Posted by Becky Carroll on February 13, 2007
Tomorrow, Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day, a day for expressing love and appreciation. Here at Customers Rock! our thoughts turn to customers. How can we express our love and appreciation of our customers?
Some organizations say what they know best, without thinking about using customer language to express their gratitude. You have seen this many times, I am certain. They might use “tech speak” in their emails when they answer a technical question posed by a user. They might use “consultant speak” when they try to sell their services to a potential client (please tell me if I ever start to do this!). They might even use “blog speak” when they are sharing their passion for blogging with others who don’t read blogs.
Customers, however, don’t care about the latest buzzwords. They want to hear something expressed in a manner they can understand. They want to hear their own “language”, and it is about more than just which words are used to convey an idea. It is about using communication methods customers can relate to.
A book came out a few years ago by Gary Chapman called, “The Five Love Languages.” It outlined the five different ways people in relationships say “I love you.” There is a lot we can learn here about how customers want to be loved, too. I have taken the five love languages created by Mr. Chapman and used a customer perspective with them.
The Five Love Languages
Words of Affirmation: This is verbal appreciation. For this type of customer, it is important to hear words such as “you are valuable to us”, “you are one of our best customers”, or “we really appreciate your business.” As long as these words are sincere, and not offered up to just anyone, this language will speak volumes to these customers.
Quality Time: This is spending good time building a relationship. For some customers, this is very important. For others, they may not really want to build a relationship with your organization. However, for those who want a relationship and value quality time, the conversation is important. For example, these customers appreciate corporate blogs that allow not only allow customers to speak their mind, but someone at the organization takes the time to answer back. Thus, a dialogue is created, and loyalty is deepened.
Receiving Gifts: For many organizations, they feel the need to send gifts to their best customers. Is this effective? It depends. If the gift is relevant and a good symbol of the product or service, then it could be worthwhile. The gift may not have to be monetary to be effective for these customers. Traditional loyalty programs cater to this type of thinking. For those customers who value gifts, this language will help cement the relationship. However, this may not be the “language” for every customer.
Acts of Service: This language is spoken by doing something for the customer. This is for the customer that appreciates great service more than anything else. “I don’t care about rewards points; just give me good customer service!” This language can also be spoken as we remember things for and about customers during interactions. Do you remember my account code, which I just typed in? Do you remember me from the last time I came into your store? Acts of service are valuable to most customers, but it is a loyalty key for those who long for this language.
Physical Touch: This one is a bit trickier! I am going to equate it to face time. For some customers, email, phone, voicemail, and instant messaging is a great way to update them. However, they won’t seal the deal until they have had face-to-face contact. “If you really care about me, spend the time to come and meet me.” This is especially relevant for B2B organizations. It can also be important with consumers. For example, there are those that prefer the grocery store check-out line with a real checker, not the automated self-service machine.
How well do you know your customer’s love language? Are you flexible enough to speak one way to one customer, and another way to a different customer? Does your organization track the communication preferences of its best customers? Have you planned out the customer experience enough to take action on your customers’ preferences?
Ask your organization these key questions in your management meetings this week, and let me know how it goes!
(Image credit: thijsone)