In the past few months, I’ve had a handful of experiences with brands as a customer that really stand out in my mind.

About a month ago, I started a trial with SamCart and received a welcome video. And let me tell you, this wasn’t some standard clip with my slapped my name it. This was a personal message directly to me, recorded by Scott from SamCart, where he specifically thanked me for signing up.

I had an issue recently with some earrings I purchased from Maison Miru. I sent them an email, and in return received several super-thoughtful messages from the owner/founder/designer, Trisha, along with a couple of solutions to the problem.

Every time I place an order with Integrity Botanical, there’s a short, handwritten “thank you” note in the package when it arrives.

Stylists for Stitch Fix always include personalized notes about the items they chose and why they chose it specifically for you.

These are experiences that, as a customer, I will always remember. They are the kind of experiences that will keep me coming back and solidify my loyalty. When a brand takes the time to make you feel loved and appreciated, the instinct is to love them back.

This is how you build your brand.

Yes, you need to make money to stay (or start) in business, and in order to make money, you need to make sales. Those aren’t facts you can ignore. But if you simply focus on loving your customers really, really well, you’ll end up with a tribe of people who love you so much they can’t imagine going anywhere else.

So where or how can you improve and optimize your customer experience to start building a loyal tribe that keeps coming back for more? Here are a few things to consider.

First, get in the right mindset.

In the world of online business, it’s so easy to get caught up in things like sales, statistics, and likes, that we forget there is a living, breathing human being behind every single one of those numbers.

Take a second to appreciate that.

Every time we click on your blog post, subscribe to your mailing list, or follow you on social media, we are saying “yes” to you and “no” to someone else. Whether that amounts to a minute of their time or money out of their pockets, your customers have plenty of choices to make every single day and they chose you. That deserves some celebration.

It’s not just about your product.

Of course, no amount of branding or marketing or list-building is going to generate sales or build an audience if your product isn’t serving people well. You need a great product, that’s a given, but it goes beyond that.

Your product may be amazing, but how are you delivering that product to your customers? There are so many details that make up the discovery, purchase and delivery process—actions that need to be taken, messages that need to be communicated, decisions that need to be made. Is it a smooth and simple process? Or could it be confusing? Are any parts of the process personalized? Is your brand consistent throughout?

Whether you’re offering a service or a physical product, this entire process is flooded with continuous opportunities for customer engagement—so many moments where you can take a second to genuinely connect with your customers.

Make it personal.

A personal touch goes a long way. With SamCart, or any other brand for that matter, I never would have expected them to reach out and make that kind of connection. I recognize that everyone is busy juggling all of the responsibilities in their lives, especially digital start-ups. So the message was very much a surprise. It disrupted my day, in a good way, and left a lasting impression.

That should be your goal—leave an impression—and personalization is one way to do just that.

It may look like something entirely different for you. There is no formula for how you should or should not personalize your customer experience. It all depends on who you are, what you offer and how you want to connect.

So what can you do, in your current situation, with the product you have and the customers you want, to further personalize your customer experience?

Share who you are.

Making things personal goes the other way as well.

Do you customers know you?

You can choose the level of intimacy you provide—your customers don’t necessarily need to know how many siblings you have, or your favorite foods (though they might, depending on your business!). But do they know what kind of person you are? What values you embrace?

They should know enough to make a connection—people buy from people.

So let your customers see who you are, give them some insight into how you run your business, or how your product is made. No matter what shape that takes, opening up your world will welcome people in.

As business owners, and people who are developing brands around our passions, we are often being pulled in a million different directions. There is decidedly not enough time in a day to do everything you’re being told to do.

But you literally cannot be in business without your customers, so they should be your priority. Love them well.

And if you’re not sure where to start I’ve put together a short, one-page guide to get you going. Download the guide below.

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