Treating Customers Like Family

Last week, we talked all about the importance of treating your employees like family, but what about your clients? Do they make the list of “loved ones?” As the holidays approach, the topic of family is more prevalent than ever. A lot of business claim to treat their clients like their own flesh and blood, but when’s the last time you actually had them over for Sunday dinner? For the vast majority of you, the answer is probably “Never.”

Fortunately, a monthly print newsletter eliminates the need to invite your clients over for the holidays, but it doesn’t have the power to make your clients feel like family all by itself. That’s where you come in. By treating your clients like family (going above and beyond, offering exceptional customer service, and providing them with an unforgettable experience), you’re ensuring that their “familial bonds” last for a long, long time.

How Businesses Can Treat Customers Like Family Members

This article recommends not only putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, but putting a loved one in their shoes as well. What if that customer was your mother? Would the way you react to their problem or the services you provide them with be any different? The answer is probably yes. This article contains two great examples that emphasize the importance of treating your customers like family.

Treat Customers Like Your Boss’ Family

David Martinez, a Russo’s Coal-Fired Kitchen franchisee, knows the importance of exceptional customer service, but makes the very valid point that “treating customers like family” could result in a more relaxed approach from his employees. He counteracts this by telling them to treat customers like they’re his family–after all, who’s going to snub the boss’ sister? Read on for 5 ways to establish personal ties with your clients!

3 Ways to Treat Customers Like Friends

You know what they say, “friends are family you choose,” which means you might be apt to treat them a little better than you treat your own flesh and blood–who will always be related to you, no matter what kind of service you provide them with. But maintaining a healthy friendship is hard work, and the same goes for the “friendship” between you and your clients. Here’s 3 ways to ensure that your customers feel the love all year round.

A Family is Only as Strong as it’s Story

So, how exactly can a newsletter prevent you from having to invite each client individually over for dinner? It’s simple; when you send out a monthly newsletter, it shows your clients that you’re thinking of them–and that you want them to think of you. When they read about your daughter’s latest exploits, or your updates from the office, they feel like they’re part of your world–and, in turn, part of your family. Our writers recently changed their titles to “Storytellers”–and once you read this blog, you’ll understand why!

2 Responses to Treating Customers Like Family

  1. Charlie April 1, 2017 at 10:38 AM #

    Speaking from my lifelong experience as a customer, I don’t want to be treated like family. I don’t want retail clerks or waitresses or other service folks I see regularly to get as relaxed and familiar around me as they would around their own family, because when that happens, they get too sloppy and end up forgetting that this is a customer-vendor relationship, not a brother-sister relationship. And when that happens, that’s when the passive aggressive behavior from the employee toward the familiar customer begins, which can sometimes elevate to outright insults.

    I always get pretty anxious when I feel I must lodge a quality complaint or even wrong order complaint with a business I’ve been patronizing for years and where I know all the workers. Usually they can barely hide their annoyance at it, frequently using hostile body language when they deal with me on it, and the negative feeling lingers not only for the rest of that visit, but for numerous visits into the future. And when someone feels aggrieved, the memories can be long.

    Now, if I were completely anonymous to them—if this were my first time there and I made the complaint—believe me, they would take it seriously and try to rectify it so I would feel good about them and maybe come back again. But if I’m already coming in every week for years and I have to lodge the complaint, they tend to treat me—well, like family. And when a family member complains about something their sibling did, especially when the sibling tried to do it right in the first place, hostility from the sibling is basically as guaranteed as death and taxes. Think about that.

    So, no, please, don’t train your employees to treat me like family. Train them to treat me like a customer. I’m not saying don’t be friendly. I’m saying don’t get too comfortable and familiar (i.e., familial) with me. This is exactly what they’re referring to when people say, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

  2. Marketing Department May 4, 2017 at 10:00 AM #

    Hi Charlie — valid thoughts here. Thank you for sharing! We agree that there is a level of familiarity that can go too far. However, we speak more of the frequency of communication and building a relationship here: “going above and beyond, offering exceptional customer service, and providing them with an unforgettable experience.” The key is to treat customers like someone you want a long-term relationship with. Giving them time and attention that goes beyond benefiting from their financial contribution to your business. Recognizing them as an individual and not just a number in the books. This is what we mean by “family.”

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