Go ahead and admit it: There are times when you really hate your customers. You think they're whiners and always impossible to please. And no matter what you do or what you offer them, they always seem to want more.
Come to think of it, this may be the way you feel about your employees and vendors, too. Sometimes you daydream about the “perfect” business where you don't have to deal with customers or employees!
Sound familiar—even a little bit? If you're not sure whether you've got a case of the hates, here are two symptoms:
1. You never talk with your customers anymore. It's become much more comfortable for you to sit in your office or at home and “talk” via email. You rarely meet anyone face to face since it's become too “messy.” Your actions come from the increasing feeling that you're not really interested in listening to your customers’ problems.
2. You're always searching for “better” customers. You know, the ones that are easier to satisfy and will pay your company more money so you can earn a higher profit.
Stop Hurting the Ones You Love
If you recognize these symptoms in yourself, don't fret. Here's how you can get unstuck, love your customers again and make more money, all at the same time:
1. Suspend the search. If you hate all your customers, it’s probably not them who needs to change. While there may be more ideal ones out there, it's impossible to replace all of your customers at the same time. Figure out which of your customers are currently contributing to your profitable business, and stop complaining about them. Then weed out the few that are real problems or are unprofitable for your company.
2. Find your interest. To build a strong business, you must be sincerely interested in what your customers need. Find out why they really buy your product or service. What problem does it solve, and what is its value? Explore what they think about doing business with your company. This must include the good, the bad and the truly ugly. Listen to their concerns, then take action and return their feedback.
3. Get out of your office. Technology has made a lot of business owners lazy. They begin to believe they no longer need to go out and see people in person to create relationships. This is dead wrong. The best way to build and grow relationships is still face to face. Force yourself to spend focused time with your customers on a weekly basis. This will help generate valuable information and activity that you could never get by sitting behind your desk.
4. Build a culture of like. All the negativity you feel for your customers builds a culture of dislike and dissatisfaction within your company—it's a cancer that's bound to spread. You may first see evidence of this in the negative tone your employees use to disparage customers via email, chat or in person. It grows into an “us against the customers” mentality.
But this type of negative energy isn't part of building a profitable culture. It’s very easy to pay lip service to customer satisfaction. After all, no company publicly advertises, “We hate our customers and want nothing to do with them.” But it’s actually very easy to create a company culture that slips into being apathetic, or even hostile, toward its customers. To be successful, you must truly have a passion for helping your customers and not see them as the enemy. Remember, they pay you money to relieve their pain, so don't be surprised if they come to you with it.
5. Teach customer love. Employees will be far more likely to be interested in your customers if they know how to love them. Train your employees in customer service techniques, empower them to make decisions that help customers (even if they have to bend other rules to make it happen), and give them clear goals for customer satisfaction when possible.
Learning to love the ones you hate isn't impossible, but it will take a concerted effort and some hard work on your part to turn the relationship around. Get started today, before you've lost not just your customers, but your business as well.
Have you ever hated your customers? What did you do about it? Share your tips with us in the comments below.
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