Do You Know Your Customer’s Love Language?

Photo Credit: Nate Grigg via CC License

Photo Credit: Nate Grigg via CC License

This post was originally published on the FCR blog on November 6, 2015.  Click here to read the original.

In all honesty, I feel a little weird about the title of this blog post, but let me spend the next five hundred or so words telling you why it’s important.  Some time ago, my wife and I read the book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. The five languages are:

  • Gifts
  • Acts of service
  • Quality time
  • Words of affirmation
  • Physical touch.

Love Languages In Relationships

In the book, he talks about these languages and that different people have different ways of feeling loved.  For example, my wife’s primary love language is gifts – but not just any old gift.  She wants to be surprised and delighted with gifts and that’s how she’s reminded that I love her.  My language on the other hand iswords of encouragement, so I love being told that I’m doing a good job.

In relationships we tend to demonstrate love using our primary love language.  Speaking someone else’s love language can feel like speaking a foreign language.  I’m often better at giving my wife words of affirmation, when all the while, she’s wondering why I don’t ever surprise her with flowers.  This has proved to be a valuable exercise in learning how to love, value, and appreciate.

Love Languages In Business Relationships

This got me thinking about some recent experiences in working with our clients.  As a business, our clients are our lifeblood.  Without clients, there’s no business.  We are constantly looking for ways to partner with our clients to deliver an effortless customer experience.

Like any relationship, there can sometimes be a disconnect where the information we provide to clients is not of any value to them and doesn’t help them make effective business decisions.   It’s critical that we check in often with our clients to ensure that we are in fact speaking the same language.  KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that we agree on are a great way to make sure that we measure and perform at or above the level they expect.  Regularly sharing insights about how to improve processes and the customer experience are incredibly valuable.

Love Languages with Customers

As an outsourcer, the word “customers” has another meaning.  We also serve our clients’ customers.  Let’s think about Love Languages in the context of a customer service relationship.  There’s obviously no time over the course of a customer service call to determine a customer’s love language, but that’s also what makes great customer service representatives great.

Our training manager, Sheri Kendall-DuPont defines compassion as “empathy coupled with action.”  Isn’t that great?  It’s about recognizing the needs of customers and responding first to their situation and emotional state.  Then we move to a strong willingness to help and ownership of their issue.

In a way, wouldn’t you say that empathy is like a superpower that allows us to recognize the love language of the customers we are speaking with?  Before this post gets any sappier, here are some ways to appreciate our customers using the Five Love Languages:

  • Gifts – Many companies send SWAG to customers as an extra thank you for their business.  We’ve even gone so far as to send flowers to a customer when we heard they were recovering from illness or recently lost a loved one.  More and more companies are doing this sort of thing.  Also, don’t forget the power of a simple thank you note.
  • Acts of service – Going the extra mile for a customer can make a huge difference.  Sure, maybe the customer could resolve their issue on their own.  What if we instead do it for them, and at the same time, tell them how they can do it on their own–next time.  While we’re at it, we can answer the questions they didn’t know to ask.
  • Quality time – More and more companies are moving away from strictly managing handle times and are focusing more on the customer experience.  Let’s give customers the time they need to work through their issue and take a few extra moments to ask them how their day is going in the process.
  • Words of affirmation – Thank the customer for calling.  There are no stupid questions!  Always tell customers that we appreciate the fact that they chose to do business with us.
  • Physical touch – This is the trickiest one in a contact center but here’s a stab at it.  Following through on a commitment to call the customer back can go a long way.  In addition, there’s always the overused saying that customers can hear a smile through the phone.  A great attitude can really make customers feel welcomed and appreciated.

The moral of this story is that personal, business and customer service relationships aren’t really all that different.  It’s often a matter of determining how the other most feels appreciated and valued.  In all three cases, the relationship is at its best when both parties are committed to this.

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Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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