Your customer isn’t your enemy

Some quick background. I run a small online education site examrefresh.com. We help our users remember what they learned in college and then promptly forgot. We refresh their memory, for their exams. Exam. Refresh. Get it?

So anyway, currently we only cater to those in the field that I know which is medical radiology, specifically ultrasound. Since this is my specialty I have been tasked with creating the content. So I have created practice tests and tutorials and flashcards. The most difficult part was writing a book, more specifically a study guide. So this is what I have been doing for the past few months.

Well, I completed the first which is on Abdominal anatomy and pathology  (this was the easy one). My second task was to create one for Ultrasound physics. This was the difficult one.

Well I am happy to announce I finished it yesterday. Yeah! So this is where my latest round of business experience came from.

In running the business I have to answer the occasional email that comes in from a user. What’s funny to me is seeing the “new message” announcement usually brings over me a sense of dread. Why is this? Because my mind likes to go to the worst possible things that this customer could be asking.

Why am I not learning?

The website doesn’t work for me.

I can’t access my materials.

I know I created 7 trial accounts but I paid for one and I can’t remember which one I upgraded.

The dreaded, I WANT A REFUND!!

And so on…

So as I prepared to launch this new product I was thinking about the announcement I was going to send to my list. Of course I go through the checklist, what subject line will increase open rate, what tone do I use to increase clicks on my call to action, what is best for this, or that. How can I manipulate my customers into buying more.

It’s funny how all this goes on in my head.

So I decided today to just write the email to one person. Then send that email to my list.

My subject was a question. How are things going?

The body was just as simple. All I said was this. Just checking in on how your studying is going, if you need any help feel free to email me.

My only pitch was in the Post Script. Just a link to the book description page.

So business aside what happened next completely surprised me.

I started receiving email after email from my customers and users thanking me for thinking about them. With simple questions that I was able to answer quickly. The main result was a rapport that I hadn’t had before.

You know, it’s funny, when I was trying to “sell” my customers it created a fear of them. When I decided to help them and just treat them like a friend it opened up communication that I never would have had otherwise.

So I have been thinking, what else can I do for my customers that will further our relationship? I think from now on forward this will be my mindset.

It’s so different thinking of my customer as a friend. Now I know, my customer isn’t my enemy.

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Franco Vallejos

Franco Vallejos

I am the founder of ExamRefresh. A site dedicated to furthering the education of medical professionals. Education is my passion. I am the husband of 1 and the father of 4. We are transplants to Washington state but we call it home.

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  • Becca Lingley

    Love this! So very true – the relationships matter. So does customer service. And combination of the two brings results. Great work! Thanks for sharing.

  • Suzy Garza Higley

    As a customer, i respond to a caring personality every time. The ‘seller’ is the one i avoid. Even if they are knowledgable. If i don’t feel comfortable asking questions, or feel that my questions will be seen as silly or obvious, then that relationship will end quickly. …and it has many times. I stay loyal to the ones who care enough to try to talk to me as a real person, at my level of need. Good for you!!! i think you will see lots of positivity with your customers! 🙂

  • Matt McGee

    This is great, Franco, and the kind of thing that anyone involved in marketing (i.e., everyone that breathes) should think about. No one likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to be cared for and helped.

  • Franco

    Hey, thanks everyone. It’s funny how those lessons in life kind of come just out of the blue. But it is so true. I hate to be “sold”. Just treat me like a human being. I really like this outlook. Even if it means less sales, it means I can sleep at night.

  • This is fantastic Franco! As you were describing step-by-step how you were crafting your email I was thinking, “Yep, good, nice, perfect…” You nailed it. The Post Script is such a perfect place for relevant invitations (i.e. sales). They pretty much always get read and so NOT in-your-face.

    One other great way to sell to your list in via email is to simply be abundantly clear that this time, you’re going to sell them something. I picked this up from Chris Brogan and it works magically. Chris sends out really great weekly newsletters each Sunday morning that are jam-packed with super helpful, relevant content. So when he does send a “sales” email to his list in the middle of the week occasionally, he always puts something like “Selly-Sell Email” in the subject line and then starts the email with something like, “Just so you know, this is a Selly-Sell-Pitchy-Pitch email about _________, if you’re interested then keep reading. If not, just click delete and I’ll see you on Sunday!”

    It totally puts readers in the driver seat and completely eliminates any sense on the part of his list that they’re being duped, manipulated, or like they have to trudge through sales pitches in order to get to the good part. By implementing a similar approach with certain clients, I’ve also noticed that it preserves your list. People don’t unsubscribe. They feel respected. They don’t click unsubscribe because they don’t feel like, “Hey…that’s not what I signed up for. If he’s going to keep sneakily weaving in all this sales crap, then I’m out of here.”

    Oh…AND these emails tend to have even better open and click through rates then weekly newsletters. Turns out that if people like you and your message, they actually look forward to what new products/services you come up with!

    Again…great email and kuddos to you for making the connections you did and especially for sharing them!

  • Lou Galindo

    I’ve been on both sides of the coin and I think having worked in an area where providing great customer service was drilled into us from day one has made me more critical of the service I receive. I always appreciate when someone takes the approach of talking TO me rather than AT me. Your approach to writing that email is definitely something that I would view as a positive.

  • Elsie Puig

    I loved this Franco, thanks for sharing. As a newly-minted marketer it is interesting to see these processes take place. I think it’s all so natural as sending a simple e-mail asking how someone is doing or a thank you card or the simple act of lending a hand to a customer, just like you would a friend or a neighbor. I am so glad it worked out and congrats on the recent success!

  • Sara Taylor

    Agreed! My customer service emails are always dusted with smilies and exclamation points… I pretty much write like I speak. 🙂

  • Sara Taylor

    I love that idea! Kind of a “know what you’re getting yourself into” email. Love it!