It’s a basic human need.
In his first book, “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect,” UCLA professor Matthew Lieberman tells us that our need for social connectivity is as basic as our need for food, water and shelter.
Not too surprising.
Why is it, then, that so many managers, directors and leaders are reluctant to connect with their customers? Has email, voicemail and even social media made it easy for us to hide in the backroom and lose out on the interactions that could be valuable to our careers, businesses and lives? What are we afraid of?
I know I can answer this question: We are afraid that if we reach out to connect, we might learn how unhappy some of our customers are with our products and services.
Microsoft’s Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
Gates is spot-on with this statement, and if, like me, you are a subscriber to the theory that learning is a lifelong process, you’ll be out there connecting as often as you can.
- Meeting with your customers on a regular basis;
- Calling them for their opinions;
- Surveying them;
- Inviting them out for the occasional lunch or coffee;
- Connecting with the competitor’s clients at networking and chamber meetings;
- will reward you with the data you need to grow and sustain your business. Being visible and available to customers let’s them know you care.
When we fail to reach out to those we are serving, we are teaching those who work for us that it’s okay to behave in this manner. In today’s competitive marketplace, hiding and hoping for the best just won’t do.
As managers, supervisors, business owners and leaders, you are the role model for the next generation. You can’t complain about the current generation’s lack of customer engagement if you aren’t actively engaged yourself.
Connection. It’s a basic human need. Your customers need it and so do you if you plan to be in business in the next 5 years.
How do you connect with your customers? What works best in your industry?
Do you have standards in place at your organization? What’s the best way to implement them if you don’t?