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How to Keep Customers Fiercely, Passionately Loyal (Sorry, Hostess!)

I didn’t want to touch the Twinkie/Hostess thing, I really didn’t. The politics and opinions surrounding the demise of our favorite childhood golden treat is almost as bad as the election’s negative ads.

But Harvard Business Review (disclosure: Harvard is a client) posted something that I think is so important:

“Hostess established a relationship with us as consumers, but over time that foundation didn’t do enough to keep us engaged.”

Frick.

We’ve all been there, right? We meet someone, we hit it off, then we drop the ball and lose touch until the point that reconnection is awkward.

Clearly, it transfers to business, too.

  • Someone buys a product from you, and at that peak moment of loyalty, where they trust you enough to buy, you drop the connection by leading them to a helpless thank-you page. No “like” button, no “follow” button, just “see ya when I see ya!”
  • You do some audience development by chatting with people on Twitter, being a rock star of your niche, and getting a huge influx of follows. You warm their hearts by giving them a chance to connect directly. Then you get burnt out, let your account get a little stale, and go the self-promotional route. People forget what it was they loved about you and they unfollow.
  • You meet someone at a conference, talk about how you’d love to do business together, then forget to send them an email after the conference, or send an impersonal LinkedIn request. Lame.

I’ve talked about this before, but there are several businesses who have earned my loyalty, and I shout their names from the rooftops because of it: Wistia is one, FreshPet is another, and WineLibrary and J.C. Cellars are two more. All of these companies appreciate their customers and know how to say “thank you.”

On the other side, there are plenty that I’ve pledged my loyalty to that got snooty along with their rise to stardom and dropped the ball like an anchor.


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To stay in business, we have to treat our customers like precious gems, like they are the lifeblood of our organizations – because they are.

We should ask them how to improve our websites, inventory, product features, etc.

We should respond to their eager tweets and questions on Facebook.

We should never leave a customer hanging when they post on our wall.

We should thank people who shout us out on social media, or anywhere.

We should blush every once in a while.

Every few months, reach back out to customers who you had dialog with in the past to see how they’re doing. Don’t get snooty, always be humble. Always say thank you, and remember who keeps you in business.

Not only did Hostess forget about their customers, they forgot about their employees, too. Who exactly were they thinking about?


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Amanda MacArthur

Amanda MacArthur is the CEO of BuzzFarmers. Before BuzzFarmers, Amanda ran the research arm of a publishing company for magazine publishers where she was hired to teach blogging and social media workshops to editors at Harvard, F + W, Time Inc. Condé Nast, Dwell Media and Bonnier.