If we want to make our customers love us, then we … well, wait a minute … Scratch that. We can’t make our customers love us. We can’t make anyone love us. That’s simply not how it works.
Love is a gift we freely give and that’s freely given back to us. The same applies to our business or to any other enterprise or organization. So if we want our customers to love us – our brand, our product, our services – then we start with what we give, not what we want to take or make.
And how can we give love that generates the type of love that’s good for our business?
Now, that’s the better question. Here are four answers:
1. Love What You Do.
Under Armour is one of those brands customers love, and it shows in the company’s results – 24 consecutive quarters of 20 percent-plus growth. It’s also loved by employees. Uh, I mean “teammates.” It’s No. 17 on LinkedIn’s Top Attractors list of places people want to work. Why? CEO Kevin Plank says it’s all about love.
“You have to love the brand,” he says. “You have to really love it, what it stands for, what the company values, the way it does things. We have that. Our teammates — we never use the word ‘employee’ — love our brand and our products. And then, as an individual, you have to feel loved. So, yes, it sort of starts and ends with love.”
If our employees (or teammates) don’t love their work and love each other, they will have a hard time loving our customers. So generating love the flows outside our walls always starts inside our halls.
2. Make Love a Part of Your Daily Routine.
Love isn’t something we “do” only when times are tough or when we need to make a sale or when we’re launching a new product. It’s something we “do” from the moment we wake up and until we fall back asleep; it’s part of who we are. If we can dream about it, we do that, too.
But we can make acts of love intentional and habitual. We can make a point to lead with a positive attitude and to serve others. We can respond to customers pleasantly and in a timely manner. We can empower employees to make decisions that lead to customer satisfaction. As comedian Steve Martin once put it, we can “be courteous, kind and forgiving; be gentle and peaceful each day; be warm and human and grateful; and have a good thing to say.”
Perhaps most of all, we can show gratitude. We can implement regular, formal recognition that shows people they are appreciated. We can regularly tell our customers we appreciate them with positive messages posts on social media. We can proactively find a million ways to say two simple but powerful words: Thank you.
3. Quit the Blame Game.
One of the quickest ways to push people away is to act defensively, to blame others for mistakes, and to avoid taking responsibility for our actions. When our teams develop a bond built on love, however, they own their work and their results. They take responsibility. They are more productive and more innovative. And, as a result, customers are more satisfied.
We can start by taking the time to equip people with the information and tools they need to handle typical problems. We also can create systems that empower people to feel comfortable bringing up internal issues for discussion. That, in turn, leads people on our team to trust each other so they will help each other more effectively deal with customers’ issues. And when we deal effectively with our customers’ issues, they will feel loved.
4. Learn From Your Customers.
Extreme Leaders are extreme learners—they see every opportunity as a chance to learn. When we dedicate the time and resources it takes to learn about our customers, we usually find they have a lot of great insights to share with us about our organization.
Strong relationships are built on mutual honesty and trust. We want to share transparently with our customers, and we also want to make it easy for them to share their feelings and opinions with us. Then we need act on what we learned.
When employees and customers feel heard, they feel loved. That generates the type of trust that allows them to freely give love in return.
Then we’ve reached that inspiring state of being where we’re all doing what we love in the service of people who love what we do.