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Treat your customers like you want to be treated!

When we think of customer centricity, we should consider two aspects: one, that you need to deliver value to each and every customer and treat them with respect and care - no matter how big or small they are to your business. Two, you need a clear segmentation and idea about which customers are delivering you the most significant value. Delivering extra value to the customers who spend the most with you is okay; this doesn't mean you should underrate the less-value-bringing customers - because rule number one still holds.

Customer Lifetime Value - CLV - is the analysis behind segmenting your customers and developing meaningful strategies for each segment.

Now, let us focus on how to treat your customers with respect and care - no matter what value they bring to your business. I want to share a story that happened to me some 10-15 years ago. I used to live in Atlanta, GA, and one of those days, I went shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue and bought myself a designer bag. It wasn't on sale or anything; this was one of the rare occasions where I paid full price to get the bag - because I loved it so much. (By the way, I still have it after 15 years). Anyway, I started using it and noticed that the inside of the bag had no lining and was coloring everything I put into my purse. Since the color of the bag was blue, all my possessions started turning powder blue. I loved the bag so much that I did not want to return it, and I kept using it, hoping that, eventually, this nuisance would stop. But it didn't.

So, eventually, after two or three months, I decided to go and talk to Saks Fifth Avenue and see what they could do about it. Never in a million years it occurred to me that they would accept the return - as I had been using it for the last two-three months.

So, the salesperson welcomed me and, without blinking an eye, said, "Let me check whether we have another in the stock - and I think there is one - I would gladly exchange it with yours. We figured that some of these bags indeed caused this issue". So, she checked and found the item and ordered it from the warehouse. I was already in awe of the service. But, it wasn't the end of it. Then as she was ringing the exchange, she looked up at me and said, "well, we have started price reductions today, and because we are ringing the exchange, I will also refund you the sale amount (10 or 15% - I don't remember exactly).

That floored me. As a marketer, I was stunned by the service and the mindset. To date, I never forgot this story, and I share it every time I talk about customer centricity. Sure, they might have lost a couple of bucks because of this exchange, but they gained a customer for a lifetime.

So, this is my advice to every retailer: if you want to gain customers for a lifetime, start with empathy. The old adage "treat everyone like you want to be treated" holds exceptionally true in this instance.

Customer centricity is everything.

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