How to Turn Customers into Raving Fans with One Email

by  Will Ratliff  |  Creating Value

Raving fanThis last Christmas, my wife and I ordered some Baylor University fan gear from Fanatics. My experience wasn’t bad, although I do remember thinking the shipping seemed unusually slow.  I chalked it up to the holidays and really didn’t think much about it.  The sweatshirt, cap, and other things I bought were good quality and, overall, I was pleased with my order.

However, I recently received this email from Fanatics:

Dear William,

You’re receiving this email because we shipped your holiday order later than we should have. This is unacceptable.

We know you have many options for your holiday shopping. We also know that the holiday season can be stressful and fast-paced, and that a hassle-free shopping experience is imperative. You deserve dependable service, and our job is to ensure that the gifts you are eagerly anticipating arrive as promised.

In addition to offering our sincerest apologies, I want to personally assure you on behalf of the entire team here at Fanatics that we are committed to addressing any and all issues that we can control. We will get to the root causes of all problems experienced. In the meantime, we remain committed every day to measuring up to your standards.

In hopes that you will return to Fanatics and give us another chance to provide you the hassle-free shopping and speedy delivery you expect and deserve, I’m offering you $15 in merchandise credit plus free 3-day shipping on a future purchase anytime in 2014.

All of us at Fanatics appreciate your business and will do everything we can to ensure you always receive the best possible online shopping experience.   We look forward to serving you again.

Warm Regards,

Alan Trager, CEO


My response?  Wow!  I hadn’t sent an email or called regarding my order.  They noticed all by themselves what happened and not only sent me an email acknowledging this, but also gave me credit for more merchandise!

Smart.  Very, very smart.

Why would they do this?  After all, I didn’t complain and, likely, would have ordered from them again.  They have some of the best prices on the internet for college apparel.  Here are three reasons why they sent this email.

The best marketing is customer referrals.

You can spend a lot of money on advertising, but all the money in the world won’t replace a bad experience.  The only thing that can overcome that is building a good relationship with your clients.  That’s what they did here.  They built a relationship with me in one email.

Customer service is driven from the top down.

The CEO of Fanatics obviously knows how to treat customers.  In my experience, this kind of customer service is rare, and it takes moves like this to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Authenticity builds customer rapport.

This company was willing to admit a mistake and do what they could to rectify the situation.  Was I an angry customer?  No.  Would I have purchased from them again?  More than likely.  What was the outcome of this email?

I’m a fan now.  A huge fan.  And what do fans do?  They talk to others about their experience.  Just like I am.  Now, you might become a fan too.  All because of one email, a willingness to admit a mistake, and going the extra mile to take care of it.

Customer service isn’t about telling people how awesome you are, it’s about creating stories that do the talking for you. [Quote from the Buffer blog.]

How many times do we lose customers (or influence) because we are too proud to admit that we’re wrong?

How many times do we miss opportunities to turn customers (or followers) into raving fans because they haven’t complained or seem to be doing “just fine”?

What can we learn from a company like this that is willing to go above and beyond to reach out to their customers and turn them into raving fans?

What will you do to increase your fan base?  Spend more money on advertising? Or use some of those advertising dollars to turn ordinary clients into lifelong enthusiasts?

How creative can you get?  Let me know your plans to turn customers into raving fans in the comments below.

Image credit: lisafx / 123RF Stock Photo

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What People Are Saying

Nick Burman  |  13 Mar 2014  |  Reply

If more businesses treated people the way they wanted to be treated (and as people, not customers) then customer service would see a revival. More accurately, it would be a resurrection, because customer service seems to have died. I’m in the process of buying a house and it is a nightmare trying to get agents to return my calls. Why? They don’t care. It’s nothing to do with business, who is a big fish or small fish, or how busy they are. There is no customer service.

Think of customer service before selling and you’ll win people over!

Will Ratliff  |  13 Mar 2014  |  Reply

So true, Nick. Customer service does need a resurrection. My wife recently got an email from another company after complaining about their slow shipping time, and their response was basically – “sorry, that’s just the way it is sometimes.” When companies have exceptional customer service, they do stand out. Sorry about your frustrations with real estate agents – hope that gets better!

Dixie Fulton  |  13 Mar 2014  |  Reply

Great article, Will! This is a powerful example of the golden rule…do unto others. This CEO is very wise! I’m a fan, too, now!

Will Ratliff  |  13 Mar 2014  |  Reply

Thanks, Dixie. Yes, it is a great example of the golden rule. Thanks for your comment!-

Lin  |  13 Mar 2014  |  Reply

I could not agree more.
This reminds me of catching kids being good to promote positive behavior.

Sadly, I have become totally disillusioned with companies like SPRINT that get customers by making promises but in the meantime are breaking promises to customers that have been with then for years and trying to force them into higher cost plans while offering new customers plans that seem better than they are willing to give to current customers.

Will Ratliff  |  14 Mar 2014  |  Reply

Lin – thank you for your observations. That’s a great parallel!

There used to be something called “customer loyalty”, yes? Companies would reward long-time customers for being with them for so long, and they would get special perks or at least treated in a special way.

There is hope, though. There are companies out there that treat their customers well and go above and beyond. Unfortunately, these are increasingly harder to find.

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