Friday, July 9, 2010

Love and Money and Profits

Love has nothing to do with money or profits, on the face of it.

Yet, as I wrote yesterday, love (for customers and employees) is the "killer app" at the heart of such hugely successful businesses as Zappos, Nordstrom, Land's End, and Southwest Airlines.

Warren Buffett believes in love, too.

In the video below, he shares the best advice he ever got in life. It has nothing to do with money, on the face of it.

But Buffett seems to have profited pretty handsomely from it ...

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo! News and the Huffington Post, he credited his father with teaching him how to live, and explained that all parents can make a "better human being":

"The biggest lesson ... was the power of unconditional love. I mean, there is no power on earth like unconditional love. And I think that if you offered that to your child, I mean, you’re 90 percent of the way home. There may be days when you don’t feel like it -— it’s not uncritical love; that’s a different animal -— but to know you can always come back, that is huge in life. That takes you a long, long way. And I would say that every parent out there that can extend that to their child at an early age, it’s going to make for a better human being."

What one thing could you do today to show unconditional -- but not uncritical -- love for your customers?

  • Make a phone call to a customer you've been dreading to talk to, and let them tell you exactly what's on their mind? It may lead to a new product/service idea, or a referral -- or both.

  • Offer an unexpected post-sale bonus to the last 5 people who bought from you? This nearly always produces word-of-mouth advertising -- the best kind.

  • Cheerfully accept a refund request from an unhappy customer and do whatever it takes to turn this negative into a positive? Example: In the past, I've asked customers to write testimonials after requesting refunds, which I then used in my marketing to say, in effect, "Even the clients we can't help recommend us!"

Showing love in these cases may be tough. Call it "tough love" then -- tough on you, easy on your customers.

But when you show true, "tough" love for your customers, you may be creating the world's greatest advertisement for your business.

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