I Treat My Customers Like My Dog

Her name is Bobbie. She's a dog. When people ask me what kind, I tell 'em "a brown one'. She's a Heinz 57 and she's a pain in the "you know what."  Some of her qualities are:

  • It's impossible to keep her off the couch. 
  • You can forget putting food on the coffee table for more than 30 seconds. 
  • She prefers paper towels and toilet paper roll snacks, rather than Snausages or Cheese. She's smart like that. 
But she taught me something that no books on marketing ever could. She taught me how to become a client's best friend, or 'favorite resource' in marketing terms. You can call it "inbound marketing' if that's what floats your boat.

We Were Over Feeding Her

She was at least 20 pounds over weight. She could barely walk. Running was out of the question. She even struggled getting off the couch when I walked in on her.  My wife and I had discussed it, but didn't think much of it. I was feeding her one night when my wife "I just fed her!"  "Well she acts like she's hungry to me!" I replied.  As it turns out, everyone in the house had been feeding her cans, cups, or packages of food all day long.  All she had to do was 'act' hungry. She's a dog. She's going to eat what's given to her. So I set out to help her.

A Barking Alarm

A decision was made that I would be the one that fed her. I would cut her food back to two cans a day. I would split the cans to four meals.  I needed a way to remind myself that it was time to feed her. I figured a phone alarm would work fine.  So, here's where it gets really embarrassing for me.  I feel so ashamed to admit it. Seeing it in writing is upsetting.  But here goes.  I have an IPhone. There. I've said it. I feel bad enough about it all by myself.

Setting The Alarm

I like things that are easy to remember. So I set the alarm to 'barking dog' as the sound file. Four times a day, the alarm declared feeding time with a loud 'woof woof woof'. As soon as it went off, Bobbi would come running into the room. After a couple weeks, she started hanging out with me about 10 minutes before the alarm. She became so excited when the alarm went off that she would run around me and consequently block my path to her bowl.  So I taught her to sit and stay until her food was in the bowl. Then I would I clap my hands and say "It's OK. You can have it!"  It's been a good thing. Our dog food bill is down. She lost weight and is much happier. And then it hit me. 

What If I Treated My Customers Like That?

I know. It doesn't sound right at first. Treating your customers like a dog. But when you think about the care and concern involved, it changes the perspective. After all, it wasn't about me. It was about her. I had arranged my day around Bobbie's needs. And her internal clock became set to be available at the right time. And she was happy about it.

Maybe It Will Work On Humans

I decided that I would setup regular intervals of contact with my customers. In the days of automated tweets, emails and 'Happy Birthdays' that may seem easy. But I'm not talking about those things. I'm talking about the things that say "I'm interested in you and your needs."  I'm talking about using the automation to keep you on track, a disingenuous demonstration of how technically astute you are. (Just so you know.. your 'Happy Birthday' automated messages are picked up as spam by many email filters.) 

How To Implement This With Your Clients

Setup a recurring event in Google Calendar. Send your customer an invitation to attend the event, including a Google Hangout. Set a reminder to be sent to them the day of the event. Include a note in the reminder that they can also provide you information by 'replying' to the invitation. Then, CALL them about 5 minutes before the scheduled event.  That's it.  Everything else will flow naturally from there.  You're going to be happy with the results.