Recently I had an exceptional experience with a savvy cashier at Kohl’s. If you shop at Kohl’s, you probably know they offer “Kohl’s Cash” back for purchases at certain times. I had earned a sizable voucher to use at a later date, but inadvertently let it expire. When I got to the register the clerk asked me if I had found everything OK.  I mentioned how I had forgotten to use my Kohl’s cash and tried to use it online the day prior with no luck. The clerk explained the website adhered to strict expiration dates, but stores had flexibility and could extend dates a bit, which he did. In my case, my voucher was enough to pay for a pair of jeans that was part of my purchase, and I was delighted. He went on to remind me I probably had a coupon in my email and asked if I had questions about using the Kohl’s app.

Here’s where it gets exceptional: When the transaction was done, the clerk pointed out the online survey printed on the receipt, and asked me if I would please take a moment to go online in the next 24 hours and complete the survey. He told me his name was James, and he was writing it on the slip so I’d remember, and he hoped he had been helpful and made this visit to Kohl’s positive. Although James is one of many associates in this national chain of retailers, he set himself apart significantly by asking for feedback and building his personal brand. Did I go online and complete the survey? Yes. Did I mention how helpful James had been? You bet! Will I look for James next time I shop at that store? Probably. James is now my Kohl’s BFF, why wouldn’t I?

We often create transactions where we are helpful and delight our customers, but most of us don’t ask for recognition to build our brands and our business.  We’ve probably heard a million times to ask for referrals, but do we ask? Many of us are concerned asking for a referral or a review sounds cheesy, but if we have a happy client, why not build our brand through satisfied customers who know what we offer? Restaurants and hotels do it all the time, and cards for Trip Advisor, Yelp, and other referral platforms are a commonplace.  Sharing the love happens more often when we ask for the share.

James followed 2 guidelines: he made sure I had a great experience, and he asked in a way that sounded genuine. We can follow his example by considering who we are asking (clients we have added value for) and asking in a way that sounds natural for us. James knew he had helped me save money and solve an issue that bothered me (my expired coupon). When you’ve found a client who is appreciative or your product or service, ask them to help you build your business.

In sales it might sound something like “I’m so glad we were able to help you with X today. Mary, do you have colleagues/friends who might also need this? Maybe I can help them, too”.   Or,  maybe your ask is geared towards an online review, which might sound like “I’d greatly appreciate if you could take a moment in the next 48 hours to review my work on Google review/Angie’s List/etc. I’ll send you a link with your receipt today”.  You might ask for referrals, permission to follow up in the future, or a number of things that build your business.

Make your ask specific so your customer knows exactly what you are looking for, and make it simple for them, providing cards/catalogs, links to review sites, or copy they can cut and paste where appropriate. You just might make the customer success multiply itself!

How do you ask for help building your brand?