Whether you are talking about business or romance, relationships have patterns for success. For example, several years ago The Five Love Languages simplified into five categories how people experience love. Placing relationships in a language framework demonstrated that they can successfully be learned and spoken, even fluently.
Business at its core is about relationships, whether your market includes products or services, and following simple patterns can show customers that you care, putting them at the center of your operation and letting them know their value. “Showing the love” to your customers should never get old and should challenge you as leaders to find new ways to demonstrate a loyalty that most often will be returned in kind.
For example, Speaking Words of Affirmation involves positive outreach to seek customer input. This can be done with feedback surveys, sending out cards, recognizing milestones and creating memes showing your appreciation. Nothing surpasses the personalized phone call to a client or customer letting them know how important their support matters to your business. Today, words can take the form of retweets and shout-outs on social media to tailored messages in cards or emails affirming the importance of your relationship.
The Giving of Gifts may seem like an avoidable expense but really what your employees and customers want is acknowledgment. A gift is merely a signal that someone matters to you. There are countless ways you can give gifts to clients or employees that are intangible. Remembering birthdays, special events and honoring reasonable requests can each send the signal to employees or clients that they matter. Customers will always appreciate special discounts for their birthdays or holidays, and again these sincere gestures will be reciprocated with friendship, loyalty and continued business opportunity.
Personal Interaction as another “love language” that has applicability in a business setting. This may seem difficult if you run an online business and other enterprise that provides less of an opportunity to connect one-on-one with real customers. However, clients will appreciate efforts you make to have real interactions, even if those interactions are virtual. If proximity allows, you can get creative, like attending a sporting event, getting together for lunch, or hosting social events to show appreciation. Customers, especially ones attracted to strong brands, want access to leadership, hence it’s no surprise companies like Apple, Salesforce or Oracle hold regular conferences so customers can come together and experience new products and thought leadership.
Acts of Service is another language businesses continue to incorporate into their company culture. For some organizations, this could be allowing employees to spend a few hours every month volunteering in the community or permitting flexible work arrangements for parents. The point is realizing a service culture is great for you and your organization. Look for ways to over-deliver on customer service. Solve clients’ problems and great things will happen. Brand evangelism will increase.
Finally, bring Quality Time into the business-client relationship. This can take many forms, but sincere listening should be part of the process. As you review customer feedback, survey data or stakeholder meetings, seek diligently to understand their position. Most clients understand that their success is inextricably connected to yours. They want you to be successful, and they have the right to expect the same. You will show how important they are to you by paying attention through quality interactions.
My hope is that your business will innovate when it comes to ways of showing care and concern to customers and employees. Symbiotic, positive and growing relationships will go far beyond your business and the welfare of those who benefit from successful engagement to strengthen the fabric of Utah’s economy. Satisfied customers and employees have their own intrinsic reward, and I believe external ones will ensue from these actions.