I have a ton of passion and enthusiasm when it comes to customer appreciation. As a kid, growing up at my dad’s discount liquor store, I spent a lot of time in the world of satisfying customers as customer service was at the forefront of our business. No happy customers meant no business. As the store became a larger part of my upbringing I learned the ins and outs of running the business and was continuously reaffirmed about the importance of the customer experience and how it influenced the lifetime value of our customer base.
I eventually took over the store and grew it exponentially, both online and off, and it’s safe to say that wouldn’t have been possible without a strong understanding of customer service and how drastically important it was to our level of success. Regardless of how my career has progressed and all the different ventures I’ve been involved with, the importance of one-on-one engagement and customer and client relations remains integral to the success of it all.
In 2011, I published my second book, The Thank You Economy. In the book I outline my basic beliefs of what it means to best attack the way you approach customer engagement. While 2011 was a few years ago now, I still believe in everything I said in the book. I haven’t changed the way I feel on this subject, for it still rings true today: Customer appreciation should be an offensive move, not a defensive one. In other words, you need to be proactive, not reactive.
When most people think about customer service in the market today, they’re thinking about it backwards. They’re approaching it all wrong. What do I mean by that? Here’s a quick example: Someone in your company messes up. The customer is upset. Customer reaches out to address the issue. That’s when the company tries to backpedal and come up with as many remedies to the situation as they can. They’re trying to come up with solutions after the fact. They’re being reactive, not proactive.
And there is something fundamentally wrong with this approach.
Instead, customer appreciation should be used as the pillar of your offensive mindset. It should be top of mind when building out a strategy. Think about sales. Think about growth. Think about leadership. These are the things you specifically outline in your business objectives and company strategy. Add customer service to that. Treat it as a pillar on it’s own. A good defense for when something goes wrong just isn’t enough. You need to be two steps ahead, ready to show the customer that you care about their experience, long before anything goes wrong or they even consider reaching out.
Because when a customer reaches out, let’s be honest: Most of the time it’s because something went wrong, not right. My goal is to help you change that narrative.
Most people look at a big box retail store, in any marketspace, and don’t expect anything from them. Not a thing. They definitely don’t expect them to truthfully care about the customer. So when that company actually does care and makes a gesture to show their concern and interest, it hits a higher emotional center. It makes us feel as if there is actually something worth supporting.
So my advice to you is to get on the offense. Make it the forefront of your marketing efforts. Don’t treat it as a random act on the side, merely responsive to customer angst. It should be a part of your strategy from day one and the core to how you position the relationship with your customer.
About Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk builds businesses. Fresh out of college he took his family wine business and grew it from a $3M to a $60M business in just five years. Now he runs VaynerMedia, one of the world's hottest digital agencies. Along the way he became a prolific angel investor and venture capitalist, investing in companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber and Birchbox before eventually co-founding VaynerRSE, a $25M angel fund.
Gary also currently hosts The #AskGaryVee Show, a way of providing as much value as possible by taking questions about social media, entrepreneurship, startups and family businesses, and giving his answers based on a lifetime of building successful, multimillion dollar companies. The show is also available as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
Gary is also a prolific public speaker, delivering keynotes at events like Le Web and SXSW, which you can watch on his YouTube channel. He was named to both Fortune and Crain's 40 under 40 lists in consecutive years, and has been profiled in the New York Times, Fortune and Inc.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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