because of business becoming so huge, it becomes almost impractical to do something like the one posted here. But yeah, it’s really nice a business as big is still doing the effort.

  6. “A little word of mouth can go a long way” A happy customer can share their experience to their friends and their friends share it to their friends….

  7. @Fodelsedagspresent – Some big business are thinking about these issues, looking for better ways to assess customer delight, as well as ways to increase customer delight. Check out the “Industry Examples” section of this Wiki listing for Net Promoter Score to see who is on that list. The references at the bottom contain some interesting reading, and the books in particular relate some of the efforts of bigger companies to delight their customers.

  8. Personally for me, customer service has a significant impact on whether I choose to patronize a business again. Not necessarily a hand written note but in a brick and mortar store, things like being greeted properly and feeling like I’m respected and taken seriously matters a lot to me because I’m female and look rather young for my age and I feel like a lot of individuals will assume that I don’t have any purchasing power (which is incorrect). I will literally walk out if I feel I’m disrespected in any way.

    When it comes to online business, a personal touch is always nice but not always feasible with really large businesses. I think it depends a lot on the “front line” people; the customer service people who pick up the 800 number when you call etc. Thus businesses need to be really mindful of who they hire because it’s those people that generally interact with the customers and can make or break your business so hire GOOD PEOPLE!

  9. Great post to remind of some very basic stuff…the customer comes first. Word of mouth / reviews can go a LONG way in this digital age with comments and reviews being plastered all over the internet. Just make your customers happy!

  10. I’ve always been impressed with the things that Lands End do, but this is truly unique and something that is worth thinking of. No matter that size of your company.

    A similar situation is when you talk to a clerk in a supermarket or any other kind of store. If they are polite and service minded, then it can seem almost overwhelming since we’re no longer used to that behavior. Sad, but true.

  11. It is nice to see that there are still companies out there that are not just focused on money, money, money.

  12. A handwritten note to your customer is a great way to show them you care about them as individuals, not just as a source of money. Taking the time to thank them personally instead of sending an impersonal autoresponse can result in in more sales later on down the road.

  13. @TOM .. don’t rush behind for getting money, rush behind to provide satisfaction of customer, Money will automatically come to you..

  14. True customer care rules! Most of the ‘customer care’ we receive nowadays seem pre-ordered, and bundled along with our purchases, haha.

    If only people would understand that customer service is an investment that will repay their efforts in repeat clientele.

  15. Word of mouth is a huge way to gain loyal business these days, and businesses need to realize that in order to survive, they must put the consumer first. Who goes back or refers someone to a business that has left a bad taste in the mouths? Not many people.

  16. I totally agree: Only satisfied customers will come back. I think that’s the secret behind amazon’s success.

  17. that’s really cool – customer retention is a huge part of our business and it’s always the small things that make a big difference.

  18. yes that is really true in every organization customer care is the Heart of the company. Because the customer wants to feel that he’s in contact with some one and he’s secure.

  19. @Earnine: Hand written notes for online customers?
    In my experience, customer care, online or off is as simple as ‘do what you say you’re going to do’ and clients will come back. “Next Day Delivery”, deliver it the next day…if you can provide this, then you don’t need hand written notes and crap.

    From time to time companies throw in samples and things, it’s nice, but I could care less as long as what I ordered shows up when they said it would.

    What do you guys think?

  20. Customers should be treated like gold. Because without them there is none.

  21. Sure,
    Customer are everything in every business. If they ignored how can business survive ??

  22. Great post, and a handwritten note is a great example of valuing customers.

  23. Interesting post! I agree that “Customer Care” is a crucial part of any business. Success in any business depends upon on how you build a good relationship with the customers which is actually built up through excellent customer service. So, it is important to provide the highest standard of Customer Care possible and to always aim for excellence. A customer who feels good with your business will probably stay and recommend you to others. Thanks!

  24. I agree with you Jim. Without customer our business is nothing but an empty space. We should treat customer more than our self, as gold I shall say.

    Twitter Marketing

  25. The online experience can create a distance with our customers. We really need to remember the reality of the people we are dealing with.

  26. Customers is one of the factor why a business is successful and giving them what they want is one of the ways to satisfy them. Thanks to your post for it is great and have a nice day ahead.

  27. All businesses work primarily on repeat customers and references and if one can spend a little extra time in showing to their customer that one cares for them, I think that’s an investment worth making. Like you said, “a little word of mouth can go a long way”!

  28. People remember good customer service ans they tell people. However, they remember bad customer service and tell even more people.

  29. There is nothing more important than making your customer feel “special” instead of feeling like they have been taken advantage of which seems to be the norm with a lot of internet business. Another great article Natalie keep up the great work!!

  30. I think this is a smart and classy customer service which is available with many big corporations offering less and less personalized service.

  31. Great use of internet technology in business. I think it is challenge to maintain online business. It is great facility for all customer online business will help the customer allot. If you provide good services to your customers then your customer will be double in short period of time.

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Natalie is a Persuasion Analyst with FutureNow.

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