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Do you hold your clients in your heart or in your head?

We might joke that ‘our business would be so much easier without clients’ but really that is a reminder of the inadequacies of our systems and processes, says consultant Graham Jones

Do you hold your clients in your heart or in your head? It might seem a daft question, but it is one that came up in conversation this week with one of my clients on a coaching call. The reason we were discussing this was because the individual I was speaking with seemed to partly think of customers as some kind of inconvenience. I know we have all said it – our business would be so much easier without clients. But that is usually said in jest and is a reminder, really, of the inadequacies of our systems and processes.

But the issue we were discussing is an important one. Customers of our businesses actually want to be ‘loved’, i.e. they want to be cherished and to feel valued. It might seem daft to us, but customers say the number one reason they don’t buy is because they think we are not interested in them. It’s not about price, it’s not about value – it’s about how much we show them we care about them.

In my workshops I ask people whether they have ever been ‘speed dating’. This is a multi-million pound industry but I have yet to find anyone who admits to having participated. However, the question is important because when people go speed dating they have a couple of minutes only to decide which person they will go out with. How can you possibly make such an important decision in such a short space of time? Research on speed dating shows that the people who get the dates are the ones who tell the other person almost nothing about themselves – what they do, what they like and so on.

The significant feature about the people who do get the dates is that they spend the entire two-minute speed dating session asking the other person questions about themselves. They focus the entire conversation on them. So after two minutes the other person actually does know one thing about that person – they know that they are interested in them.

It is exactly the same in business. Companies who constantly demonstrate they are interested in us, that they only want the best for us, are the ones we like the most, even though we know diddly-squat about them as a business. But what about those businesses who focus on themselves, with rules, procedures and processes which are clearly geared to making life easier for them? Yep…we dislike them.

Client relationships are not about some magic piece of software or data that you keep on your computer in some kind of ‘customer relationship management’ (CRM) program. Do you need software for your real loved ones? Do you have ‘partner relationship management’ program? Do you want a ‘children relationship management’ program? You don’t need those things because you manage those relationships from you heart not your head.

So we should start worrying less about the facts and figures about our clients and focus more on actually caring about them. Put clients in your heart and you will be more rewarded financially than having some bit of data about them locked away on some fancy computer program. Sometimes we deal with the wrong kind of data in business.

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