A customer only commits if he trusts your brand.
She needs to trust that:
You fulfill your (contractual) promises, spoken or unspoken.
You offer help when it’s needed, and won’t hide after the bill is paid.
You are in it for the long haul.
Now as you are building your brand, you need to gain this trust. You need to convince them you have their best interest in mind. And this takes time.
So before anything, you need to convince people one at the time. Since you don’t have a sales force (yet), this is often done by the founders.
Founders need to lend their personal credibility to get the first sales.
They are basically saying “you can trust me to take care of you”. This works better if said by the owner of the company instead of an employee, who has no skin in the game and could be gone tomorrow.
Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator writes:
“You should take extraordinary measures not just to acquire users, but also to make them happy.”
This means a lot of personal visits, thank-you cards, service calls, gifts or dinners in order to convince your customer that their well-being is important to you.
You are both the founder, the salesman and the account manager – and totally infatuated by your first customers.
This helps a lot. Graham writes: “You can delight a customer with an early, incomplete and buggy product if you make up the difference with attentiveness.”
Don’t worry about the scalability of your efforts yet.
Yes, treating your first customers like your first girlfriend (or boyfriend) costs time, money and energy. It’ll be a full-time job as the brand grows.
But now you are building something. With growth, scalability will be a champagne problem. Besides:
Delighting customers scales better than you expect.
Thank-you notes can be written in between orders, staff can be trained, things can be automated. For now:
Capture the experience of your very first customers in glowing reviews.
Explicitly ask them for it. If they were delighted, they will help. Then publish the review, including their full name, photo, title and company name/logo.