Business owners who want to create sound enterprises that survive in challenging times and thrive in easy times should consistently endeavor to turn customers into raving fans.
When your customers like — or better yet, love — your business, they not only patronize your venture, but also happily share their glowing recommendations with others.
How do you go about creating raving fans out of your customer base? The most effective way is to first create raving fans out of your team members.
Remember: Team members interact with patrons, deliver customer service. and control the quality of the products and services you provide. If your team members don’t trust, respect, like and appreciate you, your business will suffer from decreased customer satisfaction.
How do business owners and managers create raving fans out of their team members? Consider three important human needs.
People want to be liked and accepted. You treat the people you like differently from those you don’t. When you like people, you take an interest in them, build relationships and care about them — and they know it. They also know when you don’t like them. Your team members aren’t merely assets, resources or cogs in the wheel. They’re human beings just like you with lives, challenges, hopes and dreams. Get to know your people. Team members who’re treated this way develop a real sense of loyalty and commitment to the business and customers it serves. When people feel cared about, they return the favor.
People want to feel valued and appreciated. Don’t you? Praise team members openly for a job well done. They aren’t going to be perfect. But if they give their best, reward them with some recognition so they know you value and appreciate them. Outstanding leaders offer praise and recognition. Other ways to show appreciation to team members include spiffs, bonuses, trips, trainings or educational opportunities they want to attend — and raises. When a member of your team is on time, performs consistently high-quality work, improves their skills and abilities and treats your customers with the utmost regard, reward them accordingly. Otherwise, they’ll go to work for another business and turn its customers into raving fans.
People want to feel important. They want to know they matter and to contribute something of value to the team. Creating this feeling in your team members is as easy as involving them in the decision-making process. If you’re truly running the company and they’re working in operations, your team members likely will be aware of things you’re not. Ask for, listen to and carefully consider their ideas as you make decisions and implement changes. This doesn’t mean you’ll use or take action on every suggestion. But it does mean you think enough of your team members — and ultimately your customers — to get their perspective and implement their great ideas when and where you can.
Team members who’re treated well are more caring, engaged, loyal, motivated and willing to go the extra mile for customers because the business owner does the same for them. Turnover decreases, efficiency and productivity increases and sales are captured, not lost, in this business model.
The average person will work 104,000 hours of their waking life. This means a significant portion of their life will be spent away from family and close friends. It’s important to create a work environment that functions as a second family, because that’s really what it is. In a strong and mutually beneficial family situation, individuals are cared for, encouraged, valued and rewarded. People in these types of family situations thrive. The same holds true of team members in a work environment.
When your team members are your biggest fans, they create raving fans of your customers. Happy customers are repeat customers. They spend more of their hard-earned money with you and constitute a great source of referrals.
It’s important to realize customer loyalty starts at the top — with the business owner. Who you are and how you treat people in the process of doing business serves as the ignition point for customer satisfaction, loyalty and overall success. As you care for, recognize and involve your team members to a greater degree, the quality of your business will rise right along with them.