Customer Loyalty

I’ve been writing customer service articles for over 25 years and always appreciate comments and stories that come from our readers. Jacques De Villiers responded to one of the articles, which was about shifting your vocabulary. The concept was if we called our customers something other than customers, how could that change the mood, feeling and even the culture of the company? For example, an Ace Hardware store started calling their customers “neighbors.” That one word change in their vocabulary positively impacted the culture. While a simple change of words may not have dramatic impact to a company’s culture, it can at least contribute to what the company is trying to achieve. There is a reason that Disney calls their customers guests. Or a gym might call their customers members. It changes the way you think about the customer.

So, back to the comment that Jacques sent. First, he wrote that he refers to his customers as clients. That’s nothing new. When I think of the word client, I think of someone who does business with a law firm, accounting practice – some type of professional services business. Well, the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of the word client confirms that and more. One of the definitions is “a customer in a shop or hotel.” So, a customer, in the traditional sense, can be a client, and thinking of them as such may bring a different meaning or feeling about how you refer to and treat your customers. But, Jacques said there was something even more interesting and worth considering. The full definition included the following:

“One that is under the protection of another.”

Now, that’s a twist on the concept of client. What does that mean in terms of customer service? Here are a couple of examples.

To protect our client – or customer – we always put their interests first. It might mean selling them what they need, versus what they think they want, even if it is less money. You find that out the old fashion way, by communicating with them and asking the right questions.

It might mean making suggestions to buy additional products or services. Some would call this upselling, but if it is about making sure the customer – or client – has the best experience it’s the right thing to do. For example, if the customer is buying a can of paint, it makes total sense to make sure they walk out with a paint brush if needed.

It’s our job to serve and protect our customers from making bad decisions. The payoff is that we earn more trust and confidence from our customers, which over time converts to coveted customer loyalty.