When you are at the check out at most big box stores you can expect to be asked, “Are you a rewards member?” The rewards are designed to encourage us to buy at the store more frequently. Loyalty is being developed toward the reward but not to the company or people working there. I wonder if this was intentional or simply an evolution? What about you? What type of loyalties are you building around you?
When you build employee and customer loyalty toward you and your company, retention and referrals will increase. The cost of acquisition goes down and if you choose you can redirect the savings into more service and care for your customers and employees. I was fortunate enough to watch and learn from someone who was a master at this. His name is Donnie and he lives in a way that demonstrates his competence as a leader as well as his caring for employees and customers. Here’s an example of Donnie in action.
I remember driving home on the winding twelve mile stretch of country road after a hard day of work and receiving a call from Donnie, my manager. It was my favorite call of the day. That might sound odd and if you ever witnessed any of our interactions during normal work hours you might have seen some sparks fly. After hours though, things were different. The first questions Donnie would ask me were usually, “How are you doing?” or “How did your day go?” We usually shared some laughs or I was able to vent off some stress from the day. He listened and we wished each other well at the end of the call. Our workday had been over and he didn’t have to call me, but he did anyway. I know this term is used more on Hallmark cards but the truth is, he called Just Because, just because he cared.
Donnie taught me a lot about leading others and caring for people was right up on the top of the list. It’s hard to quantify caring in a Profit and Loss statement, and that’s why corporations tend to forget about it. When you truly care about someone, and make the effort to demonstrate it with nothing expected in return, people understand that and they respond to it. Employees will support a competent leader, but they will follow a competent leader that cares.
The same goes for clients and sales people. Everyone can profess to care for his or her clients but how many of you truly show you care after the deal is signed? You don’t have to become someone’s best friend or use up your evenings and weekends with social outings, but there’s nothing wrong with that either. When a sales person is very competent and also cares for their customer, loyalties rise. There’s never a guarantee a customer will stay with you forever, but isn’t it nice when they respect you enough to have a conversation about a change before it happens? Customers will buy from competent sales people but they will work to keep and stay with a sales person who is competent as well as caring. Being competent in your role and delivering on your promises are still the foundation that builds respect and paves the way for loyalty, but adding the element of care is like putting frosting on a cake.
Here is some frosting for you to consider using with your employees or customers.
- If you take your employee or client to lunch, only address business when they bring it up. Focus on listening more than talking.
- Send a hand-written card of thanks as a follow up rather than sending a quick email.
- Surprise them after hours on their cell phone just because, and ask the questions Donnie asked me.
- Thank people often and never hold back on an encouraging word or your appreciation for them and for what they do.
- Try and accept invitations they make to you even if it’s not your favorite thing.
- Remember birthdays and send a hand-written card.
- Send something to their office or home when you have heard of a great success they have had.
- When electronics and social media present an “efficient” way to stay in touch by just simply clicking, invest an extra few minutes to send a personal message that you actually needed to think about.
- Understand what they like and make any adjustments in products or services that demonstrate what you know about them. The same goes with employees. Listen to their needs and provide as much as you can to help them be their best.
Of course there is the business side of things that show people you care such as returning calls and emails promptly. Knowing your product in ways that help them and not making excuses for mistakes is also important. When you care about your customer they become the only customers you have during that interaction. To demonstrate this, guard your words so they don’t include any justification or explanation that includes your busyness or business with other customers. They know you have other customers but when it comes to their needs, they prefer to be treated like they are your only customer.
Someone once shared this quote with me, “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than thinking your way into a new way of acting.” If you aren’t demonstrating your care with your customers, your clients or your employees, pick an item on the list and see if that action will start you on a new way of thinking and acting.
One last note, the best results occur when you don’t care for people to gain something, but rather, Just Because.