It’s enough to make you wanna scream.
Spending all that time, energy, and not to mention money working to get customers. You invest time in being awesome. You get their attention to let them know you exist. They buy your stuff, and then that’s when it happens.
They don’t answer your emails. They ignore your requests for another opportunity to serve them. They took all that good stuff you gave them, and then you never heard from them again.
Kind of like a business one-night-stand.
Now you’re frustrated and not too sure about what to do. There’s a simple way to prevent situations like this from happening. And it’s probably easier than you think.
The glue that holds people together
I’ve got a group of fabulous girlfriends. We all worked at the same company when we were fresh out of business school. We started chatting with each other in the office. That morphed into us having lunches together. Then we started hanging out outside of work. Eventually we were taking trips together around the world.
None of us work for that company anymore. In fact, none of us live in the same city anymore. But we’ve managed to continue to stay in touch. Over the years, we’ve evolved with each other as different changes happened in our lives.
We share in the highs and the lows. We remember special occasions. We share life with each other.
We may not talk every day, or see each other very often, but our bond is strong. And when we do come together, we’re able to pick up right where we left off. We are better off for having each other in our respective worlds. We add value to each others lives.
I had tons of other co-workers during my time working in corporate. And most of them are distant memories. But there are some (in addition to my girlfriends) who’ve become close to my heart and with whom I still keep in touch.
There’s one unifying link that has made the difference between co-workers who are a part of my life today and those who aren’t. One thing that made me want to spend time with them outside of work related activities.
A relationship that transcended the work we had with each other. A relationship that made us care about each other and what was going on in our lives separate from our careers. A relationship that kept us connected over time.
And when you develop a relationship with your customers, they’ll wanna stay connected to you too.
What happens when customers stick
They choose you again and again. They’re loyal. They become invested in your success. They want to be around you. They don’t expect you to be perfect. They do it because they have an emotional connection with you, instead of just a transactional one.
In addition, they do the little things. Those things that show they care. Not because they have to. Because they want to. Things like answering your calls. Responding to your emails. Buying your stuff. Telling their friends to do the same. And when you have an off day (because sometimes that happens), they cut you some slack.
Because you have a relationship.
It’s golden. It’s sacred. And if you nurture it properly, it will be the key to keeping your customers coming back for more.
Stickiness in action
Relationships in business aren’t a foreign thing. In fact, there’s a whole customer relationship management industry built for that purpose. Businesses both large and small have found ways to move beyond the transaction to foster deeper connections with their customers.
Here are just a few from my own experiences.
When I used to live outside of Philadelphia, I often went to my local Salad Works. There were plenty of other places I could’ve gone to eat. I could’ve even stayed at home and cooked myself.
But the reason I continued to go back was because of the ladies working there, Mirian, Kathy, and Erin. Every time I walked in, they’d say “Hey Sonia!” They knew my order. We’d chat with each other. Mirian would teach me some words in Spanish.
They built a relationship with me that went beyond preparing my meals. And when I had other options, most of the time I found myself at my local Salad Works. Because I wanted to go see my girls.
I’ve been to other Salad Works franchises. And the food has been just fine. But the experience is never the same as when I would visit my Salad Works. The one with my Mirian, Kathy, and Erin.
Residence Inn by Marriott
A while back I had to live in a hotel for two months while repairs were in progress at my condo. The hotel wasn’t the fanciest I’d ever stayed in, but it quickly became my favorite.
The hotel won my heart, because of the people who worked there. The front desk staff, the doormen, the cooks in the kitchen, and many others invested time in building a relationship with me. Sonia. Not the guest who was staying up on the 20th floor.
And because I so valued the bond we created, I couldn’t keep quiet about it. I felt compelled to share with others how awesome they were.
It’s a blog all about balancing the forces of pride and humility that are at play in each of our lives. Jerod, the blog owner has fostered a online community of like-minded people from around the world who are open and honest about their experiences. It’s a community that’s also super supportive of their fellow readers.
They’re so supportive, that when Jerod blogged about an email I sent him about my travels in South America, he asked the community to send me advice and well wishes. And many of them responded with personal notes that was one of the many bright spots along my journey.
That’s just one of the reasons why I look forward to the Primility emails appearing in my inbox each week. I look forward to interacting with other members of the community working to live an extraordinary life. I look forward to it because we bonded, and we’re growing our relationship with each other.
That bond has even extended beyond Primility, as I’ve been able to connect with fellow readers in other places online as we support each other in our collective pursuits.
Time to douse yourself in crazy glue
It’s time for you to go out and turn your customers into friends. Friends that are eager to have you in their world. Friends that will love you. Because of the relationship they have with you.
Need some ideas on how to build relationships with your customers? I’ve got twenty-two for you. You can find a list of them here. You’ll also find examples, suggestions, and application questions for how to apply the tips in your business.
So go check them out. And then let me know which you’re gonna start putting to use with your customers. Can’t wait to hear all about it, and all the love you’re gonna start getting as a result.