Delivering the Real Deal

Warm Fuzzies

By Geri Seiberling

I’m sorry that the month of warm fuzzies is almost over. Yes, I am aware the legends surrounding Saint Valentine remain quite speculative. Yes, I know it is pretty weird to like anything about February in Iowa. And yes, I know Valentine’s Day brings with it a kind of love that is commoditized, merchandized, and packaged into processed cheesiness.

Today is Victor Hugo’s Birthday- author of Les Miserables. He said “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Think about that. What a profound statement! We all love to be loved on, but have you ever considered what a sublime privilege it is to give love to another human being? The very idea of loving people up warms me from the inside out. In February. In Iowa. We all know the Real Deal when we see it. The Authentic Smile. The Genuine Concern. But how to give the Real Deal? Some of us desire to distribute this rare commodity with our businesses. I hate the customer service rhinestone. It is the last thing I want to give. ‘Smile when you answer the phone. Everyone can hear your smile.’ I hate fake smiles. How about really smiling because you are happy about giving someone something of real value?

So how do you train your employees to give authentic customer service without the processed cheesiness of the packaged program? Without the memorized scripts- that familiarity that breeds contempt? Let me count just a few ways. (There are many more great ways to show authentic #customerlove. Please feel free to add your own in the comments.)

1. Every small business owner I know has a desire to deliver good customer service. Sometimes the customer service policy is written down, communicated and even trained! But how often do we double-check to see how well we are doing? Have you ever sat down for coffee with one of your best customers and asked them what they really think of your service, waited for their honest answer, and then actually changed something because of what they said? Customer service policies are only the first half of the battle. If you are not making sure that you are a success? It is a bit like a 3 year-old boy giving me, a middle-aged woman, a Hotwheels for a present so I can play with him. Of course he loves Hotwheels! But because he is 3, he assumes that I would surely like them too! If I have never asked what my customer wants, I do not really know what they want. Real love treats others the way they want to be treated. Their perception of your service, and not your perception, is your real Brand.

2. Have you ever been on a blind date from the black lagoon? If you have escaped this experience, I can think of no other word than lucky. Some of us got stuck with the bargain-basement model and found out why they never sold. A million blog posts have been inspired by dates who talk incessantly of themselves and their accomplishments. About the date who never asked you any questions the whole evening. About the eyes that frequently darted about the room, hoping to find a better option. As much as we hate being treated like this, this is how many small businesses advertise. ‘This is what you should know about me me me’. ‘These are our features and benefits’. ‘Do you know of anyone else who would benefit from our product or service, and from hearing about me me me today?’ Just shoot me now. Giving your name out to anyone is the last thing I want to do. Wouldn’t it just knock your socks off if salesperson asked you, ‘How can I help you achieve X?’ (Fill in the variable with whatever it is that your customer really wants). Talk to your customers about what they need and about their problems. Make a customer, not a sale. (Thank you @spinlessplates!)

3. This last way we list here to give authentic #customerlove is bit different. Perhaps even a bit strange. Where do good ideas come from? Where do we find the seeds of innovation and creativity? Often, they lie dormant in the minds and hearts of creative individuals. The only way the seed can be planted and receive sunshine and water to grow would be if someone lets go of it. What does this have to do with authentic love? We are put on earth for community. I cannot be me without you. You cannot be you without me. What good is an idea locked up in your head, without someone to share it with? If you have a good idea or a skill that another would benefit from, but you are not using it, making it known, or giving it away? We all are being shortchanged. Love shares what it possesses. Plant your ideas and dreams for the good of those around you. I’m fully convinced that the world will be a richer place when you do.

This post comes with the honest request for feedback from you. We honestly wish to bring you value. How are we doing? Please don’t shortchange us! You have what we need! We need to hear what you have to say so we can create more warm fuzzies in the world!