AMiable Solution #280: Raising Independent Customers
Parents hope they’re raising their kids to become competent, independent individuals. They want to teach them to think on their own and eventually stand on their own two feet.
Many companies and marketers, however, think they need to create dependent individuals and companies. They want their customers to believe they couldn’t function without the services or the products that their companies provide.
What’s so wrong about that? We want our customers to need us, right?
The difference is the way we handle the relationship and treat the customer. We want our customers to actively choose us, not feel trapped by us. We want to give them the confidence to make wise decisions and the confidence to turn to us when they need help.
How do we do that?
First, you have to lay the foundation for a good relationship. Like any good parent, you earn your customers’ trust with your actions. Be respectable and honest. Show them your commitment to their welfare and well-being. Communicate clearly and be easy to communicate with.
Then, give them their independence. Provide your customers with the tools they need to succeed. Offer guidance on using the tools and on overcoming obstacles. Provide positive feedback and encouragement. Instead of focusing on what they’re doing wrong, emphasis what they could do better and show them how. And, make it clear that you know your customers make their own decisions and can choose someone or somewhere else at any time.
No one wants to feel pressured to be in a relationship, and the provider-customer relationship is no different. When you treat your customers like important members of the family, everything else will fall into place.