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Getting Through High School Sucked Back Then, It Would Still Suck. Now Building Customer Loyalty
by Gerhard Guevarra Wed, 11/10/2010 - 14:27
Consider the obscurity of the title. Perhaps I chose it so you would at least read the first few lines of this short essay. Consider also that you’re reading these lines only because I used the word “sucked”. Then let’s also consider that you may, with high certainty, skip the next few lines and perhaps paragraphs to see how I manage to correlate the great high school suck to building client loyalty. I have also considered that for some, high school did not in fact suck, as it did not for me, but I’m just considering this because I know for many it has. Now go back and count how many times I used the word consider and if I even used them correctly. Inconceivable.
Now consider this. Two minutes ago, I had no idea what I was going to talk about.
So as I sat here backing up my all my files onto my new 1 Terabyte Seagate external drive because my other external drive decided to start failing, I had time to write my next blog post for Idea Cafe and the All-American Fencing Academy.
Customer loyalty, what is it? Google (through Wikipedia) defines Customer Loyalty as: The loyalty business model is a business model used in strategic management in which company resources are employed so as to increase the loyalty of customers and other stakeholders in the expectation that corporate objectives will be met or surpassed.
I am not a business major, nor do I claim to be a business genius, but there are an awful lot of complex words in that sentence. So let’s break it down to something everyone understands.
Customer loyalty...whatever you do in your business to get customers...
1. To come back (even after a summer break or a Christmas break)
2. To keep them smiling
3. Talking to their friends about you
4. To say, “Mistakes happen, it’s ok.”, and
5. To respect you as a business, but consider you as a friend.
That may be totally different than what business majors say is logical. That may be the worst piece of business mind set on the planet...but it’s worked for me and that’s what you get when you listen to a Physical Education, Exercise and Sports Science Major.
How does this all relate to life in high school? It’s all about fitting in. People want to fit in. That’s how it was in high school. Trying to fit in the crowd...whether it’s the in crowd, the out crowd, the geek crowd, or the crowd on the Group W bench. Many were just trying to fit in someplace, and in many cases, the it’s the “in crowd”.
Well, now you’re the “in crowd”. You’re not only the “in crowd”, you’re the supreme leader of the “in crowd”. Once you’ve got people in your business, they are trying to find their way to make sure they fit in. When they don’t, they move on someplace else to try to fit in.
Here’s one (of many things) I learned while in the Army. You’ve got to get yourself in the ditches. You’ve got to know your Soldiers, you’ve got to know their hobbies, their families and the buddies. It helps working with them easier and it helps you understand them. So you’ve got to talk to your customers, even when they start talking about their bastich ex-husband. And why are they talking about they’re bastich ex-husband to you?...because they trust you, they feel comfortable around you and they feel like they fit in. You can’t be the great and powerful Oz all the time, step from behind the curtain and talk to your customers. Not just talking, but we’re looking for genuine conversation. If you don’t remember anything else from this paragraph, remember “listen to them talk about their bastich ex-husband”. Step away from the desk and meet your customers.
And if you’re not great at keeping up a conversation, remember these 3 phrases and you’ll be just fine: 1) Mmhmm 2) You don’t say 3) I didn’t know that. Intersperse those phrases in your conversation and you can keep it going. Now they feel like they are in the “in crowd”.
Mentions. People love to be mentioned. Mentioned in a good way, mind you. If you have a e-mail newsletter, blog, website, Facebook or Twitter, mention your customers. Think back in high school. Do you remember thinking, “I wonder if (fill in name of hot girl/guy) even knows my name?” Then they walk by you in the hallway and say, “Hey Gerhard!” And you felt king/queen of the world.
Surprise them...but not in that look, I’m not wearing pants sort of way. Bring in snacks one day for everyone. Personally, the All-American Fencing Academy likes when I bring Jersey Mikes Subs. My personal favorite...chocolate covered pretzels. They make the world go ‘round.
Other amenities like free wifi. You love it too when you have it, and it’s a small price to pay when, especially in my business, when parents can update their Facebook, check their e-mail, or post something awesome about your business in their blog.
So if you think about what it took to fit in high school and how much you may have wanted to fit in, or what it would be like to be the leader of the pack...now you’re in that position. You’re now the leader of the pack and people want to fit in to your crowd. Don’t make it feel like high school again for people. Avoid the drama, avoid the gossip, and welcome them into your circle of friends (and don’t forget to hand over that cash).
About the author
Gerhard Guevarra is the owner of All-American Fencing Academy. With his impressive enthusiasm for teaching and training new and competitive fencers, he instantly grabbed the hearts of our regulars and won the 9th Idea Cafe Small Business Grant.