I was visiting with a friend recently who leads a sales organization. During our conversation, he told me that his sales team is responsible for the care and feeding of their customers. In that moment, and for several days thereafter, I was put off by that description. I couldn’t help but feel like they view their customers as pets. Care and feeding? Really? Are they just animals in captivity that need their basic needs met by caretakers?
I wrestled with this objection and engaged in several conversations about it over the ensuing weeks. I was irked at the analogy (which I had created in my own mind) and was having difficulty coming back from it.
After contemplating it for nearly a month now, I’ve come to a sort of peace with the notion and now feel differently about it.
It’s true. When we have customers (clients, parishioners, children, take your pick), we DO have a responsibility to care for and feed them. Your customers need you to be a source of information and serve as a resource to them. Your customer already get lip service about how much you care ABOUT them, but are they really getting that you’re caring FOR them? If you are in a business that provides products or services to others, you have an obligation to provide your customers with new and useful information. If you work with several customers, you probably have the opportunity the share best practices with multiples of your customers. You are in an enviable position of helping your customers to learn from the mistakes of others. What a luxury for your customers!
- Make sure your customers know that you are caring FOR them, not just ABOUT them or the money they spend.
- Make sure they understand that you have their interests in mind as you bring new solutions, products, or services to them.
- Make sure you’re following up with your customers to understand how your ideas are helping them with their needs.
- Make sure your customers know they have an open line to you and are invited to provide feedback or express needs.
- Make sure your customers know that they are important to you, and their business, not only matters, is critical to the survival of your business.
- Provide your customers with new information that helps hem remain competitive and vital.
- Offer your customers opportunities for education and new venues for informing themselves.
- Get other outside parties involved with your customers, so you demonstrate your access to resources.
- Give away the best information you have to your customers so they can improve themselves and the services they provide to the people they serve.
In the end, I obviously made peace with the idea of Care & Feeding in the context of customer care. Honestly, I have come to be a fan of the idea and how it differentiates us in the service of those we serve. Now, go back and replace the word “customer” with one that is more meaningful to you. Make that replacement and re-read this all the way through. See if there are some changes you can make that would care for and feed others more effectively and completely.
We are responsible for the care and feeding of each other. Tomorrow Begins Today.