The Secret of Repeat Business:
People Who Love You
By Ross Shafer
companies are obsessed with what their competition. Progressive
Insurance wants to know what Geico is doing. Macy’s wants insider
information about Nordstrom. Ford wants to know Chrysler’s secrets,
and so on. And, because I speak or consult with 90+ organizations a
year my clients assume I have the answer…so they can steal it.
do…and here it is. (Insert drum roll here.) If your customers
love you they will give you more money.
simple, right? Not “high tech” enough for you? Couldn’t apply to
your business because you’re not a customer facing business? Or,
maybe your performance metrics are too sophisticated to measure
something as touchy-feely as “soft skills?” Ah, you must not sell
your goods or services to human beings.
sake of the conversation, let’s say your want to experiment with
this “love” idea. How would you go about it?
Understand that human beings have one emotional barometer: Many
of you make the mistake of thinking your customers, clients, or
patients are in a business relationship with you. Wrong. Customers
expect a human relationship because they can’t tell the difference.
Customers respond to bad service with the same hurt and emotional
triggers they experience in a bad personal relationship. If you
ignore them, they feel unimportant. If you second-guess them, they
feel defensive. If you dismiss them without satisfying them, they
get angry. They can’t help it. Unless they are heavily medicated,
humans don’t have a firewall to protect them from their feelings.
However, the feelings of happiness and cooperation surface if they
feel loved and respected by you. They want to feel understood by
you. We all want to fill our lives with people who treat us well. We
want to see those people as often as possible because they make us
feel good. Customers want to be emotionally connected to you. So,
all you have to do is love them. Loving your customers makes them
want to return…and when they do, they will give you more money.
Loving you means customers can stop dating other companies: Your
customers and clients and patients have a dizzying number of choices
these days. Not only do TV, radio, and print constantly bombard them
- the online options further blur their buying decisions. In fact,
reluctant customers often experiment with several companies before
settling in with their “favorite place to shop.” You want to be the
place they “settle.” Because, when customers finally find a shop,
service, or product they love, what it means to them is that it they
can stop “dating” other companies and commit to you. Feeling loved
by you is a relief to your customers. It makes them feel smarter for
picking you. They can finally stop spending time and money with your
competition and start focusing on you.
Your “internal” customers need love, too: Let’s say you aren’t
in a “customer facing” organization. At some point you’ll have to
talk to someone in your organization, right? A boss? A coworker? The
UPS guy? These people are your internal customers and they need
love, too. Companies who grow “love” their associates. The
competitor’s secret may be that their employees love working
there. They’re happy, content, challenged, respected, and have an
emotional connection with the company. Do you feel that way about
your company? Does your team feel that way? If not, you’re going to
lose good people to your competitor and they are going to take your
customers with them. Lost love, internally, means lost talent and
You can actually quantify ‘loving’ your customers: After one of
my seminars, a man named John Hixon from Sweetwater, Texas told me
he took over his father’s grocery store when his dad passed away.
John found out that the little store had annual sales of about
$250,000/yr but had lost $200,000 during the same period. He decided
to take a leave from his insurance business to liquidate the store.
When he couldn’t find a buyer, John decided to step in and see what
he could do to save the market. He couldn’t afford to renovate or
add new products so he turned to his customers - by doing something
radical – something his dad would never have done. John started
loving the customers. He would stand at the front door and say hello
to everyone. He’d tell them, “I sure appreciate you coming into our
store.” With a twinkling eye he’s say, “We’re small but we’re
mighty.” If they asked for an item he wouldn’t just point them down
an aisle. He would escort them to, let’s say, the oatmeal aisle.
Then he’d explain why he carried that particular brand. Then, after
the customer went through the check out stand, John would be
standing at the door to say goodbye and wish them a nice evening…or
weekend…or holiday. John told me that within 9 months the little
store was on pace to gross $1.5 million! And, the only thing John
Hixon changed was that he started loving his customers. What’s even
more incredible was that during that time, Wal-Mart opened just a
few miles away.
the secret you’ve all been pining for. If people love you they
give you more money. That is, of course, unless you’re too
sophisticated for something as silly as that.
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