This is one of my favorite new phrases. Think about it. Nearly everything can be copied: the products or services that you sell, your décor, website functionality, menu, and prices. Can you really out-work your competition? Can you out-think them? The one area you can get a distinct competitive advantage is by out-loving the businesses you compete against. The only way to do that is stop the typical complaining that goes on about how difficult Customers can be, and just start appreciating them.
Let’s talk about a word that is not used regularly, or comfortably, in the corporate world. That word is LOVE. While it isn’t spoken, it is what all executives want: people to LOVE their brand. They want their employees to LOVE working for them. We all want our Customers to LOVE us. Think about the top brands in the world. People don’t buy from Starbucks, they LOVE Starbucks. People LOVE Apple, Zappos, Nordstrom, Chick-fil-A, and Amazon. What are the companies you personally would never stop doing business with? You may LOVE your hairdresser, your account executive, or your manufacturer/distributor. You might even LOVE your banker or lawyer (crazy as that sounds). What makes you LOVE a service provider or business? What did they do to make you LOVE them? How many of your Customers would make heart-shapes about your brand? I LOVE the phrase “Out-LOVE your competition.” Out-Loving your competition is the most distinct competitive advantage a company can have. When enough Customers LOVE your business, you have just made price irrelevant. What do we have to do to make our Customers LOVE our businesses and us?
You Have to LOVE Them First
LOVE has to start at home. In business terms, that means internally treating your employees with world-class service. What is felt on the inside will be felt on the outside. All relationships begin with a connection. It may only be momentary (your heart skips a beat), possibly originating out of the first three of the Five E’s (eye contact, enthusiastic greet, and ear to ear smile). It grows a little bit more when a conversation is had, executing on the final two E’s (engage and educate). Through this interaction, the Customer realizes it is not about the sale; rather you are truly interested in what’s best for them. Interest and trust has been created. However, emotional connection isn’t made until the business demonstrates genuine care and interest in more than just their wallets. Falling in LOVE with your brand is not possible until the Customer feels that it is all about them, that they are the most important person in the relationship. Your business needs to take the time to learn about them, using Customer intelligence and learning their FORD – Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams. Due to the relationship you have created, the Customer cannot recall how they ever got along before you were in their life and could not imagine a world without your business. You now have a brand evangelist.
Let’s teach what kindness looks like, in business, in family, communities, and schools. Have employees learn about caring for others without a hidden agenda of making a sale or profit. Teach them how to display genuine hospitality.
I am not talking about simply having a Customer appreciation event or week, or starting a VIP program, which are all good practices to implement. What I am talking about is having internal Customer appreciation awareness campaigns. This will dramatically change the mindset of your employees, even yourself. Far too many businesses sit around and discuss how difficult their Customers can be, how demanding they are, and how they have unrealistic expectations. You hear employees and managers too often talk about that one Customer who is never happy and always wants something for free. I truly believe that this is a minute percentage of our Customer base, however, it seems like so much more because of how often they are discussed. Do you want to have high service aptitude? Do you want your employees to have compassion and empathy for your Customers? Start having employees talk about their favorite Customers, the ones who make them love their job. Have your employees tell stories of the times when they have had the biggest impact on a Customer’s day. Companies need to create several outlets where employees can share and hear about how lucky they are to have so many good Customers who count on them and are great to do business with. This will change the tone from us versus them, to genuine caring about your Customers, and make everyone on your team grateful that your Customers are giving you their business versus your competition.
Do You Need to Fall in Love?
Ask yourself, ‘What are you truly in love with?’ Love is the most powerful drug. Some people call it passion, purpose or a calling. However, there is only one common denominator that changes a person to the point where they can’t wait for the sun to rise, jumping out of bed in the morning, excited about the day; that is the emotion called “LOVE.” Whether it’s romance, your children, your hobby, a cause, a product, your customer, or career. Love is obsession. Love is adrenalin that will drive you, make you deaf to the naysayers, make you only see the opportunity, give you the perseverance to withstand the rugged descent when others would bail. Without LOVE, it will be something temporary that eventually gets old. No one has ever accomplished greatness without Love. Are you in love? Do you need to fall in love again?