Why You Should Treat Your Customers Like Friends

Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Small Business Efficiency [ 0 Comments ]

In a business, especially a small business that may be struggling to get moving, it’s easy to focus on the financial aspects. Getting capital, paying bills, hiring employees; it’s an all consuming stress that can cloud your ideas about what the business needs to be successful.  Yet, an article I recently read on Entrepreneur.com profiled a flourishing startup jewelry business, Gemvara, whose main focus was the customer.

“I believe you should spend all the time in the world understanding and working with that customer,” he says. “That focus is even more important than pleasing your investors.”
– Matt Lauzon, Founder/Owner of Gemvara

While reading through the article, I momentarily paused at this statement. In a time when failure and delinquency rates in small business are soaring across the country, this one small business is taking it from a different angle. His obvious success made me wonder if many small businesses are missing out on the most important aspect: the customer.

  • Building Trust and Compassion

While finances are critical to the success of a business, spending more time worrying about that and less time focused on the customer could be detrimental.  In a time of recession, people are spending less. Thus, to be successful, making that connection with your customer is of utmost importance. Basic psychology of the human brain proves this.

The human brain asks two main questions: What? and Why? This creates that gut feeling we’re all familiar with. Contrary to traditional business beliefs, this feeling does not sprout from exposure to extensive marketing because the ‘why’ part of the brain can’t compute that. “So if we now put this in context of Customer Experience Management, we see the importance of feelings and memorable moments throughout the customer’s decision making process,” said Oliver Trabert, from Friends of Feedback.

In the article, Lauzon recalls sharing personal stories with customers and hiring multiple employees to work exclusively with each and every one. His business plan is a testament to the human psyche–give your customer a positive memory to associate with you and the business, and you’ll find success.

  • Connect With Social Media

Too many businesses see social media as a platform for marketing and solicitation. While large corporations may be able to get away with this, a small business can’t afford it. Recent studies have found that Facebook users will un-follow a company simply for over marketing.

The best use of social media through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc, is to communicate with your customer on a level where they can relate. A social network connects your customers to their friends, family and you. Strategy Consultant Mirna Bard says, “Many people enjoy interactive social media communication because it gets them noticed. Internet or mobile-based businesses that employ social dialogue are effective because they recognize each contributor.”

When you gain mutual respect through genuine contact, the customer will see you as a friend, not a business. To do this you should create a sense of community. Interact, invite questions, and address issues.

Before hitting 3 million page views in December of 2011 or tripling orders after a year of business, Lauzon says the company stood out from their competition by using “an approach that starts with providing a great customer experience rather than unloading inventory.”

Photo credit: Rchubb.com

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