If you’re a service organization, big or small, one of the things you probably spend a lot of time thinking about is ‘what can we do to make sure that our customers stay with our organization and continue to use our services?’ In this day and age, it’s easy for customers to find companies offering similar services to switch to.

In my opinion, the best way your service organization can differentiate itself is in the way you ‘care for your customers’; ‘care for them from the moment they begin using your services and in each and every customer service experience they have with your company, whether it’s placing an order, calling to have a question answered or even complaining when something has gone wrong.

Many organizations use the phrase ‘managing the client lifecycle’ to describe the interactions that they have with their customers over time. In my opinion, there’s a fundamental difference in the service your company will provide, which creates the experience your customers will have, if, as an organization, you think of those interactions as ‘managing the client lifecycle’ or if, instead, organizationally, you think of them as ‘caring for your customer’.

Let’s explore the difference and why it’s so important for your customers and your company.

  1. Customers are people. Each is unique with their own particular life circumstances, wants and needs. Things change regularly in their lives, just as they do in yours. When they interact with your service organization, they want to be treated like ‘people’ – human beings – their wants and needs and circumstances understood and valued. To put it simply, your customers want to be cared about and cared for.
  2. Usually, we ‘manage’ things. Our email…our bills and finances…our schedules. And things aren’t living and breathing; they’re not alive and they don’t have feelings like our customers do. They’re just ‘things’.
  3. When we manage some’thing’, it’s usually for OUR convenience. Think about meetings you’ve been in to discuss, ‘managing the client lifecycle’. Maybe you were discussing how to better ‘train your clients’ to follow YOUR systems, to use the tools YOU provide them more consistently so that YOUR service providers can work more easily and take on more clients.

To me, this is backwards thinking: as a service organization you need to stop focusing on ‘what my client do can do for ME’ and start focusing on ‘what CAN WE DO for our customer’, the living, breathing person who, with each and every service experience is developing a relationship with your company. A relationship in which, they, as your organization’s customer, want to be ‘cared for’, not ‘managed’.

So, if your service organization is serious about keeping your customers over the long-term, my suggestion is that you stop talking about ways to ‘manage the client lifecycle’ (which has the idea of a built in ending already anyhow) and start actively looking for ways to ‘care for your customers’: ‘care’ for them as people, ‘care’ for them in ways that deepen the real human relationships that you have with each of them. ‘Care’ for them in ways that keeps that relationship alive.

The words that we use matter. They create the thoughts and attitudes that influence our actions, and the culture of our organizations.

If your service organization wants to differentiate itself, stop talking about ‘managing the client lifecycle’ and start talking about ‘caring for our customers’. If your organization truly ‘cares for your customers’, and looks for ways to treat them as the unique human beings they are, you’ll build relationships that deepen over time and you won’t ever have to worry about them leaving at all!