The Gift of a Customer

So let’s be honest, there are some people out there that we wish we never worked with/for. Some customers drive us to drink, and even maybe consider throwing in the towel and getting a job. Sometimes you just can’t help but have these bad customer experiences, especially if you’re a really big brand like a chain restaurant or well known box of cereal that can be found in just about every food store around the US. But for most of us we can put up some guards at the door to check with potential customers before they become customers, or at the very least clearly communicate on our website, social media and newsletter who we’re a good fit for, and who should look elsewhere. Personally, I have no problem or guilt in sending someone that I’m not capable of helping to someone else. For example if a guy I was considering coaching or consulting for consistently flirted with me in an obnoxious and unavoidable way, I’d tell him that we wouldn’t be a good fit and he should look for other help. It’s certainly possible that I could have helped him, but I’m not interested in that stress. Or if a Japanese company comes to me and asks for help but all their marketing materials are in Japanese, I’m just not the right person to dive deep with them on expanding their marketing within Japan (unless it’s to English speaking people).

But on the flip side there are some business that we’re sorry we’ve purchased from as customers, whether we’re talking as an individual/family or b2b. Maybe we’re sorry because we didn’t realize what we were getting up front (the sales pitch was just that good that we were tempted into signing up without asking lots of questions), and then we end up wasting time and most likely some money too. Or we ask for one thing and end up getting several, most not related to what we’re interested in. Or the company just plain out spams you and sends you tons of sales pitches and promotions. All of these are great ways to not only lose customers, but to make people mad; people who go tell other people about their bad experience.

Money is one of the most important things in business, the value you bring to the table is another, and the trust you build with your customers is a third. Without the value you can’t build the trust with your potential customers, and without potential customers (let alone actual customers) you have no chance of bringing in money, which means you’ve got a hobby and not a profitable, sustainable business.  Do you see your customer as a gift or an annoyance?

So this week I encourage you to take a look at your practices and actions when it comes to your customers and potential customers. Are you living up to the trust they’ve placed in you? Just about everyone has room to grow, but if you don’t start from a good place, you’ll never be given the chance to grow.

Trust in Listening

I’ve shared on several occasions this month about the connection between listening and success. As I think about some of the people I’ve interacted with or worked with, I’m struck by the challenge that listening can present, even becoming a barrier for success at times. I don’t believe that you can reach your full success potential without listening to others and getting feedback on your actions and direction. In fact not only can you hinder your success because you’re not listening, you can isolate yourself from others and hurt your relationships with them.

Ignoring what people tell you, ignoring what people ask you, ignoring their opinions, second guessing everything that anyone tells you, and asking for second and third opinions all the time on everything are just a few of the indications that you’re not using your listening skills well and an indication that you may have some trust issues with people. I’m not suggesting that everyone is to be trusted or all answers believed as fact, but first to give the benefit of the doubt rather than just judging someone based on a first impression or opinion. And second if you’ve known or worked with someone for many years and you still don’t trust them to give you an educated, researched or complete answer it may be time to part ways or have a serious discussion.

I can tell you from being on the other side of the conversation, that it’s really difficult to constantly have your answers questioned or questions ignored. I can remember times when multiple people in the same office were asked to research the exact same item, and not because it was difficult, obscure or an extensive topic. I can also remember many times when I’ve repeated the same question over and over in an email correspondence to have the question ignored or not directly answered. It’s incredibly frustrating to be an adult and be treated as a small, irresponsible child for no particular reason.

I get that sometimes you can have a difficult day, but these situations we’re talking about aren’t one-off situations, but rather things that go on day in and day out. If you’re in the situation of being questioned constantly I encourage you to take time to really consider if the situation is that beneficial for you or if it’s time to move on to where you’re more respected and valued. I’d also suggest if you’re constantly being questioned that you sit down with a trusted friend to talk about whether your communication skills (or lack thereof) or communication style could be a factor in the issues you’re facing. If you’re someone who struggles with listening, I’d suggest taking a serious look at your life and relationships and evaluate if you’re feeling fulfilled, frustrated, challenged and/or valued. If your life is not all you want it to be it’s time to evaluate the people in it and the habits and practices you have.

While it can be challenging, communication is one of the most valuable skills we have as humans in 2017. If we all worked a little harder at communicating with each other with respect and clarity and taking the time to really talk things out, we’d solve many of the world’s issues quite quickly, or at least put a plan in place for resolving them with less anger, confusion and bloodshed.

Pursuing a True Partnership

Are you thankful for your life? This is one of life’s greatest secrets: to truly be thankful for what you have, where you are, who is part of your life and what the future holds. Of course, in order to be thankful for those things it’s necessary to have those things. Each day we’re making choices about things that we want as part of our lives, choices that affect our customers, our kids, our partner and/or our family, and choices about what the future holds. Whenever we make a choice we have to live with it, change it, embrace it or deal with the fallout.

One of the things I’m most thankful for is my partner. We work well together, we don’t mind each other’s quirks, enjoy the quiet moments and work through the hard ones. I’ve experienced what it’s like to have a partner who isn’t on the same page as you and it makes things incredibly difficult, not to mention not as much fun or as motivating to do the work required in a relationship.

I’ve said before that your happiness is really your responsibility, not theirs, and I still believe that. But part of being a partner is about seeing to their needs and desires, making sure they’re cared for, encouraging them, supporting them through the tough times, pushing them to be better and/or meeting them where they’re at depending on what is called for at that time.

A relationship that is a partnership works off mutual trust, happiness, interests, goals, chemistry and love. In a true partnership that’s meant to last these things take time to develop, they’re not instantaneous. But romancing each other, learning about each other, discovering the secrets, creating new stories and memories, and embracing what could be forever are part of the fun of a building a partnership.

If you’re in a good partnership have you told your partner lately how grateful for them you are?

“Marriage has made me a lot happier and I’m deeply in love with my wife, and I thank God for her every day…It is really rare to find someone you really, really love and that you want to spend your life with and all that stuff that goes along with being married. I am one of those lucky people. And I think she feels that way too. So the romantic stuff is easy because you want them to be happy.”  Harry Connick, Jr.