Yesterday I paid a visit to the staff at my favorite hotel. I only left them last week, but I couldn’t stay away. I just love them!
For me, uttering the “L” word doesn’t come easy. But when I say it, I mean it. And with the many businesses these days that do their very best to do nothing more than just satisfy customers, coming across one that I can say I actually love is quite remarkable.
Here’s the backstory. I had an unfortunate plumbing issue that caused me to be displaced from my condo for two months. Ugh. After bouncing around at four other hotels, I landed at the Residence Inn Marriott Center City Philadelphia where I stayed for a little over a month.
And now its my favorite hotel. Just to be clear, this is also a pretty big statement for me to make. I’ve stayed in many hotels in my day in four continents around the world. I even lived in a Residence Inn for seven months while doing an internship years ago. I’ve experienced the good, the bad, and a lot in between. This hotel isn’t the newest, fanciest, or in the most exotic of places (although I did have a lovely view of Philadelphia City Hall), but it has hands down earned the title of my favorite.
So how did this hotel woo me so I couldn’t help but love them? They built a relationship with me. And they did it in such a way that I’ll never be able to forget them (as evidenced by the tear I’m shedding as I write this).
Building relationships with customers deepens their connection to you
And the deeper the connection, the more loyal they become. Customer loyalty is the gift that keeps on giving for your business. Not only do loyal customers keep coming back to you again and again, but they buy more, tell others about you, and they tend to stick around even when you’re not quite at your best. Lots of companies have recognized this, and as a result, they spend boat loads of money and resources on loyalty programs, social media campaigns, and other ways to stay connected with customers.
But what the staff at the Residence Inn in Philly was able to achieve simply by building a relationship with me, has meant more to me and fostered a greater sense of loyalty than any number of Marriott Reward points ever could. And I love me some Marriott Reward points!
Why you can’t afford to not build relationships with your customers
Because the second someone else comes along with something shiny, new, or on sale, customers who don’t have a connection with you will leave at the drop of a hat. New customers are much more expensive to acquire than maintaining existing ones. And unless there is some type of emotional connection with your business, then the relationship will always remain a transactional (read fragile) one. So unless you’ve got lots of extra time and cash to shell out filling your funnel with new customers, then its in your best interest to love the ones you’ve got, by investing the time to build a relationship that makes them love you back.
Building a lasting relationship requires you to go beyond just the pleasantries
You have to connect on a deeper level. You can be saying “hey great to see you” or “how about that weather?” to someone you see everyday for years, and still have a very polite transactional relationship. It’s not enough.
Building a relationship that leads to loyalty requires an investment of time. It requires you to pay attention to your customers. And it requires you to care enough about them as people to see them as people, rather than just someone who can or will buy your stuff.
Success is a great teacher. As you work to build relationships with your customers, maybe you’ll be able to pick up a few pointers from how the crew at my Marriott won my heart:
- They knew my name and my voice
- They made me laugh
- They paid attention to my habits and preferences
- They talked to me and seemed genuinely interested in me as a person
- They let me talk to them, and let me in on some of the details of their lives
- They enjoyed their work
- They enjoyed their co-workers
- They treated everyone with love and provided great service
- They always made me feel like I was their favorite
- They noticed when I got my hair done
- They weren’t shy about giving compliments
- They weren’t afraid to dance
- They made me feel like they missed me when I was gone
- They made me feel like they were going to miss me when I left
- They baked me some cookies (who wouldn’t love that?!)
- They were just awesome people
- They let me hug them (I’m all about the hugs!)
- They turned my frustrating situation into a blessing (because I got to know them)
- They made it so I’ll never forget them
What will you do to win your customers’ hearts? Let us know in the comments how you woo your customers, or what some other business has done to woo you.