The Language of Love
Words need to match expectations if we want our relationships to succeed.
Valentine’s Day reminds me how much the language of love corresponds to the business of engaging with customers.
Love is about building enduring relationships, where both parties feel like equals, where they each give and get something from the relationship. It is about two-way communication. It is about trust. It is about wanting to invest our time in the relationship, because doing so rewards us now and because we want it to do so in the future.
For most organisations, this also describes the relationship we would like to have with our customers (and more importantly, the relationship we would like them to have with us).
But, as many of us have learned to the cost of our broken hearts, this isn’t easy.
Chores vs Candlelight
While people can say the right things, what we say through the candlelight over dinner with a nice wine can be very different to what we do on a wet Wednesday evening when the chores need doing and we’re both tired after a long day at work.
And if we can take out the rubbish without being asked, or do the dishes and still smile because we want to cheer our partner up and maybe feel a little better ourselves, then – while candlelit dinners are all very nice – it is when we stand in the rain by the bin or at the sink up to our elbows in dishwater that we don’t just talk about love, we show it.
And showing our love is what counts.
Caring is Doing
We can love our customers during the sale, as we smile and show them our brochures and we give them the pitch and they get excited that maybe the thing we are offering might be the one, the thing that they are seeking.
But are we ready to work at this relationship? To show our love rather than just talk about it?
We do so when we let them call us for help and we answer in person, not with a computer; when we design our website to make it easy for them to do what they want, rather than just get what we want to tell them; when we remember their name and know what they have bought from us and recognise that even the smallest thing can cause frustration; and when we say “don’t worry about it” and give them their money back with a smile when they tell us they aren’t happy.
The experience we offer our customers shows how we care about them much more than any words we use.
Real relationships don’t happen just because we dress up nice and say we care, they happen because the things we do in the weeks and months and years after that first date show we care.
It’s true for our partners. It’s true for our customers.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
(Image credit: Quickmeme.com at http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3pf2)