9 ways to connect with ‘customer luv’

Departments - The suggestion box | ideas from retail experts in other industries

Establish a culture where customer service comes first.

February 22, 2016

Connections, real connections, result in genuine customer loyalty. Earning the trust and respect of your customer or prospective customer is no easy task. In today’s information age, the competition for goods and services is greater every day, and the end consumer not only has more options but more access to vast information about potential offerings.

“Customer service” has evolved into the new normal — “customer luv.”

It starts with business culture

Building relationships and earning your customers’ love is more important than ever and requires a village. Are your employees fully invested in your thinking and service standards? Building an internal team that is focused on your mission and dedicated to excellence requires leadership that has earned trust and respect.

Embed the spirit of consistency and service excellence in your people. Recognize when their performance is spot on. Who people really are is so much more important than what they can do at the moment. The most admired companies in the world take hiring seriously, looking for not only a great attitude but one that fits their culture.

To reinforce positive attitudes, give verbal praise, a handwritten note of encouragement and tell people what they are doing right. Say to them, “You are an extremely valuable member of our team because…” or, my favorite, “You are smart, everybody here loves you, and you rock!” Everything is not about the money. Businesses that create meaningful change in the quality of people’s lives win big.

Connect with luv

The moment customers interact with your organization, they will instantly judge if it is an authentic experience or the same old dry, dull and disjointed encounter. In their minds, it’s “been there, done that.”

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According to Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi, “You’ve got three seconds to impress me (the customer), three seconds to connect with me, to make me fall in love with your product.” That’s all you have, oh brilliant one — three seconds. Use that three seconds to connect meaningfully with your customer.

Here are 9 ways to connect with luv:

1. Hire for attitude and train for success. Training doesn’t fix what human resources doesn’t catch.

2. Have a live, happy, glad-to-be at-work person answer your phone 90 minutes prior to your store’s posted opening hours.

3. Pass the call on to a live person instead of dumping it into voicemail.

4. Ensure that all key team members are on point and ready to serve, e.g., plant expert, cashier, seasonal employees, etc.

5. Greet people with a warm smile. It’s common sense but not common practice.

6. Execute immediately – e.g., gather all of the products they will need to make them successful, such as potting soil, fertilizer and a container.

7. Surprise and delight – for example, create an area where people can pot-up plants in the store.

8. Capture the moment via digital photo with the customer’s permission and post to social media.

9. Retweet to extend the life of this customer luv moment.

I want to hear your story. Please share an experience with me. Please post a comment about your favorite brand that found a way to #ConnectWithLuv

Customer service is often a department, but customer luv is a mind-set and delivers a satisfactory customer experience. Inviting all team members into this new way of thinking creates a seamless and consistent customer experience that can be designed, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and customer luv. All of this ultimately leads to increased revenue for the company.

Today, I invite you to look at your business. Think about the last customer who walked into your building. Was it customer luv at first sight?

Simon is CEO of Simon T. Bailey International, and his mission is to teach one billion people how to be brilliant in an average world.