3 customer support lessons from Taylor Swift
If you have ears, you’ve been privy to Taylor Swift’s deepest heartfelt revelations while wandering the aisle of your local CVS. Or maybe it was the food court in the mall where you first heard something way too personal set to a beat and repeated over and over and over and over. Regardless of your stance on her music, no one can deny Taylor Swift is a master at customer support.
Anytime you see the word “fan” in this article, replace it with “customer” and you’ll see what I mean.
#1: She knows her fans run the show.
“I think the most profound relationship I’ve ever had has been with my fans. That relationship takes work, and you have to continue to think of new ways to delight and surprise them.”
She flies to Ohio to drop by the bridal shower of a super fan. She comments on Instagram photos with life advice. She invites fans to secret listening parties and bakes them cookies and feeds them Papa John’s pizza. Seriously, how do I get an invite to this party?
Taylor Swift sends handwritten notes, too, but hers are way, way, way more well-received because they are meaningful to the person receiving the card. She doesn’t send cards emblazoned with a logo, stuffed with stickers and a stock message, “Thanks for buying my album! Follow us on Twitter!” She takes the time to write something different to each person, based on what she knows about that person, and suddenly a cute little PR trick becomes the most special thing that person has experienced in their life.
While flying to the midwest may not be in your customer support budget, you can easily keep tabs on customers through social media, you can personalize your responses to their emails a bit better, and you can send small gifts and swag randomly to make someone’s day. Keep an eye out for customers tagging your product in their posts and make sure you give them some love – one of the easiest ways you can let your customers know you’re listening is to do just that.
#2: She seeks out feature requests.
“I’ve been on the internet for hours every single night figuring out what these people want from me. And when it came time to put out an album, I knew exactly what to do.”
Feature requests can often be a blight on the workday for someone doing customer support. It’s great that people love your app, but do they have to keep asking for stuff to be added? Do we have to respond to every single one?
Every time a person writes you a feature request, they aren’t being annoying, condescending questioners of your craft. What they’re really saying is, “I like your app and want to use it more.” It’s incredibly easy to flip the switch of your perspective and see customer requests as opportunities to learn how people are using your product and how they want to use it more, and what you can do to make that easier for them. Once you’ve mastered that, you can start pursuing those requests and ideas from power users and VIP customers – not very important customers, but the ones you can label very influential people.
You won’t be able to add every feature, but you can give each one the same level of attention and interest, and respond to customers with gratefulness for their idea.
#3: She’s a master of sincerity.
“Fans are my favorite thing in the world. I’ve never been the type of artist who has that line drawn between their friends and their fans. The line’s always been really blurred for me. If I see them in the mall, I’ll stand there and talk to them for 10 minutes.”
There’s a lot of companies out there who are jumping on the customer support bandwagon because, let’s be honest, it’s a “profit center”. People want to feel appreciated and known and respected by companies they give money to, which is why companies who don’t show that care for their customers are losing the reputation war. But it’s not enough to just promote your customer support team and ask people to “rate” their experience. You can’t fake enthusiasm for customers. You have to actually care about customers, from the very beginning, and it has to be authentic.
All of the things Taylor Swift does for her fans are calculated maneuvers to appeal to them more, because those fans will tell everyone they know about the magic of their experience. Normal press doesn’t really matter these days – truthfully, if your PR strategy is hoping to get featured on TechCrunch because you write hand written notes to your customers, you’ve already lost the race. What matters to customers is the feeling of being heard, being empowered, and being known by your team, not just as another sales number but as an individual who chose your product. You can do all those things authentically, even if it is a calculated maneuver to win fans, as long as you really care about those people.
A company that sees customer support as an after thought or as a way to increase profits isn’t being sincere. When customer support and care is invested in from the very beginning and given a seat at the table, companies thrive. When you look to your customer support team for real insight on what customers want and need and then do what you can to meet those needs, you’re on your way to create raving fans. (Also don’t forget the Papa John’s.)