In my last post, I talked about the importance of engaging customers to build a meaningful long term relationship. But I didn’t really talk about how you do this. The best analogy I can think of is dating. You build a relationship using a number of steps:
- You tell your date about yourself — who you are, what you do, why you are a great date.
- Then you demonstrate that you are a great date, creating credibility by showing up on time, and doing what you said you were going to do.
- You get to know your date, all about them, what their needs and dreams are. You spend time with your date. You do it face to face.
- You figure out if there are things you can change to better meet the needs of your partner — Take up their hobby? Go to the gym? Watch their favourite TV Show?
- You try to figure out if you meet enough of each other’s needs. If you do, then you have a relationship.
- Sooner or later, one of you is going to screw up. Then the question is how do you handle it? Do you apologize? Do you figure out whether there were extenuating circumstances? Do you have empathy for the person? Do you fix the problem?
- Over time, your partner’s needs and expectations might change. Are you alert to these changes? Do you change in response?
Often we treat our customers much like our loved ones. We take them for granted. We don’t pay enough attention to them, or spend enough time with them. It’s hard to have empathy for a customer, when we don’t know how they are feeling. And it’s hard to engage a customer, when we don’t know who they are, much less what is important to them.
Is this easy? No. It takes time and money. But if you haven’t spent time listening to your customers recently, you might be looking at a divorce.