Those of you who know me, or follow me on social media, will have no doubt noticed that I have a cat whom I adore. My Oscar. I am his faithful human and he is my gorgeous fluffball.
Now, apart from giving me an excuse to write a blog and include a photo of Oscar (though this does please me!), I wanted to share some thoughts I had the other day…
As I sat on the uncomfortable wooden chair in my office while Oscar lorded it on my soft office chair (as per!), I looked on in adoration and thought how lucky I was that Oscar, being an outdoor cat, chooses to come home every day to spend time with me and let me service his every need (as is a requirement of all cat owners!).
It then occurred to me, of all the most common pets, cats are pretty much the only species which has the freedom to choose where they reside and who serves them. Think about it. Dogs, loyal and loving as they are, only really leave the house on a lead / with their human close by to ensure that they don’t run off too far and that they return to the home with them. Other small pets are often kept in cages (hamsters, birds, rabbits…) and only let out in confined spaces. Whereas cats, at least outdoor cats, are often free to come and go as they please. And do so on their own (much to my chagrin the very first time I let Oscar out into the big bad world alone!). When I thought about this, I felt a huge sense of privilege that Oscar (and presumably many other cats) chooses to return home each day.
So, what’s this got to do with anything at all, in particular customers as suggested in the title of this blog? Well, the way I see it, Oscar chooses to come home because he knows that he is well cared for, that I do in fact attend to pretty much all of his needs (mostly as and when he requires me to!), and he therefore gets what he wants and needs. By keeping my bedroom window open no matter what weather, because this is his preferred way of entering the house (despite having perfectly functional cat flap downstairs), I hope demonstrates to him that I am willing to go that extra mile for him to.
So – customers. (We’re getting there. Have you figured out where I’m going with this by now??) The thing that occurred to me as I pondered my gratitude that Oscar chooses to come home each day, is that our customers are very much like cats. We cannot keep them in a cage, or on a leash to make sure they don’t wander off to do business with someone else. The only thing we can do is to treat them with as much care as we can. Serve their needs as well as we can. And let them know that we are there for them.
Now there is no guarantee that one day, a neighbour won’t offer him some fresh salmon or a perfectly timed belly rub (not an easy feat let me tell you!), and we have no doubt all heard of cats that do choose to stay away, whether at a nearby house more suited to its needs, or sometimes wander off to who knows where for good. Just as in business, one day a customer may wander off and choose to do business with someone else. We may not know the reasons (though in business it’s always good practice to try to find out – it’s usually easier in this situation than it is in the cat scenario!), and may not be able to do anything about it. But hopefully, most well cared for cats (and customers!), choose to stay.
So, what can we learn from this?
- Learn as much as we can about what our customers need and like (Oscar loves a little rub on his cheek, under his chin or on the top of his head)
- Service this need as best we can (He gets these rubs on a daily basis and thanks me in amplified purrs!)
- Demonstrate on a regular basis that we care (See above! I also know which food he likes, and also which cheeky treats he likes at 5am when he comes to wake me up.)
- Look after our customers and make them feel safe, protected and cared for.
- Go the extra mile whenever we can. (Remember that window I leave open come rain or wind?)
So – don’t try to tie your customers to you unnaturally . Look after them, show them how much you care and go the extra mile. And they’re far more likely to come back to you time and time again.
Just like my ickle Oscar.