An old saying goes, “People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.”
No matter whether your business is B2G, B2B, or B2C, its people with whom you are doing business. And all people have an inborn need to experience love and respect in their relationships: family, community, or business.
But be careful; people can spot a phony. They will sense if you are being amiable towards them as a form of manipulation, and they will move away from you rather than closer to you. Above all be genuine about your desire to have a love relationship with your customers. Be more concerned with giving than with receiving.
The Go Beyond Way begins with Love and works from there. Love, in its highest form, is willing the good of another and acting upon it without regard for cost to oneself. A servant leader begins with a desire to serve and then engages in leadership behavior as a servant. But that desire to serve springs from Love
“Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself.” Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages
Customer Capital is the second category of Value drivers identified by Chris Snider in his book Walking to Destiny and taught by the Exit Planning Institute (EPI). It speaks to the depth and breadth of a business’ relationships with its customers.
- How strong are your relationships with customers?
- Are you integral to your customer’s success because the products and/or services that you offer are unique?
- Are these relationships deep, long-term, and contractual?
- Are the relationships delivered in a consistent, reliable, recurring fashion?
- Most of all, are these relationships transferable?
Applying the Go Beyond Way to EPI’s Value Acceleration Methodology, we ask two additional questions: 1) How are you loving your customers now? and 2) How could you be loving them in a way that brings them back to you again and again, while moving them along the path from customers, to clients, to advocates for your business?
“Everything starts with the customer and getting a clear picture of that customer. In fact, how the business interacts with customers is more important than what it sells.” Chris Snider, Walking to Destiny
How are you loving your customers now?
“At the heart of mankind’s existence is the desire to be intimate and to be loved by another.” Gary Chapman
How are you showing your customer that you care about them more than you care about their money, more than you care about your business, and more than you care about yourself? Make a list.
Now examine your list. Are you demonstrating your love in ways that matter to them, not in ways that you think should matter to them? How do you know? Do you have mechanisms in place to routinely check the pulse of your customer relationships?
“We cannot rely on our native tongue if our spouse does not understand it. If we want them to feel the love we are trying to communicate, we must express it in his or her primary love language.” Gary Chapman
My most important relationship is the one I have with my wife. I’m confident that I’m doing my best as her life partner – from my own perspective. Nevertheless, I regularly ask her questions to help me understand how I am doing as a husband from her point of view.
- Do you feel cared for?
- Do you feel safe, secure, and protected?
- Do you feel cherished?
- Do you feel respected?
- Do you feel heard?
- Do you feel accepted for your real self?
- Is there anything I’m not doing that you need me to start doing?
- Is there anything I’m doing that you need me to stop doing?
With these questions, I can assess whether my actions are successfully demonstrating my love in a way that resonates with the way my wife needs to be loved. I know how she needs to be loved because I have become a student of those needs. I have invested the time and energy. Understanding them and acting to fulfill them is my highest priority as a husband.
The same is true about relationships with your customers. Your perception of your own performance is all but irrelevant. From your customers’ point of view, do your actions demonstrate that their best interest is your highest priority as a business?
How could you be loving your customers better?
Understanding how your ideal customer(s) need to be loved must be among your highest priorities as a business owner — right after knowing how to love your employees.
Go back to your marketing research and the profiles of your ideal customers. If you cannot discern from your research the love language of your ideal customer in each of the market segments, start asking different questions.
Ask current customers, especially repeat customers, about the things you are doing that show them how much you care about them as people.
Ask former customers why they don’t do business with you anymore? Ask them what actions you could take that would bring them back into relationship with you and help you retain them as customers.
Ask people who you would like to have as customers about the types of things that matter to them. Do they care about receiving birthday cards, holiday greetings, loyalty discounts, special targeted newsletters, gifts, invitations to events, etc?
Grade your customers not on their income level or the size of their business, but by their level of engagement and commitment to a relationship with your business. Design your customer engagement program in a way the rewards them for their current level and invites them to have a deeper more meaningful relationship with your brand.
Most companies do 80 percent of their business with just 20 percent of their customers. That 20 percent deserve your time and attention. Discover their love languages and show them your appreciation in ways that matter to them. Invest in these relationships and they will stick with you, bring you more of their business, and talk about you to their peers. Positive word of mouth can have an exponential effect on the value of your business.
Study the other 80 percent; segment them by engagement level. Learn how to develop deeper more meaningful relationships with them. Take those actions necessary to help them move from customer (somebody who does business with you) to client (somebody who does business only with you for a particular need) to advocate (somebody who actively promotes your business within their circle of influence).
In this way, you will be improving Customer Capital and maximizing long-term value within your business. Maximizing the value of your business is one of the three parts of a successful exit plan — which every business owner should have.
Go beyond what the world expects