Now more than ever, you can’t just deliver a good product. You need to improve consumers’ lives. We asked six entrepreneurs: How do you strengthen your relationship with customers?

3 min read

This story appears in the September 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

1. Provide expertise.

“We have a mission to help people through guidance, which goes beyond just product. With [our cookware ] Equal Parts, we offer a texting service that allows to have a conversation with a professional cook. Customers can ask for a fresh grocery list, recipe recommendations, or even how to make simple scrambled eggs. This type of interaction creates a deeper relationship, and the customer feels like they’re gaining value beyond a tangible product.” — Nick Ling, CEO, Pattern Brands

2. Create incentives. 

“We have an ambassador program, where we provide our most loyal customers with a platform to create content that is shared on our channels. It transforms them from customers to brand advocates. We are strong believers in the power of community and use our channels as a two-way street for between us and our consumers.” — Parisa Fowles-Pazdro, founder and CEO, Max-Bone

Related: 8 Proven Ways to Curate Your Customers into a Community 

3. Empower them.

“The philosophy of ‘fewer, better things’ is at the heart of everything we do — so we create content and services that match. In 2013, for example, we launched our Lean Closet program: Customers can donate old clothing or accessories to benefit our philanthropic partner, H.E.A.R.T. This way, our customers can live in a ‘fewer, better’ way while empowering women in need.” — Shilpa Shah, cofounder, Cuyana 

4. Entertain them.

“In addition to my own D2C clothing line, Thakoon, I recently launched a magazine and media platform called HommeGirls, with an aim to highlight menswear style for women. It’s a passion project rooted in editorial, my first background. It allows me to be creative and thought-provoking, and create outside of just fashion . It lets my fans — both from the Thakoon line and the mag — see more of what I’m about, more of what I can offer.” — Thakoon Panichgul, founder and chief creative officer, Thakoon

Related: 4 Ways Entrepreneurs Are Getting Customer Relationship Management All Wrong

5. Offer access.

“Instagram is an interactive space for our experts to share guidance on practices and products to support at-home skin-care remedies. We see high engagement on our stories, where our most seasoned and skilled experts and trainers field our followers’ questions. We’re also piloting some other digital services that will allow clients to connect with our team of experts, one-on-one.” — Michael Pollak, cofounder and chief experience officer, Heyday

6. Speak up.

“If you can stay top of mind when your customers aren’t necessarily looking for [you], you’ll be the first person they call when it’s time to make a purchase or do a deal. For me, starting a podcast has provided this opportunity and given me a large platform to speak about what we’re building. It’s even resulted in existing clients looking to get involved from a sponsorship perspective.” — Matt Hillman, cofounder and partner, Cut + Sew