It's Valentine's Day - a day widely associated with love, or at least as a day for acknowledging love. It's celebrated world-wide with offers of candies, flowers, poetry and many other ways to make it very clear how you feel. While observed around the world, Wikipedia notes that it's a working day in most countries. And to me that means it's the perfect day for marketers to think about how we show our love to our customers.
In a customer relationship, "love" does not mean the same thing as in a personal relationship. While some brands have cultivated loyalty and devotion from customers that may look like love, in most cases organizations have relationships with customers that would never be described in amorous terms.
Don't let that stop you! There are appropriate ways to show your love to your customers. It looks less like cupid or heart-shaped candy boxes and more like sound business practices. Nonetheless, some important ways we show our love personally could certainly apply to a customer relationship, and marketers are in the best position to make it happen. Here are my three suggestions:
- Listen to them
Most books on relationships devote many pages to the importance of listening and there's a reason why - it's fundamentally important to a positive relationship. The same holds true for customer relationships, among other reasons because communication in general is 50% listening. Consider communication in this simplified construct:
Transmit message > Receive message.
It doesn't work when your transmitter is jamming your receiver. So what to do about it? Well, start by going to where your customers are doing the talking.
More than ever, it's on social media. With a robust social media analytics solution, you can analyze conversation data in Facebook, Twitter and other social media to discern tone and sentiment and be in a position to gain candid insights and even identify threats to your reputation and brand.
You can also be more strategic about your contact policies by using marketing optimization. Put structure and reason around who you contact at what times and for what reason so when you are transmitting, it's done thoughtfully.
- Respond to them
There's no better way to show you're listening than by responding in the right way, or in a way that's personalized. In our digital age, customers do many things on line and give marketers the ability to respond on an informed basis. What's needed is an adaptive customer experience solution to gather and analyze online behavioral data and combine it with offline data to enable relevant, real-time personalization. It's how you make the customer feel special - and who doesn't want that?
- Be nice to them
This may seem obvious, but people who care for each other are nice to one another, and there's no reason why that can't apply to a customer relationship. Any person in a customer-facing role has the potential to make the day of your customer, or to do the opposite. Best-selling author Scott Stratten calls it "business awesome" in his book "The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business Un-Awesome." In that regard, you show a customer your love by being "awesome." For a quick read on what he means by that, take a look at this recently-published whitepaper, called "Business Awesome: Part Analytics, All Attitude," which is based on his presentation at the most recent DMA Annual Conference.
Even in the best of personal relationships, love offerings proffered on Valentine's Day are more meaningful when the same regard and devotion is shown year-round. It's not likely that your customers expect sonnets or serenades from you on Valentine's Day, but the need for you to be relevant and respectful is becoming the norm. Never fear - marketing analytics provides multiple ways for you to show your love to your customers. And you don't have to wait until Valentine's Day to start.