We’ve all been “just a customer.” On the phone with your cable company (blahrg), at the post office, in a restaurant — whether indignant, blasé or robotic, that distinctly “just-a-customer” treatment from a seemingly inhuman human is universally frustrating.
So we set out make Lately’s customer service 100% world-class (even though the world doesn’t quite yet know about us :-)).
Sounds easy enough: treat customers like family — everyone knows that.
But all relationships travel a two-way street. Meaning, “just a customer” isn’t only someone a business doesn’t know. It’s also someone who doesn’t know the people at that business. And it occurred to us that to truly be world-class, we’d need to get our customers to think of us as family, too.
How do you get customers — a.k.a. people — to care about you? Be human.
Rule #1 – Talk and Write as We Actually Do
Emojis, contractions, idioms, hyperbole, exclamations and all manner of naturally human vernacular (including the occasional spelling errors!) is the Lately way… Formality has no place in our brand of human, “warts and all” is our motto and Emily Post is not our queen.
When we communicate genuinely, our customers do, too. Which means we learn more, faster and can help, better.
Rule #2 – Share a Little Life
We have kids, wives, husbands, girlfriends, stepmoms, half-brothers, younger sisters, nephews, dachshunds and unwanted groundhogs. We also love rock n roll, making tie-dies, playing rugby, swimming with sharks (really!) and shooting traps.
We’re on a first name basis with every customer and do our damndest to get to know them. We’re personally connected with nearly every one of our customers on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter (including me). And we’re proud to say that many of them have become friends.
When we let our customers into our worlds, they reciprocate. Which helps us both gain a greater understanding of all the factors that may impact someone’s marketing workflow but also to gain the trust that we’ve got their back — because that’s what humans do.
Rule #3 – Own Up
Saying sorry is easy. Saying sorry and meaning it is harder. And when you’re a startup, you say sorry a lot (hi, customers reading this now who are nodding their heads).
But sorry alone doesn’t cut it. Because our customers take a gamble with us. We’re new and they’re willing to try us out. We know this is a BIG deal.
So when we make a mistake… man, oh man, you should see our Slack threads. It’s a team event, trying to figure out the best way to solve and apologize, let me tell you.
Which is why it’s essential our customers know that we mean it. We must be upfront, honest and give thoughtful explanation. We must also express empathy. No scripts. Just a real, human apology.
And we of course must make amends, whenever possible.
And if the mistake isn’t ours? We still say sorry. Because we are.
When we apologize, genuinely, our customers are more forgiving. And boy are we grateful. After all, we can only learn from mistakes if we’re allowed to make them. And that’s what being a startup is very much about.
So, thank you, wonderful customers, for letting us.