I have been told that I am an overly sensitive and emotional person. This is a trait in which I fully believe I inherited from my grandmother. In some cases it has been a hindrance, especially when it comes to running a simple small business. I am a people-pleaser and my feelings can be hurt very easily. However, in most cases it is that exact characteristic that helps me to genuinely care for others and have a deep desire to assist in their well-being. This has also been a key factor in the success of all of my businesses.
You are probably asking yourself right about now, “Okay, what does this have to do with running my simple small business and customer relations?” It has so much to do with what I think is the single most important thing in customer relations. Empathy. Unless you have empathy for your clients and customers, how can you even begin to offer them a product or service that meets their needs? You have to be able to put yourself in their place and connect with them emotionally to fully understand what is driving them to even consider purchasing a product or service from you.
People subconsciously ask themselves one of two questions when considering a purchase. How will this make my life better or how it will make my life easier? In other words “what’s in it for me?” Consumers try justifying a purchase by convincing themselves that they truly need it. But when you dig down deeper, it usually isn’t really the case of needing something, it is the case of wanting pleasure. We are all guilty of this. I myself NEED my laptop, cell phone and PDA. Life as I know it might come to an end if I did not have them. Do I truly believe this? No. But if you have ever been around when the battery in my laptop or PDA ran down with no AC power in sight, you might think that I believed it.
We all have things that emotionally drive us. This can be our faith, family, friends, a sense of belonging, fear of failure, money, etc. That desire is what motivates our actions. This drive is also what motivates us when it comes to our purchases.
As small business owners and managers, we need to have a sincere aspiration for offering our clients or potential clients a product or service that will exceed their expectations. The only way we can really do this is to get to know them. Some of you may be thinking that you don’t really want to know your customers. You might even have an attitude in which the only thing you are thinking when a potential client comes your way is…”Show me the money!” If that describes you, I would highly recommend hiring a front man or woman to deal with your customers and potential customers. You are the type of person that needs to be behind the scenes because that type of personality and attitude is not what will bring repeat business to your establishment. In fact, they probably won’t even make that first purchase from you.
For many years now, I have been part of a team that truly believes genuine care for people is our number one goal. The entire company has the theory that if you start by making friends from potential customers, the rest will follow. This may seem naive to many. It is important that all people have someone who cares about them. We can show that by even just giving of our time to listen to someone’s problem. The golden rule of “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” should be followed not just in our personal lives, but in our businesses as well.