There is often a palpable disconnect between business owners and their clients. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the former often feel a sense of superiority over the latter. Business owners have no problem keeping their customers at arm’s length. In fact, this is common practice. A company views their prospects as one massive unit, rather than separate individuals who have their own problems, who hate waiting in line, and who don’t want to be treated as just another source of money to be exploited. Sometimes, businesses can get away with this, especially when they have a monopoly on the product or service being sold. However, just because they can, doesn’t mean they should.
Treating customers as customers
Entrepreneurs who treat their customers as customers have a strictly professional mindset. It is often akin to the relationship of a teacher and a student. The teacher rarely engages in friendly conversation with a student, instead viewing their association as a simple transaction: one is there to teach, and the other to listen. Although this formality may seem suitable on the surface, it hardly inspires any sense of camaraderie, never mind loyalty. In order for a business to gain the trust of its clients, it needs to form a bond with them that goes above and beyond stiff decorum.
Treating customers as friends
When a customer is treated as a friend, a subtle shift in thinking happens. A relationship is formed with no gap in between. When making deals, the business owner no longer views it as a strict exchange of goods for money. Instead, he begins to go the extra mile. Just like a real friend, the entrepreneur starts to ask questions like “What more can I do to make sure my friend is getting what he deserves?”, “How much value can I realistically give in order to alleviate my friend’s problems?”, and “Is there any way to deepen this friendship so that we can begin to rely on each other?”
This paradigm adds a new dimension to the company in terms of how they treat their clientele. A company that views its prospects as friends rather than customers will naturally create processes that ensure everyone is respected and cared for. Problems and complaints are resolved in an empathetic manner, rather than the callous approach that often dominates today’s businesses.
Reciprocity happens when customers feel a sense of loyalty
One of the most difficult things to do is to get individuals to part with their money. Money is a valuable resource representing hours of toil and sacrifice. People don’t usually give it away without good reason. Even when they are buying products, customers often think several times before committing to a purchase. The experience is not made easier by business owners treating them like strangers rather than guests. The buildings where transactions are held are often cold and impersonal. Websites selling products are flooded with glitz and glamor yet lack substance. Sales personnel display plastic smiles and canned lines that feel as if they’re just trying to coax the client to take out his wallet, rather than experiencing a genuine desire to help.
All of this can be avoided by taking on the mindset of treating the customer like a friend. Friends loan cash to each other all the time with no hard feelings involved in the process. There is often a sense of trust in place that guarantees neither party gets ripped off by the exchange. Likewise, it is easy for a client to commit to a transaction when dealing with a company who treats him like a friend. He knows that he is getting something of equal or more value for his hard-earned dollars, and he also knows he will receive a warm reception when there is something he wants to discuss. The company benefits from this deal because customers are willing to do business without having to put up defensive shields to ensure they are not being taken advantage of. They know they are safe in the hands of a devoted entrepreneur.
A subtle shift with drastic results
It may seem trivial to even talk about treating customers as friends. After all, it’s only a matter of internal perception. There seems to be no direct link to any significant external action. However, this is not the case. A simple paradigm shift can be very powerful. Once the mindset has been established, behavior naturally follows, and once the behavior has been set, habits emerge.
Start getting into the habit of becoming a company that treats its clients right. Be a company that really cares about them. Once you realize the benefits of looking out for your prospects, you will realize that they look out for you in turn. The profits are a natural consequence.