Creating an authentic, real and honest connection with your customers is critical to acquiring their loyalty. This was a key takeaway from a session yesterday at IRCE 2018 in Chicago about building loyalty through high-touch customer service. Ryan Lane, founder and CEO of Dream Beard, a men’s product and lifestyle brand, detailed the company's efforts to engender loyalty among its customers.
Lane started Dream Beard and its namesake beard oil in 2012 with just $46 to his name. Soon after launch, he began attending "beard-oriented" events and competitions, as well as contacting bearded musicians, singers and enthusiasts to get the word out about his brand. The strategy worked. Four months after starting Dream Beard, the company’s beard oil was sold in more than 35 countries.
Then, a few years after Dream Beard’s sales began to skyrocket, Lane launched a line of branded, wearable merchandise to transform Dream Beard's customers into members of Dream Beard nation. Currently, Dream Beard products and merchandise are sold in more than 100 countries.
So, how does Dream Beard keep its customers engaged, loyal, and coming back for more? According to Lane, it's by using the following three techniques that create real, authentic connections with Dream Beard's customers:
- Write handwritten thank-you notes to your customers. “I write thank-you notes to customers out of pure gratitude,” Lane said. “It's not part of a formal business plan. I genuinely want to write these notes to thank our customers for their support and for being part of the Dream Beard family.” Since Dream Beard was launched, Lane said he has written thank-you notes to more than 1 million people. “I spend two hours each morning writing the notes,” Lane said. “It’s one of the most rewarding parts of the job.”
- Use live chat. "If you’re not using live chat yet, you’re really missing out,” Lane said. ”It’s a great, practical way to interact and interface with your customers in a real way.” What’s more, it works. For Dream Beard, live chat has a 90 percent conversion rate.
- Host a podcast. Last fall, Lane started a weekly podcast called Life Gets Hairy, where he interviews a variety of people about what they do and what they believe. Topics run the gamut from parenting to tattooing to small business to bearding, and everything in between. The podcast has been a very successful endeavor for Dream Beard. Currently, the podcast has 500,000 monthly listeners. What’s more, Lane regularly gets messages from listeners about how the podcast has helped them or changed their lives in some way. Why is the podcast successful? According to Lane, it’s because it breaks through the noise. “Today, social media and social marketing have become nothing but noise,” Lane said. “To keep customers involved and engaged with your brand and ultimately cultivate your audience, stop producing noise and start playing a song that cuts through it.”