I have been and continue to be a customer myself, as are all of you. So, I know where the shoe pinches.
Now, who is a customer? S/he is, after all, the one who delivers you the profits by buying your products and/or services. And, if that is the case, why would you not want to be in camaraderie with her/him? The chummier you are with the customer, the more feel-good factor you introduce into that relationship eliciting customer loyalty, and the more loyal the customer is towards you and your company, in times of any crisis in your company, is more likely to stay the course with you by forgiving you for any faults that might happen in the conduct of your business provided you acknowledge and address those faults readily and effectively.
It is almost a no-brainer why Care is important to transform customer engagement. The more you care about the customer, the more likely it is that you will find ways and means to satisfy the customer. The care can express itself in many ways – right from the furniture you choose for the customer’s comfort, to finding ways to save time for the customer by processing his orders more efficiently, to getting their feedback and taking it seriously, etc.
What about Concern for the customer? Unless you are concerned enough about your customer and his or her needs, how can you get the inner drive and enthusiasm to fulfill those needs? Moreover, even for knowing what a customer’s needs are, you have to have enough concern for the customer’s well-being to be able to make the effort to know. Also, when you are concerned for the customer’s well-being, you will go that extra mile, for example, maybe making that after-service call just to find out how the customer is satisfied with your product or service.
When it comes to compassion, you may be extremely skeptical as to how that fits into a business setting given its overtly religious connotations and its seeming applicability only in cases of extreme suffering. Let me explain. Empathy is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and seeing things from his or her perspective. Compassion is doing something about what empathy reveals as the issue to be addressed. The more you empathize with a customer, the more likely you are to find out what is on his mind and thereby fulfill that expectation almost proactively.
The question then arises, are these qualities of camaraderie, care, concern, and compassion to be nurtured and exercised separately? Not at all. As St. Augustine said, “Love, and do what you will.” You see, once you love, the freedom to do whatever you want to will only be exercised for the right reasons and purposes serving the well-being of others. With love for the customer will automatically come all the four qualities we are talking about.
Now, which customer will not be engaged with you and your company once you practice those four qualities?
However, you might ask, aren’t love and business oxymorons, just like business and ethics are? Moreover, will not loving one’s customers make one take decisions based on emotions rather than on the basis of rationality and its operative principle of profit maximization? And if you do not maximize the profits, will not the competition in the cut-throat world of business in a capitalist set-up lead to the extinction of one’s company?
To answer those questions as I was writing this pretty spontaneously, I Googled the phrase “businesses operating on the principle of loving one’s customers” and the very first search result on Google was a LinkedIn article called “Executives Explain What Customer Love Means to Them”, in which there were these opinions expressed by the Who’s Who of the corporate world, which only proves my point, and I quote:
“[Put] the customer in the center of every decision, always [put] yourself in their shoes, and anticipate how you can enrich their lives or help grow their businesses. Give a big voice to your frontline people and relentlessly build a customer-centric culture in your company.”
— Dominique Leroy, Member of the Board of Management, Deutsche Telekom AG for Europe
“We work hard to show our customers love by creating beautiful experiences that help people make the most of their money. We empower our teams, hold ourselves accountable to customer experience metrics, and celebrate our customers’ success.”
— Kaaren Hanson, Chief Design Officer, Chase
“True customer love, or leading an organization to focus on the customer, takes time to develop, but once it is part of the organizational culture, it provides the strongest and most sustainable competitive advantage. It is also core to unleashing your own team’s energy to deliver. Do it.”
— Timm Degenhardt, Managing Director, Omers Infrastructure
“Citizens leads with love by ensuring every colleague has a daily emotional connection with our customers. Whether it’s our frontline teams or the head of Wealth Management, they have access to direct customer feedback. We then use that input to best support our customers’ evolving needs and create frictionless experiences.”
— Beth Johnson, Chief Experience Officer, Citizens
“At Uber, we strive to ‘build with heart’ and bring love and empathy to the way we show up in the world. One way we do that is by inviting users into the design process, as we do with Uber Crew, where we collaborate with drivers to solve problems that make their experience with Uber better.”
— Thomas Ranese, Chief Marketing Officer, Uber
Need I say more?
Once customer engagement sets in, which it will in a robust way once there is love for one’s customers as argued above, then favourable business outcomes are automatically assured.