Awhile back, before the Internet was a glimmer in anyone’s eye, if you ran a business, chances are pretty good that you knew your best customers well. When you saw them, you might ask if they wanted the usual, and you’d get to know them on a more personal level because you saw them in real life and had real conversations. You’d know the names of their children, what their preferences were, and more. These relationships, paired with a good product are things that kept your customers coming back. It also made them more understanding if/when you had inventory issues, when service wasn’t up to the usual standards, or when someone else came along who did the same thing, perhaps even for a cheaper price. You said “thank you” face-to-face when they made a purchase.
The Internet has made a world where anyone with the skills and the ambition to start a web business can easily start one in a short period of time and make money from customers all around the world. It’s revolutionary, and it’s an awesome world to live in.
However, as people who run web apps, we haven’t had the same sort of connection to our customers. We see hundreds, maybe thousands of people signing up for our apps, but other than responding to support requests and making announcements, we don’t really interact with them much. And some of that is a good thing, because you can be available only when someone really needs you, and be out of the way at other times. However, after years of running successful web apps, I’ve learned that the people who I personally connect with are some of my best customers: the ones that are happy to pay me for my app… the ones who tell their friends about it… the ones who stick around for the long haul.
These days, customers are quick to press the delete button on their account if they have any issue at all, because they don’t know you. From bad experiences with customs support in the past, they assume that there isn’t a human who cares on the other end. What if they knew that you cared before they ran into issues? What if you both knew each other better?
As we build apps, it’s important to realize that we are building them for people. We’re trying to make their lives better, or their jobs easier. At the end of the day, we’re trying to improve people’s lives. And our customers are giving us money in exchange for our product, so let’s try to be more thankful and tell our customers that we appreciate them. Reach out to them when they sign up for your product with a personal email that thanks them for giving your product a shot. Give your best customers an unexpected discount, with no strings attached. Send out handwritten Thank You cards to people who have been with you for years. Whatever you do, just tell your customers Thank You somehow, on a regular basis. You won’t regret it.