The other day I walked by a store that had recently opened in my neighborhood and there was a sign in the window that read, “We Love Our Customers.”
I thought that was a pretty bold statement since they were new and didn’t know their customers, and they certainly didn’t know the picky lot who are my neighbors. As I became fixated, as I often do with a new business that I might patronize, I wondered how they would show this love—after all, it’s a declarative statement and an even more serious emotion.
Now for me to become a new customer I don’t need to be loved—at least not at first. Acknowledge me, learn my name, get to know my preferences, and show me that you care. Then I might start to feel the love, and in return I will show it to you. This sounds a lot like dating, but then again aren’t there parallels in building all types of relationships?
Falling in Love
Remember that intense feeling the last time you fell in love? All of the things that you discovered about the other person, being wooed by them and little by little, and then falling for them? Do you recall that once you were there, you needed to shout it from the rooftop and tell everyone you know? If only businesses could get us there!
In today’s competitive, fickle climate, what business or industry would not want their customers to love them and shout it from the rooftop, or at least on social media networks? Isn’t that why companies spend time and effort to develop unique, distinguishing cultures to connect with their customers and team members to win them over? It’s more than love and loyalty—it’s about advocacy.
A Love Affair Creates Advocates
Not only do advocates love us and tell other people about the love affair, but they also give us feedback and suggestions. More importantly, they are much more forgiving and understanding because of the relationship. They are our biggest fans, our best form of advertising, and in turn we take care of them and continue to strengthen the relationship.
Hire People Who Are Easy to Love
So, where does a new business or company trying to reinvent the customer experience start? A new mission statement? With the company values? By building a better mousetrap than the competition? No! You must start with your team—the people who touch your customers every day. First, look at how you are connecting with those who you are trying to show love. Just like on a first date or introduction, it starts with their first impression and how we begin to build that precious relationship. Before you proclaim that you love someone or a customer (verbally or with bold signs like my dry cleaner), take the time to build upon that first impression and develop a strong relationship.