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How do you thank your loyal users?

Glassesgirl_1
Wow -- I may have just had the best "customer love" experience of my life. Over the last five years, I've been spending way too much money buying prescription glasses from one of those foofy overpriced mall "eyewear" boutiques (The Eye Gallery in the Flatirons mall outside Boulder CO). I keep going there because the optometrist is amazing, helpful, nice to be around, treats you like a friend, and most importantly--spends a lot of time educating and motivating you about what's really going on with your eyes, how to take better care of them, what it means to your eyes to be living at such a high altitude, etc. And best of all (for me), the folks there take the time to help me find something at least half-way flattering (or at least they do a great job of making me believe that... by the time I leave they have me thinking I look like Heidi Klum. Of course that wears off completely once I'm in, say, the dressing room at Nordstroms).

So I just lost my last pair of glasses and went in all desperate, 20 minutes before closing. My normal doctor was out on maternity leave, but her new husband, who'd never seen me before was there and he decided to do the exam right then, after closing time. Then he and one of his assistants spent 45 minutes helping me while I agonized between the two "designer" frames I'd narrowed it down to. On one hand was the very fun, very french, very expensive pair of purple frames that I dearly wanted... and on the other were the tortoise shell ones that were still cool, but way more practical. I wimped out and went with the tortoise shell.

Now the good part...

I came back in the next day when they were ready, and the optometrist's husband pulled out the tortoise shell glasses with my new lenses, and did all the adjustments. Then just before I got up to leave, he said, "Oh, I talked to my wife last night about you, and you've been such a great customer that we decided you might want to have some fun... so we went ahead and made those purple ones for you as well. They're on us."

I was stunned. Those very festive, very french suckers cost over $300, and here they were saying, "Here, go have some fun!" Talk about endearing me for life--I'll never buy glasses anywhere else as long as I still live anywhere in this state. And I'm dragging everyone else I know down there too, armed with all the knowledge they've given me about how important it is to have regular exams, the right UV protection, etc.

Yes, I spent a lot of money there over the last few years, but that's nothing compared to what I've spent on, say, my computers, stereo equipment, hell--I've spent more on Amazon just for books! But I've never had a personalized or even remotely special thank-you. Would it really kill most big companies to do that?

(I just remembered another fun example--two weeks after my father bought a new Honda, he got a huge shock when someone from the dealership showed up at his doorstop with a basket of fresh-baked cookies as a thank-you and follow-up.)

But the best part of the thank-you I got from the Eye Gallery is that they gave me an "I Rule!" experience. They weren't just creating a loyal customer, they were helping ME be more playful. They were helping me kick-ass. (Assuming you're willing to buy into my delusion that wearing those cool purple frames makes me smarter, more clever, and definitely more fun ; )

So, how are you thanking your users? How are the companies you do business with rewarding or at least acknowledging you for your loyalty? Next time you think about how to thank your users, see if there's a way to do something else for them, in the context of showing your appreciation. See if you what you do for them makes them have more fun.

They'll love you forever.

Posted by Kathy on March 25, 2005 | Permalink

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» How Do You Thank Your Loyal Users? from John Hesch
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Comments

You mean that's not the same as giving a discount to new customers? ;)

Posted by: Dave Goodman | Mar 25, 2005 1:54:51 PM

So where are the pictures? We need to see you with the new glasses.

Posted by: Shaded | Mar 25, 2005 2:06:12 PM

How about someone that does that at the start.
First job after graduating, got a very old cheap car - better than nothing. Took it to a garage as the clutch needed work. He pointed out that the brakes did also, I answered "I cant afford both". They did both, let me pay it off.
20 years later I still go to the same garage and recommend it to friends/colleagues.

Posted by: Robin Capper | Mar 27, 2005 5:38:00 AM

How about a picture of you in those new purple fun glasses? :-)

Posted by: Beth | Mar 27, 2005 7:48:11 AM

Kathy,

I've been extolling the virtues of giving the customer a reason for becomming my best salesperson for 15 years.

This story is as good or better than any I've got to tell.

My best service ever came from a garage in Gulf Breeze, Florida, where we just moved from. Terry at Master Lube Tune & Tire always gave me as much as I spent.

Mike

Posted by: Mike Sigers | Mar 27, 2005 12:02:33 PM

I feel your enthusiasm about the user treatment from your optometrist.

But, I think it is just a business tactic. You sure spent probably in thousands for your eyes at this place. Presuming 50% markup for the glasses, it makes tons of sense to throw some thing fabulous for free.

It is much less of gesture numerically, when you compare to how 'Southwest' airlines does business with frequest fliers. After certain number of one-way travels, you sure will get free ride. Only difference is there are no surprises in the south-west approach. Where as some one else expecting similar treatment as you, may not get that from your optometrist.

Posted by: kishore dandu | Mar 27, 2005 2:26:23 PM

Hey, Flatirons Mall in Broomfield rule :)

Posted by: A Former Colorado Resident | Mar 28, 2005 5:03:48 AM

I started using Amazon during mid-high school circa 1996. I think I may have been one of ten people in my state to actually consider buying something online. Wish I'd had money for the stock. Anyway, they used to send me magnets , small poetry books, bookmarks...whatever. Then after about two years of using them, I received a 20oz coffee tumbler each Xmas. I thought it was great back then. Consciously, I didn't think much about customer loyalty or marketing, but they did an excellent job. This doesn't happen anymore, but I don't think it would hurt them if they did.

Posted by: christien | Mar 30, 2005 1:31:32 PM

I happened to read this entry, on the same day I had my "passionate user" experience. In my case, it was not a free product, but knowledge.

This is the tale of two plumbers, and their handling of the same problem, but only one of them now has my loyalty and passionate user recommendations.

Our house had a leaky main water valve. My husband has many talents. He can make his own electric guitars, cook amazing meals, and give incredible back rubs, but house repairs are out his areas of expertise, as well as mine. So...

A plumber was called. He fixed the leak, but made me feel unable to handle the problem myself if it happened again, and implied if I attempted I might end up with Niagara Falls in my basement. Very scary!

Well... a year later it happened again, yesterday. I needed plumber, but did not want to call the original plumber again, because he is the type of guy that makes a girl want to take a shower after he has looked you up and down.

The next plumber, also fixed the problem. But, this time he explained to me how I could fix it myself and gave me confidence to do so, if it happened again. This plumber made less money, because he charged much less and would not get repeat business for this problem. But, in the long run, he will make much more money because I have renovations that will need a plumber in the future, and I will "passionately" recommend him to my friends and neighbours.

Bottom line, he empowered me, and made me feel good about myself, and I no longer fear creating Niagara Falls in my basement. :)

Posted by: Mary-Anne | May 12, 2006 10:59:29 AM

I loved reading about your experience! I worked for the Eye Gallery for 6 years and am thrilled to hear that you are such a loyal patient! It is a great company to do business with and to be a part of!

Posted by: beef | Jan 15, 2007 10:28:03 PM

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