Relationships are already hard enough in one’s personal life. But customer relationships add a whole new level of complication to the mix.
Which is probably why you feel like a king running a kingdom rather than a business owner. And sometimes, maybe, you feel like you’re going mad talking about loyalty and branding.
Maybe you wish a dragon would come and burn away all your problems so you could start fresh. Dragons are useful. Unfortunately, they’re only the stuff of fantasy.
But we can learn a thing or two about customer relationships from fantasy. Particularly from the Targaryens in Game of Thrones.
So, let’s take a look at the Targaryens and what you should — or maybe shouldn’t — emulate in your business practices.
1. The Madness of Aerys: Are You An Inconsistent Mess?
For King Aerys II, customer retention wasn’t particularly important. I mean, when you burn your constituents alive just cause the voices in your head tells you to, you obviously don’t care much for your image.
But that’s not the only reason we don’t want to follow the example of the late rightful king of the Seven Kingdoms. The man’s madness had no rhyme or reason to it.
And that’s what I want to zero in on today. Inconsistency.
Customers expect a brand to be consistent. Starbucks is a great example of this.
If you walk into any Starbucks in the world, their caramel macchiato will taste exactly the same. Thus Starbucks retains customers through consistency and reliability.
But not only are their products consistent, their customer relations are consistent. At every stop, you hear your order called by your own name. They hardly get your order wrong. They let you stay as long as you want.
Essentially, customer relationship consistency goes all the way down to the little things.
And you can transfer this over to any business. Even B2B businesses can take note.
Is your communication consistently at the right level? Are your procedures and protocols ensuring that every customer is treated fairly every time and in the same manner?
Customer retention should be your number one priority, even above customer acquisition. In fact, you can increase your profitability by 75% if you up your customer retention by only 5%.
So make sure you have strict customer relations policies in place. These will ensure your customer relations are consistent.
2. You Will Bend The Knee
Daenarys is a proud queen. She is the rightful heir of the Seven Kingdoms.
But she would probably make a terrible customer relationships manager.
When you demand that even the man you’re in love with “bends the knee,” you’re probably not going to treat your customers any better.
But where does the line lie between “the customer is always right” and “you will bend the knee”?
The customer can’t ALWAYS be right. They’re not the experts in your field. You are.
But you can’t just lord your expertise over your customers like you would a misbehaving child either.
You do have a responsibility, however, to educate your customers gently. And many businesses actually do this without losing business.
Consider the healthcare field. If doctors always gave patients exactly what they wanted rather than what they needed, would people get better or worse?
The best b2b marketing strategies set your business up as The Expert in whatever product you’re selling. Yes, the customer uses the product and they might be The Expert in the field. But you specialize in your product. And you know it best.
So, in this case, “you will bend the knee” might actually be appropriate. As long as you don’t actually say “you will bend the knee.”
How does one go about communicating to the customer that they should submit to your expertise?
First, acknowledge the customer’s concerns. Their concerns are always valid.
And then lay down the law…gently. Nicely. As if you were talking to someone you love dearly.
3. Dragons Solve Everything
Sometimes dragons do solve your issues. For one, Daenerys dragons are extremely effective at slaying massive armies in one burb.
Dragon fire is one of the great persuaders in the Game of Thrones universe, and Daenerys holds all the dragons, literally.
But I don’t recommend you take Daenerys approach to her problems, especially when it comes to customer relationships.
While, yes, consistency is key to customer retention, you shouldn’t treat your customers like cardboard cutouts either. That’s another thing Starbucks excels at: customization.
While your experience at each Starbucks should be consistent. I should be personal as well.
If you hang out in a cafe and the employee says the exact same phrases to each customer without changing a word, you know they don’t understand consistency and personalization.
The Human to Human Interaction
Even if someone represents a whole business, they’re still a human being. And over time you will build your relationship with that person and their business.
If you are observant, you will begin to see how to customize each customer’s experience. If you’re a B2B, then this will change over time. You will garner lasting business relationships if your customer relationships are dynamic.
If you are a B2C, you might not have the luxury of longer relationships. Some companies see different customers every week.
You might have initial impressions to use as a template for each interaction. And this is a skill you can build over time.
But as you practice tailoring your customer relations to each person, you’ll find it’s easy to pick up on what people enjoy hearing from you.
And you can actually leverage data to boost your abilities and enhance the customer experience. Utilize leading technologies like predictive analysis to upsell and cross sell to customers.
All of this can be done while keeping in mind your company’s policies and your expertise.
While it’s tempting to either adopt a one-size-fits-all/dragons solve everything or a mad and inconsistent customer relationships approach, it’s not wise.
Ditch the Targaryen way and start treating your customers like people. You’ll quickly find that your customers actually stick around to find out what you have to sell.
Are you a Targaryen? Have you found ways to improve customer relationships? Let me know in the comments below.