Business owners who want to create sound ventures that survive in challenging times and thrive in easy times should consistently endeavor to create raving fans out of their customers. If your customers like — or better yet, love — your business, they’re going to give you their patronage and also happily share their glowing recommendations with others. But, how do you turn customers into raving fans?
While there are several key components, the best way to create raving fans out of your customers is to first create raving fans out of your team members. They’re the ones who interact with your patrons and deliver customer service. They control the quality of the products and services you provide. If your team members don’t trust, respect, like and appreciate you, your business will suffer due to decreased customer satisfaction.
So how do business owners and managers create raving fans out of their team members?
People want to feel valued and appreciated. Don’t you? Praise your team members openly for a job well done. They aren’t going to be perfect. But if they give their best, recognize their efforts so they know you value and appreciate them. Outstanding leaders offer praise and recognition. Other ways to show your appreciation of your team members is with spiffs, bonuses, trips, trainings or education opportunities they want to attend — and raises. When a member of your team is on time, does consistently high-quality work, improves their skills and abilities and treats your customers with the utmost regard, reward them accordingly. Otherwise, they’ll go to work for another business and turn its customers into raving fans.
People want to be liked and accepted. This is a basic human need. You treat the people you like very differently from those you don’t like. When you like people, you take an interest in them, build relationships and care about them. They know it. They also know when you don’t like them. Your team members aren’t merely assets, resources or cogs in a wheel. They’re human beings with lives, challenges, hopes and dreams just like you. Take the time to get to know your people. Team members who’re treated this way have a real sense of loyalty and commitment to the business and customers it serves. When people feel cared about, they have the tendency to return the favor.
People want to feel important. They want to know they matter and contribute something of value to the team. Creating this feeling in your team members is as easy as involving them in the decision-making process. If you’re truly running the company and they’re working in operations, your team members likely will be aware of things you aren’t. Ask for, listen to and really consider their suggestions as you make decisions and implement changes. This doesn’t mean you will use or take action on every suggestion. But it does mean you think enough of your team members — and ultimately your customers — to get their perspective and implement their great ideas when and where you can.
On average, people will work 104,000 hours of their waking lives. This means a significant portion of their lives will be spent away from family and close friends. It’s important to create a work environment that functions like a second family, because that’s really what it is. In a strong and mutually beneficial family situation, individuals are valued, cared for, supported, encouraged and rewarded. People in these types of situations thrive. The same is true of team members in a similar work environment.
Team members who are treated well are typically more engaged, motivated, caring, loyal and willing to go the extra mile for customers because the business owner does the same for them. Turnover decreases, efficiency and productivity increase and sales are captured, not lost, in this business model.
When your team members are your biggest fans, they create raving fans of your customers. Happy customers are repeat customers, they typically spend more of their hard-earned money with you and constitute a great source of referrals.
Customer loyalty starts at the top — with the business owner. Who you are and how you treat people in the process of doing business will be the ignition point for customer satisfaction, loyalty and overall business success. As you begin to involve, value, care for, recognize and support your team members to a greater degree, the quality of your business will rise right along with them.