We first met Jolene Loetscher when she served as one of our marketing and PR pros in the post, “5 Successful Marketers Reveal Their Favorite Public Relations Tools“.
While interviewing Jolene for that post, we got to talking about the side business that she and her husband Nate run, DooGooders, a pet waste removal company. In other words, they get hired to go to people’s houses and clean up the owner’s pet’s poop.
Now, you may find the subject-matter unpleasant, but the way Jolene and Nate approach their service business is anything but. From cutesy taglines and sayings to helpful and relevant blog content to fun and engaging design, DoGooders hits every marketing note right, but the thing that really got my attention are the tools they use to interact with their customers.
Finding the Right Tools was Essential
“This is a low-margin business,” said Nate. “Because of that, we need to watch our costs and keep our staff low.”
“This fact,” adds Jolene, “led us to look for efficient and low-cost ways to run the business.”
For the sake of efficiency, and because most of their customers are busy, two-income homes which need quick and easy ways to get things done, almost 100% of DooGooders transactions happen on their site via Paypal.
“Sometimes we don’t even meet our customers face-to-face, “says Nate. “We just get a paid order with an address.”
Because of this hands-off approach, the couple was presented with the problem of how to update each customer when their yard was actually serviced.
“We wanted our customer relations to be high-touch and create loyalty,” says Jolene, “But we also had to watch the time and cost of the effort to be so.”
Two Free Solutions That Work Great Together
The solution they devised was simple, powerful and, best of all, free.
When a customer signs up with DooGooders, they are assigned a DooGooders number and given a location on Foursquare, the popular location-based check-in service.
“For the sake of privacy and safety, we don’t use the exact customer address,” says Nate. “Instead, we use their assigned DoGooders number combined with their street and pet names.”
Each time a customer’s yard is serviced, the DooGooders field service employee checks-in using Foursquare to mark that the job was done.
In turn, that check-in update is posted to Twitter where the customer can see the update by either following the DooGooders’ Twitter account directly or they can look at the DooGooders’ blog page (hosted on yet another free service, WordPress) to see the Twitter updates which appear there live (look at the bottom of the left column).
“Our customers really love getting this notification, “says Jolene. “Not only do they receive confirmation that the clean-up has been done, it feels very personal as if a special message has been sent just for them and really, that’s exactly what it is!”
Two More Business Benefits
Using Foursquare and having the check-in notifications show up on Twitter and on DooGooder’s blog page provide two more important business benefits.
“When we post on Foursquare,” says Nate, “people are notified about our locations being visited. In a way, they has served as good free advertising for us because folks see our name and check our site out online which has led to sales.”
Another important benefit is the ability to extend the high-touch relationships with their customers beyond the notifications.
“We continually write engaging and relevant blog posts which our customers read and comment upon, both on Twitter and on our site,” says Jolene. “The notifications keep them coming back to the Twitter feed or the site and the content keeps them engaged with us and helps build community.”
And, though neither Loetscher commented on this, the fact that their customers regularly are exposed to their Twitter feed and blog site means that they can message about deals and promotions such as, “Bring a friend, get 1 free service” and anything else they can think up.
The Take Away
The take away on the DooGooders’ story is that staying in touch with field personnel and building customer relationships is easier and less expensive than ever. All it takes is the right tools and a bit of creativity.
The approach DooGooders devised can be duplicated easily by many types of service companies who can reap similar benefits; landscapers, home cleaning teams and carpet cleaning services are a few that come to mind.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on using social media and online tools to achieve business success. I can’t wait to see what solutions others think up next.
Do you have a story about creative uses of online software, tools, sites and social media? If so, I’d love to talk with you!
Please use my contact form to get started.