Employee Treats All the Customers Like Friends

What do you call your customers? Do you call them “;customers”;? Maybe you call them clients, members, guests, patients, residents…; the list can go on and on.

Some people say that the term “;client”; implies a long-term relationship. Isn”;t that what you want with all of your customers–;a long-term relationship in which the customer continues to pay for what you sell? Of course!

Then there is the term “;guest.”; I get that you may be a guest of a hotel or a restaurant. What about a guest at a car dealership or retail clothing store? Most people would call them customers. Actually, I like that businesses that would normally call a customer a “;customer”; promote them to the level of guest.

I have written about this before. The last article resulted from an Ace Hardware store referring to their customers as neighbors. When a customer walks through the door, an employee yells out, “;Welcome, neighbor!”; (Sounds a lot better than, “;Welcome, customer!”;)

That brings me to a message I received from Antonia Sismani, one of our faithful subscribers. She wanted an opinion on why we call the experience a customer experience. In her mind, using the word “;customer”; puts distance between customers and the company. She feels it should be a people experience or a human being experience, and that if you really want to connect emotionally to the customer–;which is one of the drivers of repeat business–;then we must get closer to them. She asked, “;Don”;t you think that if we rename the customer experience to the people experience that it would be enhanced and more mature? The goal is to have a more positive impact on everyone”;s minds.”;

I like the way you think, Antonia! In business, I”;ve always believed that people do business with people. Even if they are doing business online, they are still interacting with a website that was designed by people to be used by people. I”;m not sure that the word “;customer”; creates distance, but changing the word to something other than customer, such as people–;or guest, client, member or even neighbor–;could bring that customer emotionally closer. Changing the language isn”;t a big change, but in this case, it could emphasize the relationship that you and your organization are trying to achieve, which is that better connection with your customers–;make that people–;that makes them want to continue to do business with you.

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