As it appeared in the Daily Nation on February 14th, 2017
I visited a mall on Thika road the first Saturday of February and I was stunned by the decorations all over the hallways and shops. The mall had gone an extra mile to remind its customers that February was here and with it was Valentine’s Day. As I was going on with some errands at the mall, I wondered whether there was any need for malls to put up such decorations whether in February or at the close of the year. Do the decorations add the value? Do they possibly make the customers feel better or even make the customers feel loved? Do customers love the malls more when there are beautiful decorations?
Every smart business’ desire is to have many happy customers. Such customers love to do business with the company. They keep coming back even when they have a choice. They tell others about the company. Like a loyal friend, these customers stick close to the business. How many such customers does your business have? Do your customers love your business or are they sticking close for other reasons?
It is February 14th, love is in the air, and one can witness it as they walk on the streets of Nairobi. However, love in the business world is not a common subject of discussion. What better day than February 14th to reflect on whether our customers love our businesses. If you do not love your customers, could it be that you hate them? If not, are you indifferent about your relationship with them and do not really care? The opposite of love is either hate or indifference. Should that understanding make use choose to love our customers?
As I have often reiterated, customers are people first. They are not just customers or account holders or subscribers. One thing that Dale Carnegie talks about in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is that people are creatures of emotions not logic. Love is considered the most important of these emotions. Both in business-to-consumer and business-to-business transactions, whether interacting face to face or online, we cannot escape dealing with people. Perhaps in the future we will not have to deal with people as artificial intelligence takes root. The robots maybe devoid of emotions. Perhaps then, customers will be in love with the technology that makes up businesses.
As I was reflecting on whether customers love businesses and vice versa, I thought of the need for business to ‘court’ their customers in an effort to build strong relationships through four simple actions. First – Listening more, second – Offering customers the required assistance, third – Valuing the customer and finally through an Emotional connection. These four words make up customer LOVE. It is intriguing to note that putting up valentine day decorations is not one of them. Therefore, if you did not put up any decorations you can still spread the love. These actions need not wait; they can be practiced not only today but every day.
Companies across the globe are getting obsessed with their customers in the same way that some of those dating get obsessed especially on the Valentine’s Day intricacies. Businesses that genuinely love their customers do so not because of their money but because they want to add value to the relationship. Over time, such smart businesses earn their customers’ love and at every interaction, the relationship is cemented. Love your customers at all times and they will love your business!
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy