Connecting with your customers - my three rules

We’re living in the most connected time in history. A recent study shared that we now spend more time on our phone and laptop than sleeping. This means that when you do have your customer’s attention offline, it’s more important than ever to make a strong personal connection and to train your team members to be an extension of your brand (and you, the entrepreneur).

When I first started my company, it was easy to personally meet and train each team member (who we call 'Taskers' at AskforTask.com) to ensure they understood our core values and commitment to providing excellent service. Though we have grown exponentially, and have trained over 20,000 people - so I’ve had to quickly learn how to ensure our team members know how to be incredible brand representatives when they meet our customers face to face.

I have truly learned the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to offline marketing and I’m excited to share my top three tips to help turn your team members into brand ambassadors that build strong connections with potential customers.

1. Use your own service. You may have heard that the founder and CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick continues to drive for the service to this day (and has a perfect five-star rating) or the founder and CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky staying exclusively on Airbnb for over two years. Similarly, I have a long time ritual myself to hire a Tasker for a DTV (Daily Task Visit) as consistently as possible (I just don’t let them know I’m the CEO at first).

This enables me to understand the pain points or feedback and act on it as fast as I can. Moreover, this motivates our community relations team to provide better service as well. A big win-win. This in person connection and conversation represents the importance of not only having the pulse on how your customers are experiencing the product, but helps in connecting with them without a filter. This results in first hand feedback that might get lost through the long chain of organisational hierarchy.

2. Name your offline marketers. A recent study by the Association of Psychological Science shared that when employees have the sense that they’re a part of a team, their motivation to complete difficult tasks greatly increases. As mentioned, we call our army of independent contractors Taskers at our company, and it gives them a sense of community and belonging from day one. Whenever possible, I do continue to engage in attending (or even leading) training sessions as often as possible. Having this in-person connection not only improves the outlook of the company, but also turn them into advocates or ambassadors who understand the core values and can communicate them well.

3. Treat people like gold. Richard Branson is well known for sharing the powerful quote: "Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to." We strongly encourage our team members, to treat their time at AskforTask like their own personal empire. We give them the tools to be a micro-entrepreneur and break away from that nine to five mentality.

This empowers them to be enthused by the work they do out on the field. The results of this are apparent as the average rating on our platform is currently 4.4 out of 5 stars. Investing the time to engage in person with people who represent your brand is the best investment you could make. This doesn't only result in better service to your customers, but a good word of mouth could set the basis for a competitive advantage and positive revenue growth.

It only takes seven seconds to make a first impression, so it’s truly more important than ever to embrace in-person connections. And yes, it’s great for business, and it’s also incredibly beneficial for you and your health! Connecting face to face, can lead to building strong personal relationships which has been linked to being happier, feeling healthier and living longer. A study shared by Harvard Medical school examined data from more than 300,000 people and found that a lack of strong relationships had an effect that was comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day!

So whether you’re running a business or working for a company, treat each interaction with someone as an opportunity to build your personal relationships. I’d love to read in the comments below about an innovative interaction you had, or if you’re a founder how you’re fostering in person marketing.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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