I’m an avid outdoorswoman—comfortable sleeping in the dirt and not showering for days on a backpacking trip—and a skincare fanatic. I have an appreciation for the simplicity of making morning coffee on a camp stove, and also my collection of facial serums. Though I wouldn’t say I’m a person who enjoys shopping as an activity, I truly appreciate how certain items enhance my life—smoothie cubes for a simple protein shake, a durable water bottle, and comfortable sheets. Truthfully, these items buoy our days, and the best ones help us live better—by simplifying tasks, supporting our bodies, or strengthening our passions.
As a consumer, I’m focused on a few things: ethical production, brand values, and customer experience. I care about what a brand stands for: Do they use sustainable materials? Do they have a greater mission beyond just making money? How do they treat me as a member of the community?
I’ve been an early adopter for a handful of brands—one of the first customers to catch on to a cool new product—and watched them grow over the years. I’ve stayed loyal to the brands that have continued to nurture our relationship amidst their growth, and valued my business and needs while they scale. From a consumer perspective, here are great measures a brand can take to remember their customers while scaling.
- As you scale, invest resources back into creating an exceptional product and customer experience
- Implement a rewards program to show your appreciation for current customers and incentivize new ones
- Surprise and delight customers with relevant content and resources
Recognize the day-ones
At the end of the day, while your customer base may be rapidly growing, it’s made up of individual people. Though you will naturally lose some customers, it’s a known fact that retention is less expensive and often pays off more than acquisition. While scaling, you should dedicate time and resources to reaching new customers and bringing them into the fold.
But make sure you’re also allocating equal attention to nurturing the existing relationships.
After all, these people have helped grow your business to its current size. You wouldn’t be at the scaling stage without them! Through communication channels—whether it’s email or a product announcement—take the time to include a thank you. Remind them that they are a crucial part of your success and are valued community members.
Show how scaling benefits them
As you start to scale and acquire more profit and employees, you’ll be able to offer improvements. When you were a smaller business, you were probably manually updating orders or handling shipping yourself. When you have more revenue and resources, you can start to invest back into creating an incredible customer experience.
Share with consumers that the company’s growth is translating into efforts that will improve their experience. For example, you can start to improve the product—better ingredients, higher quality materials, and more rigorous testing.
And, you can also upgrade the purchase experience. As a consumer, I have different expectations of smaller businesses. I understand that they have fewer hands to help with overhead, and expect longer shipping or response times. However, with larger companies, I expect that they’ll be faster and immediately responsive.
As you scale, invest in more customer support, like a dedicated chat service, or direct staff to respond quickly to emails. I really appreciate interacting with a real person when possible, and I love brands that offer a text line for me to check in about order updates or changes. Making communication more available will help you stay aware of any complaints or feedback, and let you have a direct line to address customer issues while you’re scaling.
If you can afford to offer free shipping, this is a huge plus. (We’ve all abandoned a shopping cart after seeing the shipping cost, despite how much we were about to spend on items.) If not completely for free, you can explore options for offering shipping at a discounted rate for subscribers. Look to the areas where you can really tighten and polish the product and the experience—share with your customers that as you grow, you will continue to pour gains back into serving them.
Loyalty & rewards programs
If you want a super tangible way to show appreciation for your customers, you can create a loyalty or rewards program. With a loyalty program, you incentivize customers to return and use their rewards, while also demonstrating your thanks for their business. An amazing loyalty program can really help you stand out from competitors and build your brand reputation.
It also really helps you “pay it back” to your customers. With subscriptions, you’re turning one-time transactions into ongoing relationships. Loyalty and rewards programs build bonds, and create connections between the customer and the business.
As you roll out the rewards program, you could even offer your current customers extra points. You’re setting them up to spend in the future, and showing your gratitude for their early business.
Keep it fresh
Though not my primary love language, I always appreciate a surprise gift. It’s an incredibly thoughtful way to show gratitude for your day one customers. Throughout scaling stages, include an extra gift in customer’s shipments, like additional product samples or a new flavor. It’s a perfect way to thank them for their support and demonstrate your continued commitment to them. You could even include a note, which adds a real feeling of personal touch amid company growth.
Incorporating elements of surprise and delight is essential for keeping your customers. For example, you could start creating more relevant resources based on their needs. Let’s say you’re a business that offers skincare products—you could offer video chat consultations, film tutorials, or design a step-by-step guide for using your products.
Know that while your customers may love your product, they’re paying attention to more than just the item. As you start to scale, you’ll have more capital and also, more data. With a broader set of customers, you can start to learn more about their needs and wants. Use your additional insights and assets from scaling to continue delivering your customers an exceptional experience.
Remember the relationship
As an early customer of brands, I truly cheered them on as I watched them grow. I connected with their stories and was excited to see them share their mission with the world. I felt like I was along for the journey with them, and a key part of their expansion.
As you look to the horizon for new opportunities and endeavors, don’t forget those that helped get you where you are, right now. Maintain consistent communication, offer exceptional customer support, and surprise them with creative gifts and content. Scaling will come with new challenges, information, and also, more resources. Continue to invest everything you’re gaining back into your community, and you’ll create a perfect circuitry of mutual loyalty, positivity, and growth.