It’s time to bring more love into business.
Each February, store aisles are filled with pink hearts, red hearts, chocolates, and love. Email marketing and advertising campaigns put their own clever twist on love. Yet how many companies actually love their customers?
Sure, businesses love acquiring new customers. But what about their existing ones? Think about mobile phone contracts or frequent flier programs. They’re less about love and loyalty and more about the lock-in.
As the CEO of a small company in a rather mature market, I quickly learned that loving our customers would be the only way to make any headway in a competitive field. Any business wants their customers to stay and be loyal. However, we can’t focus on trying to get customers to love us; we can only love our customers and hope the feeling will become mutual.
5 Ways a Your Business can "Love" Its Customers
1. Don’t be afraid of "Love." Love shouldn’t be a four-letter word and we’re long past the ‘feelings aren’t professional’ era. I’m an expressive person by nature. Early on, I may have toned down outward displays of affection, but now I’m well known for ending calls with employees, contractors, and customers with ‘Love You.’
Of course, what’s natural to me isn’t going to hold true for everyone. As a business leader, it’s your job to figure out the right emotional tone to set for your company, department, or brand. Just remember that when an employee or customer is connected with their heart, the end result is always greater.
2. Make sure you know your customers. Business owners and top management should stay as close to their customers as possible, no matter how big their business gets or how much staff they take on. I might be CEO, but I love answering the phone to field customer calls. Talking to customers one-on-one is the best way to truly take the pulse of the market, customer needs, and just how your company is doing.
3. Listen to your customers (even the squeaky wheels). Successful companies believe that their customers possess good ideas. After all, there's no better source to tell you how you’re doing than your customers themselves. And fortunately, with social media, customers are now able to share their experiences and air their opinions louder than ever.
Gather feedback whenever possible and monitor social networks to track real-time issues. Also don’t forget that customers want to know that they were heard, so keep people in the loop on how their feedback was used or why it wasn’t this time.
4. Genuinely want to help your customers. First and foremost, I began my business because I love helping other entrepreneurs. I love the concept of the small business. And I love giving small business owners access to resources they might not be able to afford otherwise. If you don’t feel a genuine connection to your customers, you might want to consider a different line of business. Because it’s that connection to the customer that will keep you going when times are tough.
5. Go above and beyond. Exceeding your customer’s expectations falls on the opposite side of the spectrum from those tricky lock-in or up-sell strategies. The best example here is a pioneer in online retail, Zappos, who advertises free ground shipping, but mails most orders overnight. That’s a company that went from no sales to $1 billion in gross merchandise sales in just 10 years.
At the end of the day, love can be an incredibly effective business tool. Emotion shapes our thoughts, our words, and our actions. So don’t be afraid to love your employees, colleagues, clients and customers. You’ll actually get more back in return.
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