I recently sat through a 1 hour family musical co-written by one of my customers, Karl Greenburg. It was a low-budget NY Fringe Festival production called Angela’s Flying Bed.
Now what was I, a single income no kidder with an aversion to musicals doing at this PG-rated pantomime on my day off, with so many other bleeding edge options on within NY cabbing distance?
Not only did I sit with a grin on my face throughout, I posted a mini-review on my personal blog and encouraged all our customers in the area to go see it.
Karl wrote to me very excited, telling me that, despite its lack of sugarcoat, my review was ‘the best he’d ever had’, and forwarded it to others.
Karl wasn’t my only customer doing his shtick in NYC. Puppeteer Jennifer Levine was performing her show Miracle on Monroe St at the same festival. She says she uses her Bike Friday to tow her puppetry paraphernalia to her gigs and ‘always arrives with a smile on her face’. I ran out of time to catch her show, but made sure I let our community know.
Am I ‘sucking up’ to my customers big time? Perhaps, dear cynic. To me, it’s a no-brainer, and just another hour in my 24/7 seamless worklife.
For a start, I wouldn’t be doing my shtick for very long if customers didn’t come out and support me.
I was in Chicago giving an evening presentation of my Route66 film at the Apple Store. Jackie Huba, the very busy co-founder of CustomerEvangelists.com, had relatives visiting but at the last minute decided to make time to see my show. I am profiled on her site and this has been a convenient place to point people to when the ask, what the @#$% is a Customer Evangelist? When I am interviewed about CE, I know who I send people to.
Chris Grimm, a sales manager of Globe-Pequot, publisher of my book The Handsomest Man in Cuba, heard about my presentation to the Appalachian Mountain Club and said, “shouldn’t someone here be going to this?” The movie has nothing to do with the book, but he drove many miles to introduce himself and be at my show. I know who I’ll be sending my Jon Krakauer pals to.
It’s gratifying when someone supports our life’s work, when they simply take the time, by showing up. It makes us feel like we’re not just spinning our wheels after all …
If we can help our customers in their life and work, and vice-versa, we can create real community, which is sustainable and dependable. When there’s no distinction between customer and friend.
If one of our customers has a website, no matter how amateur or small, we link it to our site. And what a fascinating array of stories out there! We also link to sites or articles that may be of great benefit our customers. In this day and age of spam, many are still happy for us to include their email address so that they may be contacted, thus becoming, as Jackie Huba calls it, our citizen marketers.
I call it ‘you pump up our tires, we pump up yours.’ Cary Pearlman, search engine scrutineer at eclickperformance.com, tells me our random acts of cyber-generosity can carry a penalty, that is, if Google ranks our site higher than Aunt Edith’s Snood site, linking to Aunt Edith lowers our Google ranking.
“But if you’re offering a great service to your customer, that should take precedence,” he said. “At the end of the day, providing fresh content and a service to your customers wins the race.”
And so that’s what we do.
We put our customers first, and in this day and age of offshoring, outsourcing and Wal*Marting, we’re still here.
Try taking an active interest in your customer’s lives and see where it leads. You might get emails like this one from Saatchi& Saatchi Lovemarks winner Richard Vallens: “Lynette, you’re just masquerading as an employee of the company. We know you’re one of us!”
Lynette Chiang aka The Galfromdownunder