With Customers, Your Insights Matter. Here’s How to Share Them the Right Way.
We have worked with several automotive service chains over the years that provide everything from auto parts, to oil changes, to tires and brake jobs. One of the most effective ways we have seen them earn loyalty is to share information with customers about what their vehicle may need in the future, but only recommend a shorter list of things that really need to be addressed that day.
Educating customers and postponing a potential sale to a later date earns trust and is perceived as generous.
Sharing our insights to help customers can certainly earn their loyalty. And so does asking customers to share their insights with us when we follow up and ask how we could have served them better. It feels good when others ask for our opinions and ideas because we all want to be useful, to be valued, and to make a contribution.
The same is true with our co-workers. We earn their loyalty by sharing information to help them improve and by asking for their insights to help us improve.
This is sharing without intending to help or make things better. Complaining, confronting, criticizing, or just plain gossiping about other people is not the kind of sharing that builds loyalty.
Criticism and gossip can be particularly damaging in a team environment.
For those being gossiped about, the damage is obvious as their reputation is essentially stolen from them. For those doing the gossiping, there is also a price to pay. Gossip erodes personal credibility because it reflects insecurity and powerlessness.
Why Aren’t We Sharing Insights Openly?
We all have ideas and insights that can help others. Why do we sometimes hesitate to share them? One reason could be that we are busy and already have too much on our plate. More often, however, the reason we may not share our thoughts to help other team members is that we don’t want to offend them or rock the boat. We can see their problems clearly but choose to avoid potential conflict.
Our intention is clearly to help, not to hurt their feelings or undermine our relationship in any way.
How Do We Share Insights Openly?
We need a team culture where it is not only safe but encouraged to give what Fred Reichheld calls “loving feedback” to each other—sharing thoughts, feedback, and ideas with another person in a way that earns their loyalty.
There’s nothing better than a great coach who has our best interests in mind, inspires us to get better, and helps us win. On our journey to increasing customer loyalty, all of us can use coaching—especially on the loyalty principles and practices.
First, a good coach is, above all, a good model.
Second, a good coach is a two-way communicator.
We often think of coaching as “telling,” but it needs to be just as much about listening to learn. By the way, the opposite is just as bad—giving no direction at all and expecting employees to solve problems without coaching from us. This is abdicating the responsibility that is needed to earn loyalty.
Finally, a coach looking to build loyalty doesn’t command people to change their ways.
Coaching that builds loyalty is a sharing of insights. A great insight isn’t worth much if we can’t share it effectively and get others to act on it. Here are some loyalty-building guidelines for effective coaching:
- Recognize a job well done.
- Declare your intent.
- Be positive and encouraging.
Recognize a Job Well Done
People will be more open to our insights and coaching if we begin by letting them know we respect and recognize the good work they are already doing. “You do great work here.” This feedback has to be honest and genuine but doesn’t need to be lengthy.
Declare Your Intent
State upfront that you just want to share an idea to help them. It is not to criticize them in any way. “I just want to be helpful. I noticed something in your conversation with Ms. Sadek and want to share this thought with you. Is that okay? Is now a good time?”
Be Positive and Encouraging
Our tone of voice and body language needs to be warm and welcoming. The other person should feel we are on their side and only interested in their continued success. They should feel the Three Core Loyalty Principles of empathy, responsibility, and generosity from us.
How often are you sharing insights with your team? As a loyalty leader, this is some of the most important work you can do to foster loyalty from team members and customers alike.
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