Every entrepreneur and business owner out there knows this truth: Customers are the lifeblood of success. It is probably fair to say that there is a mental awareness of this but all too often we become complacent to this truth. Finding and keeping customers can mean the difference between handicapping your business, growing it, or risking losing it altogether.
It’s been said that to discover new lands one must first lose sight of the shore. You’ll never know exactly what waits across the expanse until you dare let go of the known and familiar. Imagine your business as a ship, navigating seas of opportunity. Now imagine that sea is filled with a host of potential customers. And perhaps by crossing those vast, uncharted waters, you may discover new lands. These everyday opportunities are simply waiting to be discovered.
Imagine those prospects and customers (with a particular leaning toward the customers) as part of an ocean containing vast numbers of people. Sometimes, leaving the shoreline means departing from the known “status quo” attitude and performance, with regards to your customers. Staying at that shoreline can be comfortable, but it can also result in complacency. Just as the sands shift with each wave, customers shift as well. But there are ways to adapt and even anticipate these shifts.
One way to deal with those shifts is to address dissatisfied customers. Herein lies either the shore of opportunity or of destruction for your business and its reputation. If you look at it from a logical perspective, you may take one path. But if you engage from a heartfelt place, you may take a completely different tact, perhaps a better one. It is with this choice that the vastness of the ocean’s possibilities and potential can be truly discovered but only if you are willing to leave the “safety” of the shore as you now know it.
By venturing out into the unknown with the right “heart” can your efforts and actions turn this type of customer interaction around and create an even stronger connection than those enjoy with your best customers. In other words, you have an opportunity to demonstrate your passion, sincerity, concern and authenticity by helping to transform their negative experience into a positive one. Sometimes all it requires is simply reaching out to them personally that makes all the difference.
As businesspeople, we’ve all dealt with an occasional angry customer. Look at it from the other side—each one of us has likely been a dissatisfied customer, at one time or another, too. As the owner or CEO, how often do you make it a point to purposefully contact those irate customers? In today’s social media connected world, those people are more likely than not to post an ugly tweet, or status update on Facebook.
As a former software entrepreneur CEO I always made sure that my customer support teams, and me too, always chose to go the extra mile by contacting every dissatisfied customer, whenever possible, in order to demonstrate our attitude of genuine concern for them and their experience. I myself always prefer to connect the old-fashioned way, by either phone or in person. A communication from you the CEO goes an incredibly long way in diffusing angst and winning the hearts of upset customers. The results of those kinds of efforts often produced a complete turnaround and resulted in creating a strong advocate for us. In today’s world so few people demonstrate that they truly care and are there to help each and every customer achieve success with and through the use of your product or service.
Logic may weigh the time and effort to reach out to those few complainers and determine it’s not worth it. However, care and concern for individuals fosters a different approach—one that reaches out for the benefit of that customer, not just to save face. Dare to leave the comfortable shore of the known and venture into the deeper waters and help turn the tide from dissatisfied customers into champions for your business.