A good friend once explained why we had such a great friendship. “Relationships are like banks. It works best when you both make deposits. That way, there’s always something in the bank for a withdrawal.” While it’s always nice to hear that someone you care about and admire feels the same about you, his observation was truthful for lots of reasons. Apply this idea to customer experience, and you can see how all of us, whether customer or company, requires a withdrawal from the relationship bank at times. If your customers feel nurtured, cared for, appreciated at times when things are good, they will be more forgiving, understanding and compassionate when times aren’t so good. If your customers feel beat up, ignored, unappreciated or neglected when things are good, how will they feel if you require a withdrawal from the relationship bank? It’s well documented that a little mixup with a trusted brand, when recovery is handled well, actually increases loyalty. However, the “recovery paradox” is conditional. It only works when your customer believes it was out of your control, not foreseeable, or the like. If there are several failures in a row, the customer has lost faith. They have been asked to invest in the relationship bank (through trust, continued patronage, etc.) but you, the company, have clearly been withdrawing more than you’ve invested. How can you invest in advance? Here are some ideas:
1. Proactively, personally, and unconditionally THANK your customers.
A good example from a local store I’ve written about before is here: Simple, yet personal and thoughtful. No sales pitch, no begging, just a nice, thoughtful way to say thank you. Cha-ching. It’s in the bank!
2. Understand you are probably not your customer’s top priority.
Think about ways you can make their lives easier by getting them in/out of your store, your web site, your IVR system faster, easier, and happier. While Amazon is not always a top contender for customer experience, they absolutely established themselves as an easy place to shop online. How many times have you, as a customer, decided to shop there for ease alone? The site remembers you, suggests ideas, and gets you in and out in no time. That’s a lot more appealing than filling in yet another order form and hunting for the products you want.
3. Care about your people before they’re customers.
Ever wander into a little store and feel like you’re interrupting the salespeople? How about when you’re browsing and they treat you like you better buy something or you’re wasting their time? Here’s a test: Wander through a Trader Joe’s market some time. It’s part of the culture there to smile, greet, and basically be happy to see people. Everyday, I watch people on Twitter push and push and push content, products or ego to their followers. That’s NOT caring about people – and it shows. Why would I want to become a customer if you don’t really care about me in the first place? Sharing good content, supporting others, and generally connecting with people will actually make them want to become your customer.
When things go wrong (and nobody’s perfect), wouldn’t you rather have something in the bank?Photo credit: Simonthesnowman