How to connect with customers in a deep and meaningful way

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Have you had an experienced lately where you were treated poorly as a customer? How did you feel? Did it make you resolve with greater determination to serve your customers more effectively?

This is not one of those gripe sessions about experiencing poor customer service. We all have too many examples. Being kept waiting. Ignored even when we are standing in front of the cashier. Glaring errors with restaurant bills. Defective goods that we only find about later when we get home and have to fight to get a replacement or refund.

Consumer websites, consumer watch columns in newspapers and letters to the editor stream in daily from service staff and businesses that treat customers with disrespect. The other day I bought a whole roasted chicken from a large supermarket chain only to find out when I took it home and opened the packet for supper that the chicken had a rotten smell. The whole inside was rotten and smelly. I had to make other plans for supper. When I took the chicken back to the supermarket the next day, the manager apologised but could give no explanation for the rotten roasted chicken. I got a refund but will never buy a roasted chicken from that supermarket ever again.

What’s going on here? The only thing I can think of or put it down to is that some businesses have apparently lost respect for their customers. They seem to be more focused on you as a transaction and how much money they can get from you from each individual sale that the foundational basics of excellent customer service are left by the wayside.

I find a helpful way to understand what’s going on is taking a deeper look at the attitudes that prevail in society. People are judged by their outer appearance with little regard for the fact that they are human beings with hopes, dreams and aspirations, fears and frustrations. They are also labelled as objects to be negated and manipulated.

It’s a pity that people judge you by your outward appearance. Your sex, age (young, middle age or mature), your skin, your facial features, your height, the size of your ears, your head or baldness, – all are used for or against you to make instant snap judgements about you. Yet 99% of who you are is invisible, as Dr Wayne Dyer, the bestselling author, says. Your thoughts, your feelings, your aspirations, your service to others, your life experience are all hidden from view. These outward characteristics are actually used to separate and divide people, pit them against each other, provide favours for those who possess certain outward features and deny and penalise those who don’t.

I am not advocating some sort of deep psychographical or metaphysical understanding of people, whether they are your customers or not. Not at all. All I’m saying is that people who come to your business whether a bricks and mortar store or online website are far more than the sum of their outward appearance and need to be treated with due respect. Even if you are unfortunately repulsed by certain types of people, the least that you can do is to show tolerance.

Instead of seeing customers as a mere transaction or an inconvenience, except if they have money and shut up, no matter how they are treated, a little awareness and recognition of them as human beings beyond their outer appearance whatever that might be will help any business deepen their connection with their customers.

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