by Dan Martell
In the film Pay It Forward, the main character (played by actor Haley Joel Osment) is invited by his social studies teacher to “think of something to change the world.” He cleverly plays on the common notion of “giving back,” deciding instead to “pay it forward”– doing a favor for three new people as a means of repaying good deeds.
You can encourage customers to adopt this same good spirit with a similar practice: Paying It Backward. You need to make your customers enthusiastic about reciprocating services, advertising your company, and in general helping your business to expand. How can you achieve this?
A good way to get your customers to pay it backward is by installing a “loyalty program,” fit to whatever conditions you deem acceptable for your industry/business. According to an article by Inc, American Airlines was one of the first purveyors of this practice; it wanted more loyalty and participation for its customers, so it developed “frequent flyer miles” in the 1980s–and other airlines quickly followed suit. Regarding loyalty programs, Inc says that you should ask the following questions: “Is it customer tenure that’s most valuable? What about dollar-value of purchases? Would you rather be a company that delights clients with surprise bonuses or upgrades? Two other big issues should shape your decision: What your competitors are doing, and how much your company can afford to spend on the program.” Consider carefully these questions before you implement your program.
Be As Personal As Possible
Personalizing your interactions is another great way to get customers to “pay it backward.” Micah Solomon, writer for Fast Company, says in an article that “a personal bond with customers lets your company…provides you with a powerful new marketing arm: loyal customers who will promote and defend your company online and off–for free.” With that in mind, one-to-one marketing isn’t a fad–it’s a revolution. Give your customers as much personal attention as needed, and they’ll give you priority when they make decisions about which businesses they’ll allow into their personal life. A good way to do this is by keeping email interaction to a minimum and using the phone whenever possible. Send thank-you notes and other small tokens of appreciation (like flowers) when appropriate. Go out of your way to recognize upstanding customers–members of the community, perhaps, who have utilized your services or product for a good cause.
Give Them A Guarantee
Lastly, try providing your customers a written guarantee that promises them that you have full faith in your product or service. Entrepreneur.com tells us that “guarantees are one of the most powerful marketing statements you can make, especially for new companies.” A customer that deals with a business that uses guarantees can always feel safe in their purchase–and, as a consequence, stays loyal to that company. Written guarantees with your signature, stamp, or company seal will further reassure the customer of your good intentions.
Ultimately, treating your customers like nameless faces in a crowd won’t do much for their brand loyalty–so you need to treat every one like he or she is your only. If there’s anything that the film Pay It Forward shows us, it’s that paying attention to the individual needs of others can bring big long-term rewards for the rest of us (and our communities).
What are some ways in which specific companies have encouraged you to “pay it backward?”