Our culture reveres couples.
Year after year, we flock to movie theatres and bookstores to ravenously consume the next Nicholas Sparks or People magazine and pine over the romances we find there.
Noah and Allie
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend
… You and your customers?
As a small business owner, the idea of building a love story with your customers is probably just as intriguing as a romantic love story. Wildly successful brands like Apple and Starbucks cultivate an almost romantic attachment with their customers.
So how can you do it?
Be Present, Authentic, and Kind – Just like an romantic partner, your customers want to know you’re fully present and in the moment when you’re with them. They want your full attention, proof that you’re treating them as they deserve to be treated.
When you talk with customers, be it in person or on the phone, be all there. Give them undivided attention and an authentic interaction. Don’t think of these conversations as a business talking to a customer. Put a little of yourself into the exchange, and let customers get to know you as you get to know them.
And above all, always be kind.
Go To Any Length To Make Them Happy – Whether we’re talking about a partner or a customer, a lot of their desires are the same. They both want you to show your appreciation for them. And they appreciate when you go the extra mile to make them happy.
As Marvin Gaye taught us, don’t let any mountains, valleys, or even rivers get in the way of wow – ing your customer. Always give that extra little effort…be it a free gift, placing a special order, or rewarding their loyalty – to ensure customers are happy with your business.
Be Accessible and Listen – One of the worst things in modern relationships is ghosting. When the person you’re dating just up and disappears…they don’t answer phone calls or texts and you have seriously no idea if they’re even alive.
Don’t let your business ghost customers. No matter what they need, make it a priority to always be available and make sure customers know how to get in contact with you.
When they do, don’t just sit there and play with your pen, be attentive and actually listen to what they’re saying. Real customers are your most valuable source of feedback, and they can help you solve key problems in your business and learn to better serve your market.
Be Honest and Trustworthy – This is a pretty obvious one. No one enjoys being lied to or feeling as if they can’t trust the person they’re working with. Be transparent about how you do business and what you can and can’t do. If you mess up (everyone does sometimes), own up to it. Admit your mistake and work hard to fix it.
Nothing drives the customer away like corporate doublespeak, so just be honest and forthcoming about all of your business dealings.
Cultivate A Long-term Relationship – If there’s one thing the Tinder generation could stand to work on, it’s cultivating a relationship that stands the test of time. In the business world, the benefits are obvious: higher customer lifetime value, referrals, lower marketing costs, you name it.
Once again, the steps to making a relationship last are the same for both romantic and business relationships.
Show appreciation. Be sincere, send handwritten Thank You notes, and reward customers for their loyalty.
Anticipate their needs. As your business grows and evolves, so will your customers and so should your relationship. Make an effort to anticipate what your customers will need next, then give it to them.
Be supportive. A+ customer support is every bit as vital as emotional support in a relationship. Be available to customers who have difficulty using your product and empathetic about their struggles.
Tackle fights head-on. Like any romantic partnership, bad days come with the territory. While you should always try to do right by your customers, it’s impossible to be perfect all the time. Acknowledge your mistake when you slip-up, be understanding when customers are frustrated, and work to make it right.