What does it mean to treat a customer like a valued customer?

Some people think, and act as though just ‘showing up’ is enough. With so much competition across industries it’s vital to stand out and give customers a reason to do business with you. In the current state of the world, a lot of business are not operating, in the Melbourne metro area we’ve been in lockdown for months and a lot of people have been impacted. People have lost their jobs, businesses have permanently or temporarily ceased operating, and budgeting has become a new skill for many.

For many people in Victoria, online shopping and shopping locally for food/drink/health related items at the handful of shops that are open is the norm , there’s no alternative (unless you choose to breach the rules). In other parts of the country and the world, businesses have been operating within their relevant guidelines and people have been heading out for work and play. As we enter a new normal and money is being injected back into the economy, consumers will be looking to do business with people who value them.

We are being encouraged to shop local and support small business (which I have always been an advocate of and practice), and get back out in the world. To stand out as a business in the new world, things have to change. Interactions need to become less transactional and more about valuing customers.

As a consumer, I feel valued when the person providing a service or product:

  • is present and gives me their full attention
  • asks questions to understand my needs
  • listens
  • demonstrates patience
  • demonstrates their expertise
  • assists me
  • is professional
  • is personable

There have been a lot of instances when I’ve been talking to someone on the phone/in store/in an office/in a studio/in a practice, who is helping me with a service or product and they talk over to me someone else, rush the process, try to sell me something before identifying what is relevant for me, fumble and lie, and or, is down right rude. As a customer I felt invisible. This has happened in high end stores, at the supermarket deli and everything in between. Regardless of the industry, I will return to the same hotel, shop, health practitioner, café, restaurant, Telco, salon etc, and become a loyal customer if the interaction validates my decision to do business with them.

How do you treat a customer as a valued customer?

Understand who your customers are and what is important to them. There is an abundance of data to develop general customer personas which can be used as a sales and service baseline, which can then be customised to individual customers. Customising and creating a good experience involves, skill, knowledge, motivation, common sense and courtesy.

Using the industry examples above these are the things I value in a:

Hotel:

  • luxury
  • comfort
  • ability to switch off
  • room service

Health practitioner:

  • Understanding my concerns
  • Listening skills
  • Treating me as an individual
  • Providing the appropriate care

Café and restaurant:

  • Good service
  • Great food
  • Fresh food
  • Ambience

Beauty salon:

  • No tox products
  • The experience in a salon
  • Creating a salon experience at home with the right products
  • Skill
  • Ambience

Hair salon:

  • Skill
  • Ambience
  • Low tox or no tox products

Telco:

  • Service
  • Treat me as an individual
  • Reputable brands
  • Price

These are some of the things I value when I am making the related purchase. As a rational and sensible person I adapt my expectations to the situation/environment. I know if I were to walk into a Just Cuts or Motel on Sydney Road, the experience I have as a customer would be different. What is important to me as a consumer is how the things I value, is delivered in the experiences I have. A person doesn’t need to bend over backwards for customers and offer the impossible, what will make them stand out is if they go back to basics, and set out to help customers and treat them as a valued customer. Something that is especially important as we get back on our feet.

A valued customer is a happy customer