These days, it’s difficult to find a company that doesn’t boast of an “individual approach to the customer”. Meanwhile, often times the only ‘individual’ treatment they get is an individual invoice number. Everything else is a cliché and and routine straight from Barea films. Sometimes this is because we operate in an industry of “one-off transactions” and we’ve calculated that we don’t need to care about building relationships because there are already more customers waiting in the queue (everyone who buys waffles or cotton candy at the beach knows what I mean). Sometimes, however, there’s simply a lack of awareness of what constitutes the mythical “individual approach”. So let’s try to clarify the issue.
The first and perhaps most universal principle we should apply in crafting our individual approach is that nobody wants to be treated like a walking wallet. Therefore, even if we all realise that the first goal in running a business is to generate profit for the owners or shareholders, it’s worth adding that profit can be achieved in two ways: by ‘playing hardball’ or by creating a satisfied customer.
Today, both consumer protection law and social media provide customers with many tools for protecting their money, and their satisfaction with each transaction and service is placed at the forefront. It’s very easy to show customers that we have an ‘individual approach’ when we offer then even more than the legal minimum. For example: customers have the right to return anything within two weeks? Let’s think how the customer will feel if we make an exception “especially for them” and let them return something three weeks after purchase. Processing a customer complaint in accordance with all the procedures? Dear customer, we’ll take care of it for you by tomorrow!
An elite club
Examples such as those described above will allow us to place the clients we care about the most in a special, elite club. Everyone feels better if they belong to such a group. Some companies have done well with this, such as with VIP sales. VIP sales work like this: during the day, the store has normal prices, but after closing time, the door is open to a chosen few who can shop at better prices. It’s important to remember that these “select clubs” only make sense if there are real restrictions on who can join. There’s no sense having an elite club and then inviting half the country - that’s not an individual approach.