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When It Comes to Customer Relationships, Are You a Dog or a Cat? Posted by Scorpion | 7.18.14 3:03pm

We have all heard the clichés over the years. "Take care of your customers or someone else will." "Customer service is not a department, it's everyone's job." "Rule 1: The customer is always right. Rule 2: Re-read rule 1." The list goes on and on.

We are in a very competitive industry where customer loyalty can be very difficult to maintain. We all know what we are supposed to do to keep customers happy and there are a gazillion articles of regurgitated advice on this topic, but despite that there is still a huge problem with customer retention in most companies.

Here is a different take on the topic that I hope you find refreshing and maybe a little entertaining.

The other day I was relaxing with my wife and children on the patio. I looked down at my feet and there, as always, was our faithful pooch Paige, lying in between our feet. I looked around to see if we were going to be lucky enough to be graced with the presence of our cat this particular time--as usual, she was nowhere to be found.

Curiosity got the best of me so I wandered throughout the house to find her. After searching every room, I finally found her lying in a ray of sunshine coming through our daughter's bedroom window. She was stretched out on her back with her front paws curled inwards and one eye half open, basking in the warm sun in a near-comatose state.

It dawned on me that there are some very different character traits between cats and dogs and that humans, when it comes to business, can learn something from our furry family members about customer relationships.

Here is what I learned in my observations of my dog and cat:

  1. A dog is dedicated to each member of the family. A cat for the most part could care less about anyone until they are ready to be fed.
  2. A dog is eager to greet you when you arrive home. A cat will not expend any energy to lift up its head off the floor to acknowledge you have arrived.
  3. A dog will have remorse and lower its ears and tail when it makes a mistake or steals food. A cat will just walk off and lick its paws and look at you like you are the crazy one for being upset.
  4. A dog loves to spend time on walks with its family members. Ever try taking a cat on a walk? You will have better luck (and more fun) putting a rock on a leash and dragging that around.
  5. A dog is always eager to show you some new toy or ball that is in its mouth. A cat may show up occasionally with a dead bird, but it is the same old thing every time and they always act like they are doing you a favor by bringing it to you.

Now, how does this translate into the world of business and practicing outstanding customer relationship skills? Let's take each one in the same order:

  1. A dog is dedicated to each member of the family. A cat for the most part could care less about anyone until they are ready to be fed. It is vital to develop customer relations with as many of the influential members of the company as possible. Having strong relationships with multiple people will only solidify your company's value to the organization. Also, people leave companies and it could be detrimental to your business if the only person that you had as an advocate for your services is no longer there.
  1. A dog is eager to greet you when you arrive home. A cat will not even expend any energy to lift up its head off the floor to acknowledge you have arrived. Whether your customer is visiting your office or you are visiting theirs, treat them, sincerely, like they are the most important customer you have. Show excitement and enthusiasm when you meet and show them why their business is a vital part of your company, whether they are the smallest account on the books or the largest.
  2. A dog will have remorse and lower its ears and tail when it makes a mistake or steals food. A cat will just walk off and lick its paws and look at you like you are the crazy one for being upset. Mistakes happen in business. We are only human and it is vital to act human when something goes wrong. Take responsibility when due and never get on the defensive, whether justified or not. Customers want to be heard. They want their feelings validated. By just listening and showing empathy most situations can be resolved with minimal or no damage done to the relationship.
  3. A dog loves to spend time on walks with its family members. Ever try taking a cat on a walk? You will have better luck (and more fun) putting a rock on a leash and dragging that around. Make the effort to spend time with your customers outside of the office. You do not have to be fishing buddies with your customer but a little bit of entertaining can go a long way in solidifying your partnership with their company. Lunch, dinner, golf. Spending time with them to do something other than showing them the next thing they need to buy from you separates you from 90% of the other cats out there.
  4. A dog is always eager to show you some new toy or ball that is in its mouth. A cat may show up occasionally with a dead bird, but it is the same old thing every time and they always act like they are doing you a favor by bringing it to you. If you really care about the success of your customers business than think outside the box. Bring them ideas that are new and fresh. Keep them informed of changes in your industry and theirs. Become a student of their business. Show them that you are invested in their future, not just your own. Become an extension of their business and become an invaluable asset to the influencers in the company.

So the question you need to ask yourself is evident. Are you a dog or a cat? Which would you prefer to be? If your answer is a cat then you need to take a good hard look inside yourself and determine if you are in the right business. It may be time to look into doing something new. If you are a dog then you are barking up the right tree. But if you ever find yourself becoming a cat, adjust! Or things just might get ruff.