Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Stories and the Personal Touch

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 23, 2007

paper-cutouts.jpgMy inspiration today comes from the Marketing Profs:Daily Fix blog.  Two posts in particular caught my eye, and I saw them as related to each other.  They are both about how being personal makes a huge impact on our emotions.

In the first, Andrea Learned shares how the Wall Street Journal is using stories in their new Journeys ad campaign.  Andrea also shares three elements of the ad campaign that any brand could use as they look to connect with their customers: celebrities as regular people (hey, the NHL is doing that one, too!), simple but compelling design, and a feeling of being genuine.  Andrea notes,

I have found it fascinating to observe as brands have started to mine their existing content, customer base, blogs, YouTube and employee files for new and interesting angles on their work, products or services. 

I have also noticed that quite a few companies are mining their customers for stories lately.  Not just the SuperBowl ads, but real customer stories to put in their own communications.  Lands’ End has been doing it for years in their catalogs.  Disney does it as part of their DisneyInsider e-newsletter to season passholders.  ProFlowers recently started soliciting stories to include in their newsletters.  Of course, one of the kings of customer stories is Jones Soda (thanks, Jordan!) with their customers sending in pictures that they put on the actual soda bottles in stores.

In the second related post today, Tim Jackson shares about his recent trip to Taiwan to visit with his factory and old, new, and potential vendor partners.  He was impressed by the way these people showed him they cared about earning his business through personal interaction and relationship building.  (I am sure it meant a lot to them, as well, that Tim made the long trip from California!)  Tim says,

…all the money in the world thrown into expensive advertising can easily be defeated by “the personal touch.” Getting involved with your customers on a personal level will almost always yield positive results, especially if you take the time to listen to what they are saying to you and you learn what their needs are.

Tim has hit the nail on the head here.  Showing customers you really care is gold.  It can’t easily be faked, because, just like Fools Gold, you can always see it is just a little bit too shiny.  Building business by building relationships may seem like the old-fashioned way of doing things to some, but perhaps it is the key that many are missing today.  As Tim mentioned in the comments to his post (and I have mentioned before), the little things can make all the difference in cementing these relationships.

That is what is in common with these two posts.  It is all about being personal.  We are always fascinated with stories about the personal lives of others.  And who doesn’t feel good after talking about themselves for awhile?  One of the methods I learned many years ago for ensuring someone feels good about a conversation is to help them talk more about themselves.  They walk away feeling like they were actually heard by someone else. 

Many customers want to be treated personally and want to be heard.  Social media is beginning to allow that conversation to take place.  Now is the time, as marketers, we need to step in and get that conversation going.  Let our customers talk about themselves for awhile.  And to borrow a line from Tim, “It might not produce an immediate result, but it might just pay off in ways you never expected.” 

I predict that those companies who are willing to invest in the conversation will find it pays off in the end.

8 Responses to “Stories and the Personal Touch”

  1. I am so totally flattered that I get to be mentioned as inspiration and also in the same post as Andrea Learned (she’s damned smart).

    Thanks for the very kind mention Becky- really do appreciate it.

    Yes, I am a big believer in small- small details that make a big difference. It might not seem like much to you, but your customers will remember it for a long time. Get the little things right and they will add up to be much bigger than any one BIG thing alone.

    Thanks again… I’m flattered.

  2. Tim and Andrea are both inspirational as you point out. They really add a warmth and personal sense of the world into their blogging and show us how the conversations can turn into something more meaningful. And as Tim points out above … it’s not really about a single big idea, but a lot of small ones that build and grow with your customer relationships.

  3. Gosh Gavin, you’re going to make me blush all over again. Thank you very much for the compliment.

    Yes, little things combined make up one big thing. It’s like my Saturn experience; sure, there were big things, bu tit was the combination of all the little things that made the experience unacceptable. Get this; they mailed me a survey asking me how my recent experience with their service department was! Can you believe it? They clearly sent it out as part of a regular follow-up with customers who have visited the dealership. Clearly they didn’t actually look at my account history. Clearly Saturn Corporate/ GM has no idea who I am still- not record of my history. That, my friends, is the official nail in the coffin lid for Saturn and me. And, yes, I’m mailing that survey in with lots more than they ever wanted to receive. The final line of the survey is titled “additional comments”… I just wrote “see attached documents”. Maybe now somebody will actually follow through… but I really doubt it.

  4. Ha! I love that Saturn sent you a survey. Reminds me of a business idea that a friend of mine had … it was called “Latitude”. It was about pushing ideas as far as they could go … and was quite random (and never likely to work as a business). But their tag line was “More than you bargained for”. Glad you had a Latitude Moment!

  5. Thank you, Tim and Gavin, for your ideas! I am always intrigued by what you gentlemen have to say.

    As you both pointed out, small things can add up to something BIG. Whether it is a positive small thing or “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, every customer interaction adds up. It is like putting all those interactions into your customer’s emotional account. You can make withdrawals or deposits with each customer touch. Get overdrawn, and you lose a customer!

  6. […] marketing ROI, banking, customer experience, marketing. trackback Becky Carroll’s post on Stories and the Personal Touch reminded me of the stories I’ve heard from loyal financial services […]

  7. Becky- Thank you for your very kind words. I am sincerely flattered.

    Gavin- It has been way more than a “latitude moment”… that’s for sure. Saturn continues to baffle me with their lack of understanding. It really is no wonder that GM is in such big trouble.

  8. Tim, you are welcome.

    As for Saturn, those companies that get it have tremendous competitive advantage over those that don’t.

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