Where is the love? – Chapter 1

Love is not something we generally associate with business — we don’t love most of the companies we deal with and more unfortunately, most people don’t even love their own jobs. If you’re in business it is more than likely that your company doesn’t love your customers (beyond what could be considered blatant cupboard/money love) and even if your company doesn’t hate its customers, it probably isn’t partaking in public-displays-of-affection towards them or even letting them know how they feel.You might think I’m joking. But you’d be wrong.

Unless you’re in the business of manufacturing leopard print kitchen appliances that only work in small Eastern European countries, the chances are that someone else is doing what you’re doing, and probably better. The longer I am involved with businesses the more I realise that most consumers seem to pick the companies they deal with in a seemingly random manner. It’s not really random, and there are plenty of books out there detailing why consumers act the way they do and if you care to study them you’ll probably end up with the same conclusion I did; that humans are herd-like animals, apparently no more intelligent at choosing which grassy hill to stand on then a pack of cows on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

cows2.jpgAnd this for the most part is reality… Consumers choose one company over another because other people are doing it and aren’t spontaneously self-combusting. Spontaneously Self Combustion seems to be the benchmark for good service these days. If the customers aren’t exploding the company must be doing a good job.

But like young Brook Shields felt in the first part of Blue Lagoon, there must be more to this.

Who is that first cow and why did he walk onto that particular hill? We know why all the other cows followed him — because cows are like humans, a little bit stupid.

That first cow was probably a lover.

He loved the feeling of the dewy grass under his hooves, he loved the way the mist sat peacefully in the lower lying parts of his hill. He loved how he could return to his perfect spot where the grass was perfect and the sun was perfectly aligned so as to warm up his bum and not be in his eyes. And how the tree was nearby for later when it got too hot and he wanted some shade… and the view… he loved the view. It reminded him of Scotland.

All the other cows went up onto that hill because that’s what cows do… that and our lover cow hadn’t yet exploded.

Consumers, as I have already pointed out, are a lot like cows. We do love to have the sun shine on our bums and not in our eyes. And when we find a company that makes us feel that way we generally stay with them for a long time.

Unfortunately companies are not grassy hills. Generally they suck. They take your money and give you just enough of whatever it is that they’re meant to be giving you so that you don’t go mad cow on their scrawny, dried up grass, no shady tree, hill asses.

In my imaginary little world I like to believe that that perfect hill is actually loving that cow back… loving how his hooves feel running down its back, loving how the cow stands in the same spot, chewing on his puke and gazing happily into the distance. The hill loves feeling loved.

There is a problem though. Cows don’t have money.

If cows had money our lover cow would become a perverted cow. He’d look to see which hill he could get for less and could he perhaps swap the tree for a small umbrella and maybe the grass didn’t really need to be real grass so long as when he ate it he didn’t explode.

This is what customers have become. Selfish perverted annoying little brats who make you angry and call you at 6:15 when you’re just about to go home and moan that their widget isn’t working just like you promised it would and if you don’t make it work RIGHT NOW they’re going to leave your company and start using that other company who’s customers also aren’t exploding.

And then we wonder why we don’t love our customers… and why they don’t love us.

There is another way. Love. Imagine if your customer loved you and the widget. Imagine if you loved your customer. You probably would have spent more time on that widget, setting it up just right because you loved the way the customer loved you when their widget was working perfectly… and if your customer loved you and their widget still didn’t work they’d call in the morning because they’d know it would be an inconvenience to call at 6:15pm. Because you loved them and they loved you.

You may think I am mad, but there *are* company-consumer relationships like this.

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One thought on “Where is the love? – Chapter 1

  1. The company I work for have a policy of being brutally open and honest with it’s clients, and this does tend to foster a more long term relationship. This is quite different to the no-loyalty nature of, for example, short term insurance. The work we do and services we provide are also of a more specialist nature, which means we charge more and we can afford to, and HAVE to give them the attention they deserve.

    Think about it, for R50 you can buy about 12 minutes of the average company’s time, so difficult clients become more effort than they are worth very very quickly. I think some clients forget that.

    I’m not sure if the differences in our client base has anything to do with it, but we generally deal with a different kind of client: The kind who explains to you that if you don’t fix it right now THEY will go out of business and it will all be YOUR fault. This is of course a type of emotional blackmail, and it stops working after a while.

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