Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m so happy this week’s Customer Care Tip falls right on the official “Day of Love” itself. It’s a time when everyone is just a little more attuned to the topic of emotions – a powerful business topic you know I’m passionate about all year ’round!
There are probably infinite ways to celebrate Cupid’s big day, but most Valentine gestures can be separated into two distinct groups: Those made as a result of going through the motions, and gestures that are sincere.
You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s the difference between:
“Oh, geez, it’s Valentine’s Day. Gotta ask my daughter to pick a card for my wife…”
“Oh, here comes that extra special day to show my honey I love him! Wonder what he’d most appreciate this year…”
The former is a version of “phoning it in.” In business, it translates to telling your team to give “service with a smile” without giving them a reason to smile, or dramatically changing a product or service without checking if that’s what customers really want. Operating this way is taking the path of least resistance, the easy way out – and then some businesses actually expect to be rewarded for what is really a lack of effort, feeling and thoughtfulness!
Sure, going through the motions is movement, but it’s not moving customers to feel the desire to give you their money, repeat business and referrals. That’s because business relationships need the same things all relationships need to succeed: They need the “E” in front of the motion – like I always tell my clients, “Emotion is Energy in motion“ – and the emotions must be POSITIVE and SINCERE.
So what does it take to unleash you and your team’s capacity for loyalty-building positivity and sincerity? In short: You’ve got to increase your “EQ” and not just your IQ. Your emotional intelligence is what will help you deliver on the customers’ needs to feel appreciated, valued, secure, confident, happy, and all the other emotions they secretly wish they could get from the people they buy services and products from.
With that in mind, here are 5 tips for putting an end to the “empty motions” (that can eventually put an end to your business), and creating customer love and loyalty through “customer relationship mastery:”
1. Become conversant in the language of positive emotions. There are a wide range of positive emotions, many of which your customers would love to experience: Happiness, appreciation, the joy of being heard and understood, respected and supported, to name only a few. That’s why creating customer happiness and positive emotions entails a basic set of skills in “Emotional Intelligence;” authors Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves do a great job covering the basics of the language of emotions in their book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0. My www.ReturnOnHappiness.com site is chock-full of information, articles and now even book recommendations. One of my favorite books on creating happiness is available right on the side bar of this tip. How about starting a book club with your team – reading and discussing one book a month? Talking about how you can move from customer service to delivering happiness will broaden everyone’s thinking.
2. Know and work from your strengths. When you know your strengths and consciously work from them when interacting with co-workers, team members or customers, you increase opportunities for positive emotions to take root and grow. When you help team members do the same by listening for and focusing on their strengths (what they are doing right) rather than on weaknesses (what’s wrong), you will build relationships with employees and customers that are resilient, stronger and longer. Starting today, promise yourself that when you hear someone speak you will listen for what’s best in them and where they are strong. Then, give them sincere feedback on their goodness in the form of acknowledgement.
For instance, Mary Jane comes to you to tell you about a difficult call she had with a customer and how she handled it. You listen for her strengths when she is telling the story, then reflect them back to her: “Mary Jane, I know that call was challenging for you. Kudos to you for rising to the challenge! You skillfully brought that customer out of a near rage, dealt with his negative emotions and defused them. By being empathetic instead of defensive, you really won him over. That was great work!” (Pssst. Not sure of what your character strengths are? Find out by taking a fr*e character assessment here: www.viacharacter.org.
3. Keep employees plugged into their unique strengths. As you become savvy in your growing knowledge of positive emotions and strengths, and become proficient at catching employees doing things right, start creating opportunities for team members to get to know and act from their strengths. One of my favorite clients had all their reps take an assessment to discover their top strengths. Then they each wrote their top five strengths on a sheet of paper that they hung outside their cubes: “My name is Erin and my top strengths are…” Some decorated the paper with drawings, pictures or quotes that inspire them or show them their strengths in pictures. Whenever they enter their cubes, they get a powerful, feel-good reminder of what’s great about them – the strengths they can leverage to create exquisite customer experiences. This gives them a sincere reason to smile and be in a positive mindset as they prepare to care for your precious customers. Give people the opportunity to do what they do best!
4. Anticipate changing customer needs. Your customers needs are changing as you read this. Make it your business to find out how! Conduct polls on your website or through social media like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Call a dozen customers a month (that’s just three customers a week) not to sell them anything, but just to talk to them; listen carefully for what’s new and what’s keeping them up at night. Then whenever possible act on what you learn! Being proactive, and a thorough, responsive listener are some of the most powerful and sincere relationship-building techniques I can think of when caring for customers (or your special Valentine)!
5. Spruce up everyday language with positivity! Simple changes in the everyday language reps use with customers can dramatically amp up customer love for your organization. Drop wimpy, negative, going-through-the-motions phrases like: “No Problem…I can try…I’ll see if…No, I can’t…That’s not possible/not the way things are done here…” and the like. Replace them with happiness-generating responses like: “Absolutely!…Certainly… It’s my pleasure…Sure thing…I’m on it… Let’s take care of this right now…I’d be happy to….What I can do is…” Your customers will feel the positive difference and begin to deepen their emotional attachment to your organization – their loyalty. They will feel more confident and more secure that you are sincerely there for them – that you genuinely care about their success and happiness.
My “unwritten rule” for all of these tips: Do them! Be religious about your commitments and consistency when it comes to earning customer loyalty and love. Start now, this Valentine’s Day, by going beyond the hearts, flowers and chocolates to deliver the sweetest of all emotions – positive, sincere appreciation. Employees and customers who feel your organization’s sincere commitment to them will reward you richly with their loyalty, love and yes, over time: Profits. As Ken Blanchard once said, “Profit is the applause you get from taking good care of employees and customers.”
Happy Valentine’s Day!
PS: Enjoy a few “Feel Good” moments with this short video (and great song). It’s one of our all time, big-broad-smiling favorites! Pass it on. www.freehugscampaign.org