How to craft incredible, lasting relationships with customers...all from the road
Saying Hello From My “Not-So-Typical” Day At The Office
I haven’t really had a traditional ‘home’ since 2015.
For the last six years I’ve been living on a sailboat just north of New York City, and for 2 of those years I’ve been working from the road riding across the USA on an old BMW motorcycle.
Taken somewhere in Florida. My laptop is strapped somewhere to that pile of nomad gear on the bike...no idea where, though.
Simultaneously with this traveling, I created 2 of my own software products and ran the customer service for a handful of clients and customers.
Despite not owning a television (or a bed for that matter), living out of waterproof duffel bags and cooking most of my meals in the kitchens of strangers, customers still came first. However “unconventional” I choose to live, I can’t neglect the responsibilities I have to those customers.
The reality is -- people don’t care if my boat is leaking or my tire is flat. They’ve paid for a service and they (justifiably) expect it...just like I would.
So when I created my first SaaS product in 2017 called ‘Funnelmappy’, I knew that there would be challenges assisting and servicing customers from the road.
However, I also knew I had a secret weapon.
One sure-fire way to take the edge off any customer service hiccups? Develop a great relationship with my customers from day one.
And that’s what I started doing. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
My OLD Way Of Creating A Great First Impression
When I first started out, I have to confess, I thought my approach was pretty unique. But those smart guys at Bonjoro figured it out way earlier than I did. LOL.
A great way to crush the first impression?
Short, personalized videos to new customers that jumpstarted conversation.
In fact, Bonjoro put out a great guide on creating an entire video marketing strategy...complete with some great statistics on why video is so effective.
But at the time, and without knowing these numbers, I just ‘felt’ like it was the right thing to do. A short, personalized video was unique and memorable.
So at first, I did everything manually.
I used YouTube, recorded myself, uploaded to my channel, copied the link and then emailed (or messaged) that link to the appropriate party, anxiously awaiting their delightful response sure to explain how no one has ever made them a video like that before.
Then I found Bonjoro...and this outreach got a lot easier.
I was thrilled to be able to focus on the content instead of connecting all the tech!
That’s when I could really start letting my personality shine...and I started figuring out what worked (and what didn’t).
Here Are My Top Tips For Creating Great Relationships From The Road
Of all the important things I’ve learned about life, creating a great relationship always starts with a great first impression. I use tools like Bonjoro to create great experiences that pay off in the long run.
Because remember: At the end of the day, people are people.
The majority of folks do business (and continue that business, of course) with people they like.
So let’s take a look at a few specifics on how I begin building customer relationships that stick.
1. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
In fact, I’d say the simpler the better.
“Relationships” are about being able to relate. It’s easy to relate to the little things in life. Those small details like songs, clothes, family, or food? That’s what makes us human.
Sometimes I would just talk about my day to a new customer and let them know what I was up to.
I would sit down, record a Bonjoro video and let them into my world...both the good and the bad. It gave people something to remember and they would usually include that in their response emails.
Here's an example video I shot with Bonjoro to give you an idea how this looks in real life:
Put it into practice: Write down what you do every morning. The more boring, the better. Then think about why you do it and ask your customers if they can relate. I bet they can.
2. People value humor (but never expect it).
Let’s face it. When you’re a software company the last thing people expect is for you to be funny. I wouldn’t try to become a stand-up comedian, but an honest attempt to make a joke or bring a lighter side to a situation?
That stuff goes a long way.
When I would reach out to people, I would usually bring up something humorous about where I was at the time.
For instance, Key West is an island where there are roosters everywhere. So I would tell people if they heard one, they were coming for me...as these ‘gypsy roosters’ would roam the streets like gangs. Here's another video I shot with the Roosters crowing away in the background:
That always got a response.
Even though life moves fast, people just want to have fun. Use it to your advantage!
Remember, your customers have their own stuff going on. Humor makes it easier to think about tough stuff, like change. Also, they just want to have fun. Secretly, we all just want to have fun.
So throw in a joke. Embarrass yourself. Be cheesy but don’t over do it. I promise you’ll start the relationship off on the right foot.
Put it into practice: Wherever you are right now, if you’re reading this on a bus, or in a coffee shop, or in your office....look around and ask yourself a question. “What is funny about this situation?” Or as my stand-up comedian friend Christine O’Leary says, “find the truth, identify the problem, and describe the feeling.” That’s all comedy is. Truth, problem, feeling.
3. Remember there is a human behind that email address
When your business is primarily online, it is easy to forget that behind that email address is a person. Someone who loves something, has lost something, and is afraid of something.
That’s why I felt so fortunate to travel while I was building these software products. I couldn’t ignore the human element.
Take all of these people, for example.
I stayed with strangers on my travels and we developed great relationships. There is no reason you can’t do that on video!
Here are a few pictures of people I stayed with on the road. At first they were all strangers. Then, we bonded and it turns out all of them have their own fears and wants and needs.
Use that stuff. Be human.
In fact, Bonjoro wrote a great article about being human and capturing attention.
It’s called Human-To-Human marketing. And it works.
Put it into practice: Talk to a stranger today. Find out where they’re from or what they do. Being able to talk to people is a skill you can develop quickly, and that sense of ‘ease’ while talking to a stranger will shine through your personalized videos.
4. Let people into your weirdness
Sometimes it may not feel like it, but you have something interesting about you. Chances are you have desensitized yourself to it. But -- trust me -- it’s there.
So my advice is to let people in.
For example, maybe you get a notification to send a new customer a welcome video...but oh crap...you’re at Mardi Gras? Well, tell ‘em.
I would do this all the time (even at Mardi Gras...I love it down there).
Dont’ just say --but show -- that customer how you feel, show them what excites you. Let them know you’re thinking about them even in the midst of all the craziness.
I would send people messages from the craziest locations...like while sailing or from Bourbon Street at Mardi Gras. People loved it!
People connect with that kind of message. Even if they have no desire to go to Mardi Gras, just seeing YOU excited will get THEM excited.
This works, trust me.
Put it into practice: Take something you think is strange or boring from your life and express it to someone else. Up the excitement factor and see what their reaction is.
5. Everyone appreciates an exciting next step
People take comfort in structure. They want to be explained what to do -- but in a nice way.
I would always end my Bonjoro videos with some kind of next step.
- “Take a look at this PDF…”
- “Watch this video…”
- “Sign up for a webinar…”
- Or simply, “Respond to this video and let me know you got it!”
Let people know what to do next. Even if it’s to play some “Par 3 golf” and eat a burger at Chubs Place (one of my favorite spots).
When I would record while on the road, sometimes I would end the video with something like…
“Well hey, it’s great to meet you. My next step is to grab something to eat because I’ve been riding all day. Your next step? Check out this video and tell me what you think. Got it? Ok cool, let’s follow up next week and discuss.”
Put it into practice: Figure out an easy ‘next step’ for different situations and start using it at the end of your videos!
Some Final Thoughts
Everything that I outlined here IS NOT exclusive for software customers.
It really applies to anything.
Any type of job where you are communicating virtually, these ideas will work wonders. Especially if you’re a traveler in 2021 starting off with a good nomad job, looking looking for surefire tactics to differentiate yourself in an unforgettable way.
I’m just so appreciative of tools like Bonjoro that make building customer relationships easier than ever.
Now get out there and put one of these tips into practice!
I’ll see you out on the road, my friends.
About the Author:
Josh Koerpel is a digital nomad living on a sailboat in Key West, Florida. Previously a ship captain and Alaskan wilderness guide, Josh worked for years as a mechanical engineering designer for clients like Disney, Cirque du Soleil, and Metallica, only to begin building his own software products full time from the road while riding across the country on a vintage BMW motorcycle. You can follow his adventures at www.joshkoerpel.com.