There’s no question that customer care remains vital for any business. That’s why for ages companies have lived by the adage, ‘customer is king’ to ensure great customer service.
I mean, businesses wouldn’t exist without their customers. So, we should always treat them well, right? There really is no question about it. Like kings over their subjects, customers have infinite power over your company. Not only by deciding if they want to buy from you, but also because they have the power to change the perception of your brand – for better or worse.
Remember those days when clients only had a small reach through word of mouth? Well, those days are over. In the internet and social media era, the reach of clients has become enormous — global, even.
Look at what happened to United Airlines after a video of a customer that got dragged off of the plane went viral. Their brand perception had to take an incredible hit for it.
Today’s customers have a gigantic toolbox at their disposal when deciding to buy or not to buy a product. They can and will Google everything they can before making their decision. From a product’s benefits to the features, prices, reviews, user videos, and complaints. They will do research on a company and best believe that they will find all the dirt that is out there.
This is even more the case for B2B customers. These customers deal with company money and have to spend large amounts. They base their decision on rationale instead of emotion. It doesn’t matter if you service B2C or B2B clients, you want your reputation to be impeccable. So, treating them like kings sounds like a good idea. But is it?
Why you shouldn’t think your customer is king
You want to treat your customers like kings to ensure they have a great customer experience, and to ensure that they will never write a bad review or tweet about you.
But think about this: with infinite power comes corruption. Like kings, customers can start to expect a certain type of service, to the point where they feel entitled to that level of service. They then start demanding ever-increasing quality for ever-decreasing prices — something you will most likely be unable to keep up with.
What kind of customers are you creating if they become used to you serving their every whim? Be careful with what you put in, the output might be less than desirable.
When you think your customer is king, what do you become?
You become a servant.
King and Servant. You have unnecessarily created an unbalanced relationship.
And what to think about your own behavior?
When you believe that your customer is king, will you still be able to be personable and transparent? Or are you acting out of fear — fear because you don’t know if you can keep the King happy.
Will you neglect your boundaries as you receive pressure from your king?
If you adopt the attitude of a servant, that’s how people will start treating you.
But as a servant, you are replaceable.
What happens if you can’t keep up with your client’s ever-growing demands of quality for lower prices? Your client might threaten to take his or her business somewhere else. That’s because he or she doesn’t care about you.
And let me ask you: do you genuinely care about your king?
If customers aren’t kings, what are they?
How should you treat customers if you stop living by the adage ‘customer is king’? How can you make sure you still give outstanding client care if you let go of the thought customer is king?
Treat your clients like friends.
Focus on an equal relationship. Treat your customers like friends and they will start treating you as a friend as well. That way, you teach them to treat you with care, politeness, and respect.
Think about your best friend. How do you treat him or her?
You probably want what’s best for him or her.
Your best friend is very important to you so you listen with interest to what’s going on in his or her life. Wherever you can, you will help him or her out. And you help in the best way possible. If your BFF needs it, you will even give him some tough love. You will speak the truth to your best friend.
Wouldn’t it be easier to be transparent towards your best friend than it would be to the king you serve? It would certainly be a lot easier to be personable.
Be a friend and trusted advisor to your customers. Become somebody that will make them feel cared for, in return, they will be loyal to you and your company.
Why would you want your clients’ friendship and loyalty?
Easy. Because they will reciprocate whatever you give them.
Imagine Bob, a customer that wants to buy a new cloud solution for his general physician practice. Bob is already a customer of yours but is unaware that you offer the solution that he needs. He has been looking around and found multiple brands that offer the solution that he needs. So far, he understands “Brand A” to be the cheapest option.
Bob finds some customer reviews mentioning the bad customer service Brand A provides. Those reviews recommend looking at your brand instead. Your solution is more expensive but your customer service is the best in your industry.
Bob is very happy that you offer the solution that he needs. He knows he can trust you and decides to immediately purchase your solution.
Sounds too easy? It really works this way. People aren’t only creatures of habit, they also feel the intense urge to reciprocate what you give to them. That’s why content marketing works so well. That’s also why treating customers like friends makes them loyal customers (while treating customers like kings won’t!)
How to treat customers as friends?
Listen to what your customers have to say and ask them for their opinion. Don’t try to sell them anything that doesn’t bring them value. Fix their problems. If you can’t fix their problems, be transparent about it and offer them another solution.
Most importantly, treat them as human beings. Don’t look at them as if they are walking dollar signs. Keep their best interest in mind. If a product is perfect for them, they will want to buy it. If you sell them something that doesn’t fit their needs, you lose their trust.
Find service agents that are empathic and are the type of people that like to take care of others. It takes a person that really loves to help and solve other people’s problems.
If this seems all too obvious, it’s because it is. Like most things in life, it’s better not to overthink customer service. Instead, treat people the same way you want them to treat you. That way you can’t go wrong.