This post was originally published on Sept. 2nd, 2016 on Medium.
I’m a big fan of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, and I’m really excited about its return for Season 3! I’ve learned so much from watching top chefs talk about their restaurants and the experience they try and emulate for their diners.
Now running a restaurant isn’t easy, just like running an advocate community isn’t a walk in the park. It takes heart, persistence and leadership to not only put out really good food (content) but to also get people coming back consistently.
I wanted to share 5 tips I’ve learned from watching the show and how it can help you manage your advocate community.
1. First impressions are everything
When people walk into a restaurant they are normally greeted by the host, and they observe the decorations in the room, the chairs and the silverware. It’s the small intricacies that make dining important and it’s the same with your community.
When people join your community, they’ll want to poke around and see if this is right for them. They’ll make a judgement within the first five minutes to discover if this is a place they want to spend their time, money and effort. Will they feel special, are they pulled in by the discussion thread topics or are they interested in the rewards you share?
When I monitor my community, I send new members an individualized thank you email to let them know how much I appreciate having them there. It’s all about rolling out the red carpet, holding the door open and letting customers know they’re coming into our home.
2. Keep an open kitchen
What I love about dining out is watching the chefs or bartenders work in the open. There’s a beautiful dance with ballet like precision if you watch them close enough. It’s less of watching a monkey at a zoo but a performance of how people think, move and react when they are completely visible.
The same goes for your advocacy marketing program and building transparency for your brand. Show them your kitchen and where you work. We posted a challenge for members to post a selfie at work with their stations or social insight “war rooms” to create more visibility. Transparency builds trust, and that’s key for an effective community; you want them to trust you and feel comfortable.
3. Surprise and delight service
A good maître d knows what customers want and when to deliver. They can predict your needs before you even know what you wanted and can deliver an experience unmatched by anything else. I once heard a story from a friend who valet parked his car at a nice Italian restaurant on a date. Upon returning to his car, he noticed a box with a bow that said “Thank you for dining with us,” and inside were two chocolate truffles.
Rewards are like dessert: they’re that sweet experience to end the meal and leave the customer thinking about you long after they’re done.
When a customer tackles a tough challenge, makes an interesting observation or just points out a flaw in your product, reward them. Show them you care and how much their attention to detail is valued in building a community. We ask for our customer birthday and favorite flavor cake, so we could send them a sweet surprise on their special day.
4. Open up your chef’s table
At a fine restaurant, the chef’s table is the best seat in the house. You could be sitting in the kitchen feeling the rush of the action and have full access to the chef for the evening.
Your company’s “chef” is your CEO, so give customers a seat at the table and access to your executive team. Offer insider looks at life at your organization, tips from leadership or even exclusive rewards like lunch with the CEO. Remember that not all advocates are looking for monetary rewards, but could be driven by access to your organization and influence.
5. Curate their experience
Just as in dining, not everyone is ordering the same dish. You have picky eaters, vegetarians and even those folks who are gluten free (gasp).
When segmenting your customers by personality or motivational driver, think about those who really gravitate towards certain sections and make sure to target your marketing asks accordingly. Look out in your virtual dining room and create a menu that fits their needs.