At a time when being acknowledged feels like the exception rather than the norm, opportunities to connect with your people are everywhere. Giving attention, in the right way, is like sending an emotional gift certificate.
Most of us reading (and writing) this blog grew up on autoresponders.
They were invented solely to help businesses stay in touch, without all the heavy lifting of customer service and marketing spend. But decades later, these messages have lost any sense of real connection. At this point, they feel pretty canned. So while as owners, we appreciate their efficiencies, as consumers on the receiving end, our reaction is to hit delete.
Which is why, in 2017, it is (almost) extraordinary to hear directly from a small business owner. When an owner reaches out, herself, not in response to a complaint or as part of a PR strategy, but just because, it delivers a contact high — for both customer and owner. Sure it could be argued that an owner’s time would be better spent at the 30,000ft level, but the reality is that direct contact actually moves the dial.
Automation makes a lot of sense in a lot of cases. But unlike their bigger competitors, small business owners have the opportunity to cultivate real human connection with a customer or client. Of course you can program your CMS or email marketing campaign to regurgitate what you’re saying to every new customer or every transaction, even go as far as customizing communications with their first names — duh. But when people get a sincere/curious/thoughtful note from the face of a business, it goes a long way to plant the seeds for a lifelong relationship, one that will grow and deepen year after year, and a customer who will sing your praises to their tribe who trust her recommendations.
The cost is relatively small — minutes.
The win is proportionately big — years.
I’m not saying automation isn’t great and useful, but it creates a false reassurance that we’re connected to the people who buy our stuff.
Richard Branson once wrote me a personal note after I gave him a detailed (ahem!) review of his Virgin Atlantic first class service. They became a client, and I became a loyal customer.
If Branson can do it — so can we.
Here’s to saying hello for no reason. We can almost always learn something new by talking to the people who buy/read/follow or otherwise make it possible for us to be in business.