We can spend 10, 20, and 30 years building trust with customers. And we can lose it all in 30 minutes. Attracting new customers takes effort, strengthening a connection with the existing one is equally, or perhaps even more critical.
In celebrating #GetToKnowYourCustomerDay, here are five sure-fire tips, often overlooked, that will help you build and strengthen your best approach in attracting customers today and keeping them tomorrow.
SmileSeems so simple, but whether in person or on the phone, it makes such a difference. Scientists have found that smiling on purpose can help people feel better. Just the simple act of putting a smile on your face can lead you to feel actual happiness, joy, or amusement. Smiling on purpose changes brain chemistry. Smiling isn’t just something your face does. It communicates your state of mind. A smile, or the nonvisual sense of a smile for telephone customer service representatives, can be the most significant part of a business transaction. In retail, it can influence people’s perception of a brand and their customer satisfaction. Smiling sets a tone. It establishes a rapport and initiates trust, the cornerstone of every business relationship. This last point is more relevant than ever as we struggle to retain that integral factor in our fast-paced, smartphone-addicted, multitask-driven culture. Technological advances, globalization and new business models have us spending more time working remotely on our devices, which also makes us more remote. So put on a smile and experience the difference it makes for you and in your Customer Relationships.
Ask and don’t make assumptionsWe all know the saying of what happens when we “assume” something. So to avoid becoming that part of our anatomy, we should never assume we know what our customer meant. We need to ask. Clarity is key. It seems obvious, in order to be understood, any form of communication needs clarity. Chat and email are fast-paced mediums, and essential writing values like clarity can often take a back seat to time. The problem, rather than taking a few extra minutes to re-read and vet what you have written, you send it, no one understands it, and you spend more time working out the miscommunication. Clarity is key when dealing with buyers, sellers, existing customers, potential customers, friends, family, you name it. Today’s buzzword is transparency and it’s a good one. According to Wikipedia, Transparency, as used in science, engineering, business, the humanities and in other social contexts, is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. It has been defined simply as “the perceived quality of intentionally shared information from a sender”. Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability. To be transparent requires knowing the facts and sharing them. That’s not assuming you know the facts and sharing them. So to truly create a lasting relationship with your customer then you need to ask and not assume.
If possible, meet the customer where they areThere are two aspects to this saying. In prospecting and trying to acquire new business it can mean the need to be where your targeted customers are. That might be at a trade show or event, at their office, on the phone, via email or on social media. Do you know if your salespeople are in the right places? It is possible that your customers and prospects may be using social media platforms that your sales reps are not currently using for business. We want our sales reps to be in the path of our prospects so they can see us when they need us. That means we need to use all the tools available to do that. We could spend an entire article or book on just that topic.
Meeting the customer where they are can also mean understanding what they want, what they expect and what they consider a great product and experience. We all have our own point of view. That point of view is normally a result of our past environments, experiences, learnings, etc. The problem is that not everyone necessarily has the same point of view as we do. When you are trying to attract and retain customers you need to understand their perspective, not just yours. Zig Ziglar used to say “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” The key to helping others get what they want is in listening, asking questions, gaining insight and then crafting a solution that helps them achieve their objective. Customer Satisfaction is a good thing. Customer Loyalty and Advocacy are great things. When you create Customer Advocacy you are truly hitting a Home Run. That means thinking every day about how you add value, exceed expectations and surprise and delight. Companies that do these things create valuable Brands that withstand the test of time and can charge a premium for their products and services. The only way to get there is to meet your customer where they are and listen to what their wants and needs are. When you do that in business, and in life, you will create lasting relationships.
Know their industryWe should also add know their products, know their business objectives and know how they like to operate. The more you know about your prospects or customers the better you will be at providing valuable solutions that help them get what they want. If you are in Sales that means researching your targeted industry to understand trends, dynamics, challenges, competition, etc. so you can speak intelligently to prospects and identify where you are uniquely qualified to provide a solution. If you are in Account Management and have existing Clients, that means becoming an expert so you can be their Trusted Advisor. The one they immediately think of when there’s a new opportunity or look to for assistance to help them achieve their objectives. In either scenario it means doing your research, keeping up to date, reviewing data for potential insights and asking questions to know their thinking. When your Prospect or Client sees how hard you are working to understand their needs they will appreciate your efforts and you will reap the benefits of your efforts.
Serve othersServing the needs of others well is not just a good business practice, it is also an honorable and noble pursuit. To become great business people and succeed in business, we need to learn to excel in the privilege of providing service to our customers. You’re more likely to succeed, in business and in life, if you’re motivated by helping solve other people’s problems, not just your own. Every “Tip” we have shared today has a common theme. The theme of the importance of knowing and understanding your Prospect or Customer. Succeeding in business is nearly impossible without providing a solution that others find valuable. Serving others means putting someone else’s needs before your own. It means listening and seeking to understand what someone else wants, what their challenges are, what their goals are. It means being a partner, an advisor an advocate. It means caring about what they find important, working to find a solution, owning an issue and being there when there is a problem. If you do these things you will succeed. As Stephen Covey identified in his book “The Seven Habits of Successful People” you must seek first to understand, then to be understood. When you do this you are on the path to Serving Others.