Has your bank manager ever given you a hug? Or have the waiters at your neighbourhood coffee shop ever recited poetry to you?
If the answers are ‘No’ and ‘Never’ you are among millions of consumers who feel unloved by the retailers and service providers who proclaim how much they value their customers but never get round to sharing the love … not even on Valentine’s Day.
The dearth of signs of affection for customers is not a frivolous issue, says consumer service consultant Aki Kalliatakis. Customers appreciate a warm welcome and a personal touch and come back for more, creating high levels of customer retention at businesses that encourage closer engagement.
Keeping up your customer retention
The opposite is also true. Customer retention can plummet if consumers hankering for a soft, loving approach feel that retailers have their hearts set on profit alone, says Kalliatakis, founder of The Leadership LaunchPad, a consultancy that helps businesses build sales and service volumes through service improvements.
“Indifference is particularly hard felt at a time like Valentine’s Day,” he adds. “The day is a great opportunity to reach out to customers on an emotional level, yet many businesses spurn the chance and as a result risk kissing their customers goodbye.
Show your lovable side
“It’s counterproductive to use Valentine’s Day purely as an opportunity to drive up sales of cards, flowers, chocolates and gifts without doing anything to reach out to customers to show your lovable nature.”
Sharing that loving feeling is not costly. Often, it comes down to attitude, a smile and a personal touch.
Kalliatakis quotes several examples of personal initiatives with the potential to touch the hearts of customers, including …
- The man who on Valentine’s Day bought pills for a tension headache and received a brief but tender neck massage as well
- The Valentine’s Day waiter who recited lines of love poetry to lady guests who were smitten by the gesture
- The laundry worker who pinned a note to a laundered suit and tie, praising the customer’s impeccable taste ahead of a Valentine Night’s date.
Warm your customers’ hearts
Kalliatakis confesses: “I love Valentine’s Day because it gives us an excuse to show other people – customers in particular – that we care. Even people who share no romantic connection can use this day to be kind and helpful, to smile a little bit more, to reach out to other human beings even at the risk of being a little silly and sentimental.
“If you are a receptionist or just answering the office phone you can put extra warmth into your manner or a lilt in your voice. Every trading day, but especially on Valentine’s Day, spread a little joy. Killjoys can kill profits, so let your softer side come through.”