How to make your customer love you

Dear beloved company,

It’s almost Valentine, love is in the air. And because everyone has a shot at everlasting love, businesses included, I want to give you 10 tips on how you can make your customers love you. No strings attached, I just care about this matter.

So let me introduce you to Dr. Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love, based upon his theory “consummate love”, consisting of 3 elements, intimacy, passion and commitment. Why do I look at the theory of love between two people? It’s actually pretty easy. Taking care of the relationship with your customer is very crucial when growing a successful business. Nowadays, thanks to social media, people feel connected to the company because it gives a more human touch which we find so important! We build a personal bond, nurture that bond and turn it into an everlasting customer relationship! That’s basically all we want; but ‘love don’t come easy’ as Phil Collins sang. So I have tried to come up with actions you can take in order to satisfy your customer.

Being customer-focused is very important if you want to retain your customers:

By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator
89 percent of U.S. adults who’ve ever stopped doing business with an organization due to a poor customer experience began doing business with a competitor

Let’s look at the components of love and see how your actions can positively manage an everlasting bond with your customer. Ready to give your customer some love?

The first component of everlasting love is intimacy which, while being a very stable, controllable component, is however mainly an emotional investment in the relationship. How do you personally interact? What tone of voice do you use?

1. Create a bond and connect with customers

As a business you should interact in an honest and personal way; when sending an e-mail, calling the customer or replying via social media, use their name and also tell them yours. This is the ideal way to create a bond and connect with your customer, it’s like calling your long- lost friend at high school again. “Hi Tom, this is Katrien from U-Sentric, I’m calling you because…

2. Customer satisfaction is a key differentiator

“89 percent of U.S. adults who’ve ever stopped doing business with an organization due to a poor customer experience began doing business with a competitor (source)”. Customer satisfaction is an important key differentiator, so trying to keep customers happy is crucial. Respond as quickly as possible to their questions or comments in a polite manner. I’m personally a big fan of the communication applied by KLM. In my opinion they have the perfect social media team on hand. They often adapt their way of speaking to their customer and they always try to go one step further.

To retain customer satisfaction and to keep your customer awake you should offer promotions in order to increase their welfare and the feeling of desire.

3. Be polite

We all want to be handled in a polite manner, so it’s simply appropriate to say thank you to your customer for whatever information they have given you, be it positive or negative. Be kind so that your customer will experience happiness during the interaction. We all have those moments when we want to vent our frustration and annoyance at a company that has sold us a product that doesn’t seem to do what it was intended to do, but in that case it’s tremendously important to try to turn this into a good experience. It’s like arguing with your partner when you feel it’s their fault, you just want to hear them say, “I’m sorry darling, I’ll make sure it never happens again."

4. Keep them up to date and build trust

Keep customers up-to-date of changes to your product range because people are accustomed to certain products and company policy! Customers trust you for the fact that you can provide those products if they need them. If there is to be a change, they have the right to know. By not letting them know of any changes they will encounter a negative experience the next time they go looking for a product… and it takes 12 positive experiences to make 1 ‘wrong’ right again.

5. Keep your promises

Follow through on what you have promised. Be honest about what your customers can expect. If you have set a delivery date or promised to contact them again, do so. They count on you.

6. Respect your customers and they will respect you

Show some respect when talking to your customer. If they are calling Customer Service because of a bad experience try to make them happy again. Even if they get angry or lose their temper be patient. A negative experience with Customer Service is the last thing they need. Negative word-of-mouth spreads much faster. Try to make them feel comfortable so that they are open to share their experience and give you as much information as possible. Explain your position and be honest if you can’t help; this way you can work on a mutual understanding. Below is an extreme example of how a certain Customer Service once handled a complaint. Needless to say, being rude and insulting only hurts you as a company a lot more than it will ever hurt your customer!

7. Be transparent

Don’t be afraid of feedback from your customers, you’ll learn from it. Don’t hide from your clients but interact with them. Have a personal conversation and make them feel welcome. By being transparent you’ll be able to build trust and satisfaction. Offer the possibility to track orders, provide contact details, encourage feedback and be open to their emotions and opinions.

8. You are responsible for their happiness

The customer is always right! Or that is what their philosophy is. It’s important to make sure your Customer Service is behind this, let them know that they have to ensure to do everything in their power to make the customer happy again. Follow up on the client, send them an e-mail one week after receiving a product, ask them to write a review or recommend it to others, give training to Customer Service on how to handle dissatisfied clients. You are responsible for their positive customer experience.

9. Listen to the customer’s opinion

It is pretty obvious that listening as part of intimate communication is important. When engaging in a dialogue with your customer, listen to what they have to say and take into account their concerns. You can also ask for their opinion via UX research and co-creation workshops. Follow up on customer service, in-store and via social media, web communities and e-mail communications. But don’t spam them.

10. Your customer is a valuable partner

Your social media feed and mailbox holds a wealth of opportunities; clients vent their frustrations there or share new ideas. You can easily take up the conversation and value your customer as a partner who offers you ideas. Do something sensible with that feedback.

Within your actions above you need to involve the passion component of love. This is a very unstable component which you cannot control and it requires motivational involvement. Both parties need to have self-esteem, want to be nurtured, feel affiliation and do self-actualization. Sometimes they need to submit to certain situations, but they always want to be taken care of and need social support. Intimacy and passion components interact in a close relationship. Keep your departments motivated to provide a positive customer experience every single time at every single touchpoint.

The third component I want to discuss is ‘the decision to love someone’, which is a short-term decision and a ‘commitment to maintain that love’ which is a long-term decision. Being committed to a long-lasting relationship with your client is essential for getting through difficult periods. This is a stable component which you can control and it involves a cognitive decision. Customer centricity is a strategic choice.

Now that we’ve established how you can form a strong relationship with your customer, we need to maintain it in the long-term and this is the hardest part. By putting UX KPI metrics in place you can measure and evaluate your efforts and closely monitor your customer’s experience. Use these findings to give feedback to your personnel.

Note that a one-way love story won’t last forever, be truly compassionate about your customers. Love them for who they are, not just for the turnover they add to your company.

I hope this will help you in your quest for long-lasting customer relationships.

Lots of love,