When your customers like — or better yet, love — your business, they’ll not only give you their patronage, but also share their glowing recommendations with others. Business owners who want to create enterprises that survive the challenging times we’re in right now and thrive in the easy times should consistently endeavor to create raving fans of their customers.
I recently talked with a business owner who was proud to share positive feedback from several new customers. They told him the other businesses they frequented before the coronavirus pandemic dropped the ball with customer service. They went on to say that they felt respected, cared for and welcomed by his team members and would now do business with him exclusively.
The most effective way to create raving fans of your customers is to first create raving fans of your team members. They 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 appreciate, like, respect and trust you, your business will suffer.
How do business owners and managers create raving fans of their team members? Consider three things:
People want to feel valued. Don’t you? Now more than ever, praise your team members for a job well done. They aren’t going to be perfect. But if they give their best in caring for your customers, recognize their efforts and let them know you appreciate them. When a member of your team shows up on time, does consistently high-quality work, improves their skills and abilities and treats your customers with the utmost regard, reward them accordingly. Otherwise, your team members will 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. We typically treat the people we like differently from those we don’t. When you like someone, you take an interest in them, build a relationship and care about them. They know it. They also know when you don’t like and care about them. Your team members aren’t merely assets, resources or cogs in the wheel of business. They’re human beings with challenges, dreams, fears, hopes and lives just like you. Get to know your people. Team members who are treated this way have a real sense of loyalty and commitment to the business and the customers it serves. When people on your team feel cared about, they return the favor to you and your customers.
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 are not. Ask for, listen to and consider their suggestions as you make decisions and implement changes. This doesn’t mean you’ll 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.
Team members who are treated well are typically more caring, engaged, loyal and willing to go the extra mile for customers because the business owner does the same for them. Turnover decreases, efficiency and productivity increases and sales are captured, not lost.
It’s important to realize customer loyalty starts at the top — with the business owner. Who you are and how you treat people in the process of doing business determines customer satisfaction and loyalty — and, ultimately, business success. As you care for, involve, recognize, support and value your team members to a greater degree, the quality of your business will improve.
As businesses reopen, I urge you to understand and honor the symbiotic relationship among you, your team members and customers. 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.