Customers who love a brand are priceless. I get that. And I have written before about being won over by a brand and its fabulous customer service.
But, ponder this for a moment: it’s almost like social media has sent askew the age-old truth that customers who love your products, your service and everything else about you, too, will blab that to all of their friends, anyway. Not only is it unnecessary to ask for their compliments or to beg them to spread good things about you, if you did, it might even backfire. It’s got a whiff of desperation.
Here’s a great post by Andrew Blakeley about a different, but related fail: brands asking for “likes” on Facebook, but not telling consumers why. The thing is, social media really just accelerates consumer truths as old as bartering. Social media doesn’t change why customers speak up about a business. It merely helps them spread the word faster, wider and with much more impact than when word of mouth was the only channel.
That’s still very valuable, as this example shows.
“This is a story about kindness, landscaping and amazing customer service by a company’s employees who knew I wasn’t even a customer — yet.
Yesterday, I had a very important client appointment at 2:30 p.m. Got my materials, business cards, bag, phone, keys and snazzy new outfit and walked out of my home office at about 1:45 p.m. I was headed to our garage to drive to the appointment. It should’ve taken about 15 minutes. Plenty of time.
Except, I hadn’t counted on my 2011 Honda Pilot’s battery being deader than geraniums in January. Nothing. Not even a groan or a sigh, when I turned the key.
The meeting was at an office that isn’t on a bus route. And cabs are notoriously hard to find in Cleveland, and when you call one, the chances are about even that one will actually come (based on my limited experience, anyway. I stopped trying after three of the six I called for rides to the airport never came.)
I looked around, panicking, as I called my husband, who was at work, for ideas. He offered to come home and take me. But that would take an hour or more.
“That’s when I spied my heroes.”
Down our driveway, across the street, working on a landscaping project that we’ve been admiring for months, were two guys with Green Source. They had a truck. So I was hoping they could jump the Pilot’s engine. I walked over. I asked. They agreed.
A second call to my husband helped us track down the jumper cables. The saga also included a call to the Honda dealer to talk us through how to shift a dead car out of park and into neutral. (Turns out there’s a button hidden under a cap on the steering column, which can be pried off only with the help of a tool, like a small screwdriver.) Pam, in the Honda dealer’s service department, had to walk over to the showroom floor, open the door to a new Pilot, and poke around a little to figure it out.
Pam called back, just as one of the guys had pulled out the Pilot’s owner manual to see if he could figure it out on his own.
I retrieved a screw driver. My heroes pried the cap off, as Pam described. Then, they put the Pilot into neutral, pushed it down the driveway, hooked up the jumper cables to the vehicles, started up my SUV and waited with me until it was clear that it would keep going. (It was truly dead, so this took a few minutes.)
Their names were Justin and Frank. I had nothing to offer them, but I thanked them very sincerely as I waved and I drove off. I repeated their names a few times to myself so I wouldn’t forget. And I thanked them again silently as I drove to the meeting.
I was just three minutes late.
Hours after the meeting — which went well — I checked out Green Source on its website. I had memorized the company’s name on the truck, while it was re-powering my Pilot.
The company does stunningly beautiful work. Really gorgeous.
We had been unhappy with the landscaping service we had used the first year we were in this house. During the second, we just tried to keep up the garden and yard ourselves (and it looked — and looks — way worse for it.)
“Now, we will be hiring Green Source. And I will make sure the boss knows precisely why.”
I know that folks creative, persistent and kind enough to help me through that drama, when I was not a customer, are just the ones who now deserve, and will get, our business — and us, not just as paying customers, but as true fans.
But back to the point that started this post: I wasn’t recruited. No one dropped a flyer in my mailbox. Or asked me to call for a quote. Or begged me to “like” them. Instead, I’ve been watching a beautiful space take shape for months and then was shown true service by the same team, even before I was on board. It distinguished them. And it was enough to cement me as customer and as a brand ambassador.
I’m definitely spreading that message, by word of mouth and on social media!
Would that have worked for you?