Why would you want a customer to be your BFF?
Your job after all is to sell them something, answer their question on why their product isn’t functioning the way it should or why their bill is higher than what they expected.
Job descriptions never say “be the customer’s BFF”. Employees are viewed as instruments of the organization; to perform the role that maximizes results for the shareholders and owners of the organization in terms of sales and cost.
Employees serve “them”
Employees are taught to serve the organization. Period. Their essential duty is to the hierarchy; to follow the rules of the people that give them a regular pay check.
And that’s the problem because superlative performance doesn’t happen when people inside the organization serve the organization exclusively. When they are excruciatingly focused on controlling costs, minimizing the time they spend answering a customer’s request and striving to deliver all internal company metrics flawlessly day in and day out.
Majestic performance that exceeds that of every competitor in the market happens when employees are outward focused to the customer; when employees exist to satisfy one and only one objective — serve the customer in a way that surprises and delights them.
Yes, they have their “internal world” to satisfy — productivity goals and the like — but their prime purpose is to create mind blowing experiences for the customer within the confines of what makes good business sense.
Having an incredible moment with a customer is the way to delight them, have them buy, tell their friends all about how amazing you are and keep them coming back for more (sounds like a plan that would satisfy any shareholder, right?)
And the tool to create memorable moments is friendship; the ability to build credibility and trust with another person in the limited time you have with them.
Try these 5 simple approaches to build a BFF relationship with a customer that will both blow them away and satisfy your organization’s hunger for growth.
Reset your brain
Get out of the mindset that says your job is to fulfil the mandate of the organization. Rather than focus on the ultimate end game of your actions — generating more sales for example — concentrate on the behaviours that will yield the intended result.
Long term sales growth, for instance, isn’t achieved by flogging products and services to potential clients, it’s by consistently demonstrating the relationship building acts that get you there.
Unplug your ears
If you’re not really listening to the customer how can you possibly befriend them? If your agenda is to push your wares or execute the policies of your organization, it’s virtually impossible to align yourself with the customer’s wants and desires.
Customer engagement is all about THEIR agenda not the organization’s, so lean into the conversation with the intent to “hear them”, not force them to comply with what you want them to do.
Shut your mouth
If you listen well, this will automatically happen. Airtime with the customer will be heavily weighted to what THEY have to say not what you have to say. Your role in building a BFF relationship is to clarify their narrative so that you can respond appropriately and satisfy their requirements. You’re not giving a speech that would try to convince them to comply with the organization; you’re simply trying to get a clear understanding of what it takes to satisfy them.
The main “driver of delight” with any person is the surprise element; doing something the other person DOESN’T expect.
The airline loses your luggage which contained the clothes for your 8-month old daughter. You call the airline expecting to get the run around, but the rep first of all apologizes profusely for the unfortunate incident, tells you to go out and purchase whatever you need to replace the contents of the pieces of luggage lost and to send the bill personally to her for immediate payment (and the promise is kept). How would you feel about the rep and the company she represents? My guess is you would be WOW’D! and would tell your story to your friends and family — and blog readers also.
Stay with them
Organizations have a complicated structure; for example, responsibilities are separated among marketing, sales, customer service, billing and repair departments with a strategy to concentrate expertise and (hopefully) maximize productivity.
“This isn’t my job, let me pass you over to the people who answer billing questions” doesn’t do anything to build a BFF, it destroys it. I have to enter another call queue and probably wait another 10-15 minutes to get a rep and then tell my story all over again.Building friends requires the “Never pass a customer around!” mantra where the employee who has a customer keeps the customer until they are completely satisfied.
Why would you ever want a customer as a BFF? Because a BFF is loyal, they tell you their “secrets”, they talk you up to their friends and they like spending time with you.
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