Dogs are well-known for being man's ultra-faithful best friend without asking for very much in return. My childhood pooch desired only two daily meals, a squeaky toy, and maybe some belly-rubbing action in exchange for unfailing loyalty. Unfortunately for you, the average consumer needs a bit more TLC before pledging their eternal support, so here are five "squeaky toys" for securing engaged customers:
Make them feel wanted.
Even Fido might consider running away if you don't make him feel at home. Design the entire customer experience around making your customer feel valued.
Give them a reason to show up.
Throw a little beef jerky their way! Don't just tell prospective customers to buy your product; show them why they can't live without it, then show them how to purchase it, how to use it, and how to service it. Invest in the customer and the customer will invest in you.
Offer a real dialogue with real people.
Build a relationship with your customers the same way you'd build a relationship with a friend - listen to them, ask them how they're feeling. We say it all the time here - if you want to know what your customers think, ask them!
Help them learn, play, and create.
Surprise your customers with fun new features that they can help design. Allow them to teach and learn from one another (and you). Consider it the brand new toy in the dog park, bringing everyone together to investigate a cool new offering.
Celebrate your corporate heroes.
Share your values with your customers, and remember the old "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" adage. If you want your customers to be loyal and generous with you, you better start out by being loyal and generous to them. After all, the most dedicated four-legged friends are those that are regularly showered with love and attention.
At the end of the day, just remember that your customers want the same basic things that you do: a company that treats them with respect and values their time and opinions. They're the ones who actually build your business, so creating a trustworthy two-way connection with them will ultimately benefit you both.