As consumers, we gravitate towards companies that provide solutions to our problems, towards individuals we trust and businesses that share in our core values and belief system.
Equally important, we choose businesses that make us feel special, like we are more than just dollar signs that feed their bottom line. That’s why it’s not enough as a business owner to simply have a purpose. You must commit to it to prevent any doubt in the customer’s mind that you are authentic, the real deal, what they see is exactly what they get. Faking it for the sake of getting the job will only hurt you and your business. Customers know if you’re genuine in your concern for their well-being or if you’re just going through the motions.
Will your commitment to your purpose assure that you will always close the sale?
Sorry, but no. But when you do succeed, there won’t be any misconceptions on the part of your customer as to what they can expect from you. And, if they choose your business over others, you’ve achieved the first steps in creating a lasting, trusting relationship with individuals who will become your greatest asset in acquiring future business. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, on average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
So when you present yourself to your customers and potential customers, what do you want them to see?
This question is not directed as much to your physical appearance as it is to your persona and your character. What are your strengths and weaknesses? How focused are you on being creative and an innovator in your area of expertise? Do you invest in improving your skills and talent? If you claim to be a “professional,” how do you project that? Are you quick to blame others when thing don’t go as you’d like or are you pro-active in finding solutions so you’re not placed in those situations in the future? How do you approach challenges and how well do you overcome difficult situations? How willing are you to accept that being the best is a journey and not a destination? Are you capable of being honest and transparent to a fault? More importantly, what measure of respect do you give to your customers and to their wants and needs?
Are your customers nothing more than dollar signs or do you treat them as people?
I know you may be puzzled by why I asked that last question but it’s one that seems to get overlooked by so many small businesses. They forget that customers are people, first. Any business with customers is in the “people” business. That should be made into a sign for every office wall. Yes, we all want those “people” to become our “customers” or “clients” but the road to making that happen and to assuring their on-going happiness on their journey with you will be far easier if you treat them as “people,” first.
So what exactly does that mean? It means that when you interact with a customer are you talking at them or with them? Are you capable of engaging in a conversation instead of a sales pitch? Are you really listening to what your customers have to say and responding genuinely—as one person would to another—as people who have a shared interest would speak with one another—not afraid to just be yourself?
Always remember the customer experience is based on emotion, on how you make your customer feel.
Are you making them feel like “just a customer” or another number in the queue? Or, are you demonstrating an authentic, vested interest in achieving their goals? In other words, are you working with or for your customers? There is a huge difference.
According to a survey conducted by Genesys Global Survey, by far the most requested improvement from customers was “Better Human Service” from the companies they do business with. In another survey conducted by the worldwide management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, respondents noted that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.
Call me crazy, but I contend that the “WOW!” customer experience won’t come from simply treating your customers as human beings. Say what? Anyone in any industry that solves a customer’s problems or helps them overcome challenges is in a creative business. Those customers come to you for your creative expertise. You provide creative solutions that bring their ideas to fruition and that will make their lives better, easier—perhaps more productive. That give and take is called collaboration. Collaborators do not differentiate themselves with different titles. They share in one—creative partners.
The term creative partner changes the dynamic of the relationship you have with those you’ve always called customer.
Creative partners share an equal ownership and a mutual buy-in towards success. Partners are trusted, respected and provide a sense of security. If you think of yourself as a creative partner to your customers as opposed to a retailer or service provider, it also impacts the way in which you do what you do, as well. A job transforms into a creative endeavor that provides opportunities for you to maximize your talent and skill can, consciously or subconsciously, improve the way you go about your day-to-day routine.
Your collaborative mindset will make you more aware (in real time) of how your customer views the customer experience you are delivering. By immediately making any necessary adjustments to the experience you’ll also provide an unprecedented “WOW!” factor that your customers—your creative partners—will spend more with you to enjoy, again, and will enthusiastically refer to their family and friends.
As always, I welcome your questions and feedback. Feel free to reach out to me through the email address that follows.
This article authored by: Ron Ruth | Keynote Speaker, Customer Experience Design Consultant & Coach, Founder of the #Inspiramaginativity Institute.
Learn to speak fluent “WOW!”—the language of high-paying customers who will also become your most loyal, raving fans. Contact Ron to speak at your upcoming event or to provide a special, Customer Experience training session for you and your team – email [email protected] or call (816) 224-4487.
“Ron’s presentations are full of the kind of energy and enthusiasm that keeps audience engaged and wanting more. And, his inspiring, imaginative and creative ideas for helping business owners and their teams ‘WOW!” their customers and remain top of mind, makes him a highlight of every conference.” – Rick Brewer, WeddingBusinessMarketing.com
“Ron Ruth has been an industry advocate and trainer for small business owners with our training team for nearly 10 years. Ron has shown a great grasp of understanding what it takes to move a business to the next level with engaging sales approaches, creativity, and customized outcomes based on the clients. ” – John Young, Publisher, Disc Jockey News