“Brands that love customers find customers that love brands.” – Boomtown
Your company’s image depends on the perception of its customers. This would be true for any company. Hence, it is important for your company to assess constantly whether customers love or hate you – depending on which, your company would need to make its strategies and align its processes. Customers that love the company would require different types of communication, while those who seem to hate it would need ‘kid glove’ handling. Companies are most often responsible for the reaction of customers towards them – loving or hating from customers would be a response towards how the company may have treated them, and or the quality and pricing of their products.
Focusing on the needs of customers must not remain a stressful and thankless job in any organization. If this were to happen, employees would naturally provide shoddy service, which in turn would lead to unhappy customers. Whether customers love or hate you depends on the kind of treatment your employees mete out to customers, and the behaviour of employees would depend on how they are treated by the company. Your company could have customer service as part of its values, mission and vision statements, but if in practice the customers remained ignored and treated with disrespect, it would be highly unlikely that they would stay with you, much less love you. In most companies, the norm is focusing on internal matters – pleasing the boss and other senior people – focus on customers is largely absent. We therefore, reiterate, if customers love or hate you, it would be because of something your company may have done or not done.
If customers love you, your company would be a lot more at rest with business coming in a steady flow. If on the other hand, they hate you your company could face some serious problems. However, most companies tend to ignore or feel bitter towards customers that hate them, which is perhaps the worst approach towards such customers. In fact, your company must use the anger and bitterness of these customers as an opportunity to improve, and bring them back to the side of loving your company. If customers love or hate you – either way they are giving you feedback. This means that they care enough about your company and its products to convey their feelings, and are more than willing to give you an opportunity to get better. Customers who hate you and express their feelings, are much better than the silent ones that leave without a word – not respecting the association enough to let you know what went wrong. It is impossible for a company to improve or enhance what it does if its customers do not provide feedback.
Depending on whether customers love or hate you, your company must listen to them, respond, take their advice, and act swiftly on their words. Even customers that may be mad at you would be willing to listen to your suggestions if they can perceive your commitment to making things better and easier for them. Whether customers love or hate you, your company would have something to learn from them. In addition, it would save your company a lot of trouble by paying attention to the customers that are miffed – even a single negative online comment can seriously dampen the prospects of your company, especially if there are no positive comments to salvage the situation.
Ignoring any kind of feedback from customers is a huge mistake, and becomes a fatal one if the feedback is negative. Not only are customers mad at you for lousy service, but their ire would be ignited further at being slighted and ignored. If customers love or hate you enough, they will provide feedback and hence it makes sense to remain prepared with appropriate responses in either case. The faster and more relevant responses your company can provide, the more likely it is that customers would provide good online reviews and spread the positive word of mouth. Research shows that even irate customers whose issue would have been satisfactorily resolved, have a better chance at becoming loyal customers and fans of a company. This in turn would mean that they would talk well about your company to many more people, thereby increasing the reach and awareness of your company.
The very survival of companies today depends on the attitude of customers towards them. There would be no business without customers, hence whether your customers love or hate you, make the most of it in a timely manner. The fact is that it is a lot easier to retain existing customers, even the irate ones, than it is to attract new ones. They would already know what your company would be capable of delivering, after all, they were happy customers once, and it would take comparatively lesser effort to convince them of your company’s abilities again. Whether customers love or hate you depends, on the kind of experiences they have with your company. Customer feelings towards your company would depend on two levels of experiences – one whether they perceive quality and value in your offerings to be commensurate with the money they may be paying you. The other level is when they believe that they are receiving the appropriate value, but do not feel valued and appreciated by your company. In both cases, customers love or hate you simultaneously. However, it would be best to do away with the ‘hate’ portion, and focus on building the love.
We know that today’s customer buys from and engages with a company to satisfy their emotional needs first, over their rational ones. Hence, depending on whether customers love or hate you, your company would either be fulfilling those emotional needs or ignoring them. Emotional needs are satisfied best by top class service that ensures your customers feel important, welcome, appreciated, and wanted.
If customers love or hate you, it means that your company would be responsible for those feelings in some way. It is sensible to focus first on changing the haters to satisfied customers, to avoid any negativity and poor publicity of your company. Remaining open to feedback and suggestions would show your customers that your company is committed to their cause, and needs, and the incidents that upset them would not be repeated in the future. The idea is to ensure that a spark of negativity does not ignite into a full-fledged fire that could potentially consume your whole business. Happy customers, over time can convert to loyal ones, which means, that they could prove instrumental in helping your company better its products, design new ones, market them through word of mouth, and even put in efforts to sell these products for your company. Without added costs and effort, a company would have an ‘army’ of willing people increasing its reach and awareness amongst untapped customer bases and markets. Whether your company places control in the hands of its customers or not, would determine if customers love or hate you. Does your company know if its customers love or hate it?
This is now undoubtedly the age of the customer and if customers love or hate you, would depend on whether your company has accepted the customer’s supremacy or not. Companies still holding on to traditional means of conducting business – that is where the company maintains control – would soon find themselves staring into the face of oblivion. Conversely, companies that manage to keep pace with the change in the balance of power would be accepted and loved by customers more easily. It is time to reinvent your company, relook at your relationship with your customers putting them at the core of whatever you do. How soon and efficiently your company manages to make these changes would determine whether customers love or hate you.