FreshBooks is a billing web application that allows people to send, track and collect online payments. I don't use FreshBooks (I generally have no one to invoice) and I don't know much about the Ontario, Canada-based company, but judging from their web site, which features no less than 15 testimonials on the front page from "happy users," it seems apparent that customer service is important to them.
Yesterday we were tipped off to an interesting blog post from a technology company in Fiji called Oceanic. A Freshbooks customer for nearly 2 years, Jonathan (whom we gather works at the company), lamented on the Oceanic blog about a day last April when the FreshBooks team was crooning over two new flavors of Triscuits: Rosemary and Olive Oil, and Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil. "I can't believe how good these taste," wrote Mike McDerment, of FreshBooks.
Bummed that the new snack cracker varieties were not available in his tiny island nation, Jonathan posted a comment to the FreshBooks blog threatening -- in jest -- to cancel his FreshBooks subscription if the company kept posting about mouth watering delicacies that were unavailable to him. Yesterday, many months after the initial post on the FreshBooks blog, Jonathon returned to his desk from a morning meeting to find a package air mailed from Canada. Inside the parcel: two boxes of Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil Triscuits (the tastier of the two flavors, according to FreshBooks).
"I'm tempted to go on and on about the social implications of people just doing nice things for the sake of doing them," wrote Jonathon on his company's blog, "but I'll refrain from that and simply write: FreshBooks, you've got a customer for a life and yet one more person to sing your praises to the masses."
FreshBooks obviously understands one very important part of building viral buzz for your company: keep your customers happy and they will evangelize your products. That doesn't mean giving in to every feature that anyone requests, and it doesn't even mean always agreeing with your customers -- the old aphorism that the customer is always right, isn't always, well, right! But doing the little things that allow you to form a connection with your customers on a personal level can score you a lot of capital with them. Sometimes, gaining a customer for life is as simple as sending a box of crackers overseas.