How To Fall In Love With Your Customers Again
Michael McFall is the co-Founder and co-CEO of BIGGBY COFFEE as well as author of the Inc. Original book GRIND.
Are your customers and clients pushing your buttons? Do they complain about circumstances outside of your control or demand untenable solutions to unremarkable problems? Do you find yourself complaining about your customers? If so, you need to rekindle the magic, get that sparkly, tingly feeling back and fall in love all over again.
Whether you’re building a software enterprise, importing goods from another country or sustaining a small business, you are bound to encounter difficult and downright frustrating customers. But you know as well as anyone that your customers are the secret to your longevity and sustainability, and their experience with your brand will determine their loyalty and spending patterns for a long time.
So, let’s get beyond talking about good service levels and strong results. Let’s level up and fall in love with our customers all over again. In return, I believe they will, too. I’ve found there are three fundamental keys to good relationships in business and in life:
1. Embrace a hospitality mindset.
Every business, regardless of industry, needs a hospitality mindset. More specifically, companies need to pay close attention to how people feel when they leave an interaction with their business.
For example, I recently had a hiccup when I bought a car. Somehow the bank received the wrong vehicle identification number from the dealership. It was a small oversight, but it created a big mess. The bank assumed I was trying to pull a fast one, but a woman in accounting at the dealership worked with the bank to solve the problem. It required a ton of work for her, and she hardly needed anything from me.
After she solved the problem, she called me on the phone and sincerely apologized. She also followed up with a handwritten note. She was incredibly kind, and her hospitality was unparalleled. It felt like I was dealing with the concierge at a high-end hotel. She turned an error into an opportunity to build lifelong loyalty. And afterward, I was in love with the company.
Emotions play a profound role in peoples’ purchasing decisions and can inspire them to maintain brand loyalty. Case in point: I will never buy a car anywhere else — ever. Creating a culture of hospitality in your organization can be an effective first step to building the customer loyalty for which you have always longed.
2. Treat your customers like your first crush.
Do you remember your first crush? If you don’t remember their name, you probably remember the giddy enthusiasm to cater to their every need or the unencumbered desire to go as far out of your way as necessary to get them to notice you. Just knowing they noticed was enough to make all the effort worth it.
That’s how we need to approach our customers. We need to rise and fall with their every reaction, and we need to be tuned in as if our businesses depend on it (because they do). I believe many leaders are in an unhealthy space with their customers, forgetting their value while becoming frustrated with the relationship. To me, this is backward thinking, as every customer interaction is an opportunity to have them fall in love with your brand. Are you taking advantage of every engagement?
Perhaps your first crush was predicated on an emotional high that empowered you to do more than you ever thought possible. May your customer relationships include that same enthusiasm and emotional commitment.
3. Listen carefully.
When it comes to building customer relationships that last, listening is more important than any other engagement. Challenging customers can make us frustrated and defensive, thus making patiently listening the last thing on our minds. But here’s the rub: I’ve found most people simply want to be heard.
You can demonstrate active listening by repeating the issue back to the other person. For example, you might say, “I want to repeat this back to make sure I understand the issue.” This demonstrates you heard the customer and can go a long way in de-escalating any situation. Oftentimes, you might find nothing else is needed. When you close with, “What can I do to make this right?” I’ve seen a number of customers respond with a variation of, “Nothing really. I just needed to get it off my chest. Thank you for listening.” Follow up with a handwritten card thanking them for the feedback. This will help ensure you are on your way to establishing a lifelong, fulfilling customer relationship.
The Power Of Love
Loving, caring, beautiful relationships in life are all built on the premises above. If you treat people well, cater to their needs and listen to simply understand, you can build the foundation for a successful relationship. Isn’t that what you are trying to create with your customers? If so, employ the three strategies above and watch your customer base swell and thrive as people fall in love with your brand — and you fall in love with your customers all over again.
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