Customers are Transactional, Fans are Loyal
“The notion of the customer being a transactional relationship no longer seems to fit. We are now looking for fans, followers and friends”
Times are changing. The word 'customer' conjures up feelings of anxiety, fear, or perhaps statistics and personal sales targets. I believe in many workplaces there is a very much an 'Us vs Them" culture when talking about customers, like a war some companies seem to be battling with customers rather than working as friends.
I believe your whole perspective around sales and service changes when you remove 'customers' from your thinking. A customer relationship is transactional, process driven, monitored, recorded, scored and over analyzed. Hardly very people oriented or caring.
We now live in a participation economy where your success is determined by the strength of your relationships. A brands social community could become the most strategic of assets and a distinctive competitive advantage when it comes to lead generation and retaining customers. Brands that do not foster their social community will simply wilt into the background as they are overtaken by those that do. The eyeballs are in social media channels, if your business is not there will you exist at all in 5 years?
Fans are people that buy from you. Followers or friends are people that might buy from you or have some other interest in what you do. In any case they want to be exposed to your content, share in your adventure and participate in your community. In essence these are all customers, whether or not they spend money with you is irrelevant. Every single one of them is valuable and important to the success of your business.
Creating Fans rather than Customers is far more positive. Customers may not be happy, but they are still a customer. The word Fans gives off a rich sense of positivity, brand love and evangelism. It's a far better goal to be aiming for.