Happy Valentine’s Day.
In honor of the day, we’re sending this week’s tip a day early so it lands on your desk with our warm wishes for a day filled with loving intention, many smiles and maybe even a little chocolate!
Customers that love doing business with you will come back, buy more and tell their friends. When they feel valued, appreciated and cared about they form an emotional connection to your company and are more likely to think of you first when it comes time to repurchase. It’s your job to help them “feel the love.”
Now, when we think of love we might think about lovers who whisper “sweet nothings” into each other’s ears. While that may be a good thing in your personal life, in your business life you’d best be thinking about “sweet somethings.”
“Sweet nothings” in business – using wishy-washy language, making insincere promises – mean nothing to customers and can backfire on you, causing you to lose customers and profits.
“Sweet somethings” on the other hand, build trust and rapport while creating positive customer experiences that can give your business a profitable boost.
Here are seven tips for showing the love with “sweet somethings” that mean everything to customers:
1) When you say “yes” to a customer, say it in a positive, joy-building, relationship building way. Words like ‘Certainly,’ ‘It’s my pleasure,’ ‘Absolutely’ or ‘Yes, I’ll gladly take care of that for you’ make customers feel appreciated and cared for – which makes them more likely to buy more from you again. When you use words like, ‘Yeah,’ ‘OK,’ and especially the phrase ‘No problem,’ it turns customers off on a very subtle level. No customer wants to hear the word ‘no,’ which automatically creates the kind of negative feelings that undo customer care efforts. Just remember, positive words strengthen us, negative words weaken us.
2) Build and maintain rapport. The word ‘rapport’ means accord, conformity or harmony, and when you achieve it with your customers, something “magical” happens. When customers feel that they truly connect with you – when they feel understood by you and trusting in you – it increases customer loyalty and your chances of getting referrals. Building rapport begins by asking customers their names, and respectfully referring to them by name throughout the conversation.
Listen carefully to discern if the language customers use is more visual, auditory or kinesthetic – and then use the same kinds of words in the conversation. Visual people use words like ‘focus,’ ‘see,’ ‘perspective’ and ‘view.’ Auditory people use words like ‘hear,’ ‘call,’ ‘discuss,’ and ‘dialog.’ Kinesthetic folks favor terms like ‘touch,’ ‘handle,’ ‘irritate,’ and ‘concrete.’ When you speak to customers in the style they favor, it’s like you’re speaking their language – something customers love and appreciate.
3) Make sure all communications are clear, concise and correct. If a dear friend sent you a card with your name and other words misspelled, it wouldn’t do much to endear you to him or her would it? Use good grammar, use the spell checker, and do a final read before hitting the ‘send’ button – especially if there’s any emotional content in the correspondence (as there usually is when dealing with a customer complaint). ‘Shorthand’ methods like texting should only be used once you have a strong sense of rapport already built and know this is the customer’s preferred method. Err on the side of formality until you get to know someone.
4) Ask one question of customers that will enable you to get to know them a little better. The question might be about a favorite hobby, vacation spot or food, or perhaps a question about their business goals. It both shows that you’re interested in and care about them, and it gives you some rapport building info you can use in the next conversation. Even those you’re closest with appreciate it when you show an extra interest in them by asking them about themselves – and they always feel special when you remember what you learned.
5) Smile! Whether you take care of customers in person or on the phone, a smile is essential. Smiling releases “happy hormones” (like endorphins) that are actually good for you – and when you feel good, your customers are bound to feel great when they deal with you.
6) Give customers your undivided attention. Have you ever walked into an office and been ignored by the person at the front desk? Ever have your groceries rung up by a cashier who paid more attention to her friend at the next register than to you? Ever speak to someone on the phone while the person was checking emails and talking with her assistant? These experiences have become far too common for customers. Some people who are supposed to be helping customers are either multi-tasking, distracted, clueless, self-absorbed, or poorly trained. Make it your intention to be different and stand out in the sea of mediocre and poor service that is so common today.
Make eye contact, use active listening skills, positive body language, and engage wholeheartedly in communications. It’s all about making customers feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated.
7) Follow through and follow up. Ever have someone break a promise to you? The feelings you experience in those situations – hurt, disappointment, let down – are the same feelings customers experience when you don’t “close the loop” on all interactions. Do what you say you’re going to do, and then let customers know you did it. This builds trust and fattens your “emotional bank account” with your customers.
William James, the American Philosopher once said that a human being’s deepest need is the need for appreciation. There are dozens of ways, small and large that you can show a customer you appreciate his or her business – this teaches seven simple little “somethings” that can, when added together, have a big impact on your relationships and your bottom line. Put them into practice today.
Remember what I always say, “If you’re not romancing your customers, who is?”sm
Happy Valentines Day,