You run a great company and are admired by your peers for your technical prowess and the competency of your employees. You don’t have any problems finding new customers but you find that you struggle to keep them. Sound familiar? Or maybe you know a business that would fit this description?

Some companies struggle with customer retention as they get caught up in the idea of how they can be better and lose sight of the customer and their needs. This can manifest itself in many ways. They try to be:

  • Faster
  • Cheaper
  • Technically more proficient
  • More knowledgeable

and so on…

However, being better, faster or cheaper may not be what your customers really want. Rather than focusing on bettering your skills or efficiency, the key to better customer retention might be much simpler.

Think about this. Have you ever wondered what it is like to be one of your customers? Or have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a customer of one of your competitors?

No? Yes?

How could this help? It is common to focus on making our businesses and teams as good as they can be. However, in the process we can get caught up in our own little world and forget what it is like to be a customer. Spending some time understanding the world from our customers’ perspective can be key to being able to build a long-term relationship with them. It’s also key in building empathy within our business.

A common definition of empathy is being able to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’.

In dictionary terms it is also defined as:

Identifying with, and understanding another’s situation, feelings, and motives.

The basis of deep and meaningful closeness in a relationship is empathy. This is the foundation of the experience of “we” rather than just “I” or “you.” If your customer senses that you really feel how it is for them, they can feel less anxious, stressed, closer and more trusting.

Like any other skill, empathy can be learnt and improved upon. Similarly, you can build empathy into your business and team.

One way this can be done is by Mystery Shopping yourself or your competitors. It’s a technique that has been used since the 1940s as a way of evaluating a company’s performance from its customers’ perspective and can look at all aspects of a business from how easy it is to buy from a business, to how they deal with questions, complaints or their customer service.

Independent agencies can be hired to mystery shop your business or your competitors. On completion, they will then provide detailed reports and feedback on their experiences.

However, it doesn’t end there. What you learn from the Mystery Shopping experience may be great insight but it is what you do with that insight that will really allow you to build greater empathy with your clients and retain them for longer.

This is only one way to build empathy with your customers. What are you doing, or could you be doing, to build this in your business?

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

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