L-O-V-E. Countless songs, poetry, books, plays and movies have been written about love. And why not? Love is universal. And, as humans our want and need to be loved is just as strong as our need to love others. Love is rewarding. It’s comforting. It makes us feel valued, special, important and happy.
Although it may seem like an odd stretch, these are the exact same emotions we want our customer’s to feel through the customer experience we deliver in our service and retail businesses.
The emotion of “love“ is often used to describe everything from how we feel about our mate, the last movie we saw, our new car, to how we feel about the latest Starbucks concoction. But it can also apply to how you feel about your customers and how they feel about you.
The cool thing about love is that it has a trickle-down effect. If you truly love your customers, your work will reflect that love and your customers will be more inclined to reciprocate by loving you back.
A good part of what I learned about the value of loving my customers was from observing my dad.
When I was still in high school, my father made a career change. It was a bold and risky move because he was in his early fifties. He had spent most of his life as a husband and father, providing for his family as a delivery man for a local bread bakery. But in the early 1970’s he changed professions and accepted a position as a clerk and stocker at a grocery store that was owned by a large, national chain. Because of his excellent work ethic and his incomparable people skills (two traits I worked hard to emulate), my dad was quickly promoted to management.
My dad had a smile that could light-up a room and he was sincerely happy to see every customer that came into his store. He greeted many of them as they came through the door as friends and he knew a good many of them by name. It wasn’t uncommon for him to stop whatever he was doing to focus his attention solely on his customers—asking not just about their well being, but about their families as well.
My dad treated every customer with the same courtesy and respect whether they came into his store to buy a loaf of bread or to do a weeks’ worth of shopping. Money played no part in his relationship with them. In his eyes, every customer was special.
Some of my dad’s customers would even drop in, not to shop, but just to say “hello” and to ask how he was doing. A good many of the customers who shopped at my dad’s store did so just because my dad made them feel valued and welcome. He was even known to drop in on the homes of his elderly customers if he hadn’t seen them in a while to check in on them and make sure they had the care, food and over-the-counter medicines they might need.
My dad had no formal training at delivering “WOW!” customer experiences. That terminology didn’t even exist at the time. The skill came naturally to a man who also came from what was known as the “greatest generation,” where relationships were never taken for granted and where giving a helping hand was done without fanfare and with absolutely no strings attached.
Even after he retired from the grocery business in the early 1990’s, he continued to work at the store part-time. I believe it was in large part due to the relationship he had with his customers. He wasn’t in a hurry to give that up.
When my dad passed away in the mid 90’s, my sister and I were overwhelmed by the crowd of customers who came to his funeral to pay their respects. You see—to them my dad was not just some guy who worked at a grocery store, he was a friend who they had come to know and love because my dad had shown genuine love for all of them. In my opinion, he wasn’t just a great dad, he was the ultimate role model for how, even in the world of business, love most definitely breeds love.
“It turns out that caring for people is a useful shortcut to trust, which leads to all the other things that a growing organization seeks.” – Seth Godin
Courtesy of the business lessons I learned from my dad, here are five ways to deliver the type of “WOW!” customer experiences that breeds love between your customers and your brand.
1). Be Personal. Greet your customers by name and know everything you can about each of them— from their wants, needs and expectations to the little things that make them happy and then set out to do just that.
2). Be Accessible. Your customers are never an inconvenience. Take time to reach out to them on occasion to check on their “well being” and remind them that you are happy to be of assistance to them any time they need it.
3). Be Genuine. Your customers can tell if you really care about their happiness or if you’re faking it. Look them in the eyes and listen with intent when they speak. They may just say something that will allow you to solidify their relationship with you even more.
4). Be Transparent. Nobody likes to be misled or kept in the dark about issues that affect them. Don’t be afraid to let your customers know if you don’t immediately know the answer to one of their questions, but let them know you will find out. And, if you’ve made an error, be ready to apologize and make it right. Trust is crucial if you want the relationship to last.
5. Be Gracious. Always say “please” and “thank you.” I know that should go without saying, but how many times have you encountered an employee that failed to thank you for your business? If you’re able to answer the question, then you’ve noticed. Kindness and gratitude for a customer’s business is the ultimate way to make them feel appreciated for the long term.
In the end, a shared loyalty creates an emotional connection where customers will more likely feel a subconscious need to repay an unselfish gesture by sharing their experience with a friend or by continuing to do business with you—and it’s the reason loyalty is so valuable to a business.
You know the statistic. It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current customer.
If customers feel that they are getting excellent value, quality and service from you and they feel a connection to you and your brand—a connection laced with a little love—they are less likely to leave you for the competition.
How do you show love for your customers or clients? Please share your stories in the comments.
For a limited time, request a complimentary, Customer Experience assessment for your business. Simply email me at Ron@RonRuth.com and we’ll schedule a Zoom call at a time convenient for you.
This article authored by: Ron Ruth | Keynote Speaker, Customer Experience Design Consultant & Coach, Founder of the #Inspiramaginativity Institute.
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