Richard Branson is not just a luxurious head of hair – he is also an entrepreneurial genius. I mean, he wasn’t knighted for nothing. Wildly successful with his many branches of the Virgin Group, Branson continues to make groundbreaking forays in to whichever field he chooses. I look to him for advice and inspiration, and although I’m not planning on launching my own airline anytime soon, this silver fox is a fountain of advice on how to keep customers happy and coming back for more.
In a recent article on LiveMint Richard Branson wrote about “Why Customer Service Matters,” and he recalls a time when a Virgin America plane was stranded on a runway for hours because of bad weather. In response to the problem, which was not at all the fault of Virgin America, their CEO David Cush called many of the stranded passengers personally, offering apologies and vouchers for new flights.
What the what?!?
Aside from the obvious “doesn’t a CEO have other things to do than call a bunch of price-chasing upstate New Yorkers?” it also begs the question, “why don’t I do more stuff like that?” Granted, my booming e-bay marketplace does not call for this level of outreach; however, many companies seem to have lost focus on what is important to consumers. While some companies thrive based on pricing strategy alone, many small customer-focused businesses succeed without putting an ROI percentage on customer care.
As a member of AMP’s PR team I immediately began thinking about social online media, and how keeping a watchful eye on consumers’ likes and dislikes can affect a company. Boloco, a “Boston Local Company” specializing in lunchtime wraps, has been known to lower the music volume in specific restaurant locations in response to Tweets. Apple handed out water to people standing in the heat to buy a new iPhone4 in Boston in July 2010 as a response to the social media buzz.
So what am I doing for my customers? Or, what am I encouraging my clients to do for their customers? While it’s easy to follow Facebook “likers” and tweet hashtags to observe consumer interests, it’s also important to follow up. Aside from giving better service and creating a more targeted product, it makes consumers feel valued and inspires brand loyalty.
Now if Richard Branson would finally answer my letters and adopt me I could do even more good for the world…