The fundimentals of creating intelligent customer relationships
“It is, of course, not possible to state with any practical exactitude what the customer is. But there are several common denominators to be found when we consider the customer in terms of what he is not. These things, I think, are fundamental to intelligent customer relationship and, it may be added, most of them apply pretty well to the vast majority of prospects as well."
I ❤ this quote!
It perfectly describes how a customer focussed business should think about the people they serve – and how lots of companies or their teams actually think of their customers.
Because even if there are people in the business, including some, if not all, of the leadership team that are trying their best to create a customer focussed business, there are often people that just haven’t got the message.
I can look at each point on this quote and come up with an example of both sides that I’ve experienced. I bet you can too. Right?
1. The customer is not dependent upon us—we are dependent upon him.
Sometimes it feels like as a customer ourselves we are dependent on a business that we buy from. They offer us something that we need and we’ve entered into a contract with them – even if that’s just us giving them money in return for goods or services.
Ever noticed that some companies then act like they have you over a barrel?🛢 It can be especially true in B2B where software or services become integral to essential processes and making changes will cost time, effort and money.
But the market place – whether it’s B2B or B2C – is crowded. There are very few businesses out there that have no real competition. Our customers have other options. They chose us. As business owners, we are dependent on our customers. Their custom gives us the ability to pay our bills and our salaries!
2. The customer is not an interruption of our work—he is the purpose of it.
Ever walked into a store and had to wait to be served because the staff are busy talking to each other or on their mobile phones? And then they don’t even acknowledge you. 😠💢
I’ve been in offices and heard account managers irritably huff because one of their customers calls them when they’re in the middle of something else. Sometimes before they pick up the phone. Sometimes whilst they’re on the call! 🤦♀️
How valued would you feel if you were on the other end of that phone call?! Of course there are customers that take more time and effort to serve than others.
The effort can just be bringing yourself to smile when you talk to them. ☺ 💬 Regardless of how you feel about that individual, they’re still your customer. And that’s why you’re here.
3. The customer is not a rank outsider to our business—he is a part of it.
Culture can be a funny thing. Occasionally the sense of team within a company can become a little exclusive. Cliquey almost. That’s when a them and us thing starts happening. ⚔
For face to face, it’s not that the service isn’t good enough, or as a customer you’re not welcomed, it’s that you feel you’re not part of the group. That group could be in a store, on a stand at an exhibition – anywhere there’s a group of employees. You don’t hang around longer than you have to. It’s a little uncomfortable. 😟
Generally though it’s when there’s a disconnect between the business and their customers. They’re so wrapped up in what they’re doing, they forget to check in with their customers.
And I don’t mean picking up the phone and having a quick chat – although that’s a good thing to do! I mean finding out what matters to your customers, what’s keeping them awake at night, what they want to achieve, what they like and don’t like about your business.
Bringing your customers into the business. Giving them a seat at the table – doesn’t have to be literally. Making them feel a part of what you’re creating.
4. The customer is not a statistic—he is a flesh-and-blood human being completely equipped with biases, prejudices, emotions, pulse, blood chemistry and possibly a deficiency of certain vitamins.
With the increase of automation, the use of bots, AI and so on, there’s a lot of talk about humanising business.
This quote is from an article in “Printers’ Ink: A Journal for Advertisers” published in 1941. The temptation or inclination to look at customers as numbers, statistics, revenue sources isn’t new.
Perhaps it’s more prolific as the number of systems that show us our customers as percentages and data points moving between touchpoints, triggering events, and meeting goals continues to grow and become part of our everyday business life.
But each customer account has at least one person behind it. And we need to remember that they’re more than a number. When we do that, we can really start to see things change. 🔥🔥🔥
5. The customer is not someone to argue with or match wits against—he is a person who brings us his wants. If we have sufficient imagination we will endeavor to handle them profitably to him and to ourselves.
Arguing with a customer. Well, that’s not going to create a long term relationship or increase your good reviews. 😡 🗯 💢🤬
Listening to a customer – now that will. Particularly if you’re having a meaningful conversation with them, finding out more about them, what they want, what they like, what they find difficult, what stops them achieving their goals.
That’s like gold dust! That information will help you and your business create new products or services, improve your customer experience, increase your customers’ loyalty and increase your good reviews. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐