Love Your Customers Today and Every Day
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
- Sam Walton
Love Your Customers Today and Every Day
Ah, February, the month of Love! While winter weather takes its grip on most of the nation, the retailers are taking a grip on our hearts, pandering love in the form of boxes of chocolates, flowers, cards, romantic dinners and jewelry. Believe me, I’m all for this. Expressing love is a vibrant and healthy activity, especially when it includes chocolates and jewelry. Did I mention jewelry and chocolates? I’m also all for a nice spike in sales for retailers.
Triggered, presumably by Valentines Day or perhaps the sugar rush of too much chocolate, you will also see a bizarre phenomenon of business behavior that reaches an all-time high in the last half of the month of February. Suddenly, without warning, businesses you frequent on a regular basis, the same ones that are seemingly ambivalent about your experience with them the other 11 months of the year, will begin to express their love. That very same cashier that in the past 11 months has sullenly totaled your purchases, barely glanced at you, mumbled the price you needed to pay, reluctantly taken your money and slowly handed you your receipts without ever thanking you for your business, is acting in a bizarre manner. In the month of February, this very same person has an obviously seldom used smile pasted across their face and a red heart pinned to their smock. The heart says, We Love Our Customers and has a little smiley face on it. This can be a very scary experience. The smile is there, but the eyes are still not engaged and remain locked in that vague and removed glaze. I suspect the clerk’s lips are shaped into the required slightly upturned position demanded by their manager, as described in the memo from the corporate office – however, what to do with the eyes apparently was never addressed.
In February the business love storm arises quickly and out of nowhere – no Doppler radar of oncoming love, just a thunderous storm of appreciation that unleashes itself during this month, only to dissipate with just a minor trace of activity on the love radar throughout the rest of the year. So grab a bag of candy hearts and sit back and watch the storm. Watch how the businesses you interact with every day suddenly begin to vocalize their appreciation of you, their customer. Take note of what you see. Do you see balloons, do you get a letter in the mail, an e-mail extolling the warmth and care your provider has for you – its special customer? Perhaps they have nice little cookies at the reception desk, a special little bag of sweets, or “because we love you” special pricing, just to show how much they think of you, their valued customer. (If they thought that much of you, why isn’t it the special price all year long?)
So, this February, while you’re munching on candy and riding a sugar high, leverage what you see and use it to your benefit – and the benefit of your customers. While you will witness some bizarre behavior, you will also witness some really good ideas for interacting with customers. Use your sugar-induced energy to design a customer care plan that provides consistent and caring interactions with your customers throughout the year.
Ideas for consistently showing the love to your customers:
Make a list of at least 12 standards of interacting with your clients that will leave them feeling valued. Focus on one of these each month and fine tune your business’ ability to consistently use that method of interaction:
- Train yourself and your team to deal with conflict in a way that leaves your clients feeling valued.
- Standardize phone procedures to ensure a customer is never placed on hold without first seeking their permission.
- Engage with each client by shifting your total attention to their needs, shutting out the other things you feel you should be doing.
- Know what your client enjoys and inquire about it when you talk with them.
- Stop sharing stories about yourself, your vacation, your family and become genuinely curious about your clients’ life experiences.
- Be clear in your communications, avoiding vague commitments or responses to your clients’ needs.
- Have a standard time for responding to your clients’ e-mails and phone messages. Honor that standard.
- Have good Q&A tools by each phone so your team can handle incoming calls without fumbling for information.
- Train your team not to talk their way through an issue on the phone. Your client doesn’t need – or want – to hear what someone is thinking, they just want results.
- Place mirrors by phones and smile before you pick up a call.
- Remember the basics of politeness and genuinely use words such as, please, thank you, you’re welcome. The key is to be genuine!
- Ask, and ask often. Then listen. Ask if there is anything else you can do. Ask if they have any other questions. Ask if their needs have been met. Ask if they have an idea for improving your service. Ask and listen.
Take the challenge and join the ranks of businesses that refuse to descend on their customers once a year armed with forced smiles, cookies, balloons and red hearts. Enter the ranks of businesses that provide consistent, persistent and authentic care for their customers all year long.