This is the non-cheesy Valentine’s Day article you’ve been looking for. This is the V-day special you won’t be ashamed to read at work, but which made me cover my screen during research. All that for a good cause though, as today we will see how all the love advice we are served translates to the business world. Because what love is more important than the love your customers feel for your product?
When you search for love advice and relationship tips (of course you never do, but if you did), you might be surprised with the results. It seems they’ve evolved since I was a teenager, when interns at magazines repeatedly published the same old cliches.
Nowadays you can find relationship specialists and psychotherapists who write about the subject without those old one-dimensional platitudes. But instead they serve you overblown statements about self-love and inner purpose. Or worse, they mix in corporate ideas like scheduling relationship one-to-ones every week and using the Pomodoro time management technique for lover’s quarrels.
But don’t worry! I’m coming to the rescue. I won’t tell you how to get butterflies back in your stomach after 10 years of marriage. But fortunately, business-related relationships are easier to manage. And platonic love doesn’t require as many heart emojis.
So let’s dig into the subject. Lucky for you, I’m the one who had to read Super Helpful Tips to Get Your Crush to Fall For You and Tips To Make A Good Relationship Great. Pity flowers for Marta-the-writer are welcome at the office.
Don’t go to bed angry
Easy one, just sleep on the couch.
People sometimes get upset or frustrated. Customer service specialists cannot take responsibility for customers’ feelings, but they are responsible for their own reactions and the way they address the problem.
Customer service reps are trained to stay calm and keep emotional distance from work issues. Most of the time they’re able to use tried and true techniques to calm the customer down.
It’s our responsibility as a company, to make sure whatever the customer’s concern is, we’re clear on how the situation looks from our side, what we can do to fix it and how we can compensate for the situation.
Use a problem to win a customer long-term.
A study of customer’s complaints to airlines and wireless carriers on twitter has shown that customer service can turn angry customers into loyal ones. Customers who experienced ‘prompt and personal customer service’ when facing an issue, turned out to be willing to pay more for the service in the future. They would also choose that brand over other reasonably priced options, despite the past problems.
Further research also proved that customers who had interacted with customer service turned out to be more loyal than the ones who had no such interaction.
Turn issues into opportunities to win a customer long-term.
Provide quick, competent customer service and never ever let your customer go to bed angry.
Fall in love with your BFF
Or maybe just let best friends be best friends?
But feel free to mix love and friendship as much as you want with customers.
An example. Targeting the proper audience is the key to a successful business. Knowing your audience well requires a serious commitment. Maybe even a little love. You must understand customer struggles and needs and turn them into insights to deliver an exemplary service or product. Sharing your customer’s beliefs, sense of humor and tone of voice is important to build a connection with customers and make them feel accepted.
‘[The research done by Disney / ABC Television, Omnicom Media Group, and Insight Strategy Group] shows that consumers across all generations want and expect the same things from brands as they do of their friends and family - reliability, authenticity, and the feeling like the brands ‘get’ them and what’s important to them at this point in their lives - whatever that point may be," said Jonathan Steuer, chief research officer at Omnicom Media Group.
People connect with brands they can relate to.
Maybe in real love opposites attract, but in customer service love, it’s better to find common ground. Company representatives should focus on finding similarities when talking to customers and make sure they feel understood.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Well, it depends. I recommend reading about love languages if you want to know why.
In the business world, creatives lose sleep to come up with catchy slogans or intriguing calls-to-action. Don’t know about you, but the only people I ever saw impressed with these are marketing people themselves. It doesn’t mean words are not important. They help customers connect the dots, they influence the subconscious mind. Yet they mean nothing if they’re not followed by actions.
Great branding wouldn’t be possible without carefully crafted communication. Yet no matter how great the copy is, without action, it’s just a blend of letters.
Deliver positive experiences if you want your brand to be remembered.
If you don’t fix the issue soon enough to satisfy the customer, no sorries or promises will help. No copy in a newsletter or carefully crafted slogan will work as well as being active and delivering positive experiences to customers.
Love Like You've Never Been Hurt
I’m sorry, the wrinkles I got from wincing during my last relationship are hard to be ignored.
Customer service reps, though, have a tough challenge. They have to approach every conversation with a customer as if it was the one and only interaction. Talking to hundreds of people on a daily basis requires lots of self-control and even more soft skills. It’s easy to treat all the customers as a group, however, every customer is a different person and has a different story.
Customer service employees need to pay special attention to starting every chat or conversation with a fresh attitude and an open mind. It’s important for customers to feel valued, respected, and not just another number in the company's statistics.
According to the research from NewVoiceMedia, 49% of customers switch companies because they feel unappreciated.
Approach every conversation with a customer with an open mind.
Imagine it's your first interaction. Likely for them – it is. It will help you to stay patient and understanding, and appreciate the relationship with every single customer that chose your brand.
Share your flaws and imperfections
Any better ideas of spending time together rather than indulging in self-pity and letting your partner hand you tissues? Anyone?
However, for a brand, it’s a different story. Brands are designed to shine bright and attract people. Yet one of the easiest and most efficient ways to make people like your brand is to show them it’s led by people. People who make mistakes, who do their best but sometimes they simply fail. And to show your customers you know how to say sorry and you’re not afraid of being wrong.
Customers love brands with a human face.
People tend to be distrustful when something looks too good to be true. As brands are meticulously planned out from top to bottom, they usually seem as such. But sharing some imperfections in a professional way can easily fix this impression.
It’s called The Pratfall Effect and it was proved through a study run by a social psychologist Elliot Aronson, together with colleagues Ben Willerman and Joanne Floyd, The effect of a pratfall on increasing interpersonal attractiveness.
‘An experiment was performed which demonstrated that the attractiveness of a superior person is enhanced if he commits a clumsy blunder; the same blunder tends to decrease the attractiveness of a mediocre person. We predicted these results by conjecturing that a superior person may be viewed as superhuman and, therefore, distant; a blunder tends to humanize him and, consequently, increases his attractiveness.'
Make sure your brand doesn’t intimidate people. Make it more human through honesty and openness about struggles or challenges it faces. Sharing them in the form of useful and inspiring case studies will not only humanize the brand but deliver valuable content at the same time.
Choose to serve your customers every day
To be honest it’s pretty easy to make fun of the common love advice. I could go on like this all day, but I guess some of you may already have plans. #valentinesday
Cheers to the last cliche today.
Choose to love your partner every day. I have to admit it got my attention. Turned off my sense of humor, made me feel a bit sentimental. But as to what makes for real love advice, I’ll let you decide.
Anyway, enough of these touchy-feely vibes. The point is, outstanding customer service and long-lasting relationships with customers require that decision, that action from the company every day. Therefore let’s start every day by choosing to serve our customers, the best we can.
Ha. You didn’t think I’d let you go like that, being all serious?
Let’s end this article with a little creative task. I couldn’t resist noticing there’re enough love cliches to form the whole dialogue. The Romeo and Juliet kind of tragedy. The customer-service drama.
I take responsibility for the customer service advice given in this article, however, I strongly discourage treating the love-business idea too seriously. Do not follow the Customer Service Rep from our tiny performance below.
I also discourage you from getting any sort of inspiration, other than artistic, from the Romeo and Juliet tragedy.
Now, sit down, enjoy the show, don’t try this at work and no popcorn, please!
Play: Customer and CS Rep
Satire on love and customer service
Act One Thousand Twenty-One, Scene 1
A chat window, Enter Customer, typing starts
Customer: What’s happening with the server, we’ve been struggling to access our website since yesterday morning!
CS Rep: Excuse me, If You Can’t Love Me at My Worst, You Don't Deserve Me at My Best
Customer: What are you talking about?! I’m PAYING for this service
CS Rep: Well, You Can't Buy Love
Customer: Mate, you don’t understand, we lost $120 000 yesterday, because of that bug on your side
CS Rep: Time Heals All Wounds
Customer: Time? You say I’m paying premium but you still make me wait two days to get back to my email?
CS Rep: Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Customer: I don’t understand. I checked your competitors’ offers and they all offer 24/7 support!
CS Rep: Oh, Once a cheater, always a cheater
Customer: Can we please talk seriously for a moment? I pay a premium price, I expect premium treatment
CS Rep: It's All About Compromise, and Love Means Never Saying You're Sorry
Customer: That’s ain’t funny, I want to cancel my subscription entirely. I’m done.
CS Rep, with passion:
Love Will Set You Free.
There is Plenty of Fish in the Sea.
My dear, It Isn’t You, It’s Me.
It Wasn’t Meant to Be.
/Customer left chat/
Chorus: Everything Happens for a Reason. If You Love Them, Let Them Go.
Jokes aside, don’t let your customers go. Otherwise, you might not be able to afford that Valentine’s Day dinner.