In the last blogpost, Dennis wrote about how a golf game transformed our marriage, he described how my lost golf club, and an experience with a customer who had also lost a club, made him think about customer care. He wondered what it would be like if we applied customer service concepts to our marriage. In this post I will describe you how I reacted to the idea.
When Dennis told me what happened on the golf course, we talked about his feelings and our relationship. At that time, we had been married for 30 years (now 39). We wanted another thirty, but we also knew there are no guarantees. In examining our comfortable routine, we realized something was missing. We weren’t questioning our commitment for one another, but we worried about drifting apart as we had seen so many other couples do. We needed something to help us recover the magic we felt in the beginning.
Until now we had never thought about the connection between customer care in business and caring for each other at home.
We kicked around what would happen if we applied customer care principles to our marriage. Would it significantly change how we felt toward each other? Would it feel mechanical and unromantic? Would it kill spontaneity and make things feel calculated? Would it lead to keeping score, something neither of us believed in, or practiced? On the other hand, for the past 30 years we had been inventing new products together, so why not create a new way to think about staying in love?
When you think about it, dating is the ultimate in customer service. You are on your best behavior. You want to get to know everything you can about this fabulous human being at the center of your universe. No detail is insignificant. You spend hours thinking about what you can do to make the relationship better. Every comment is significant. Every glance holds meaning and romance. You spend hours comparing how you are alike and different. Will the relationship feel this good tomorrow, next week, next month, in 30 years?
So, we decided to test our new idea. The first week was an experiment, and we were hyper-alert about finding ways to surprise or please one another. It almost became a competition as love notes appeared in unexpected places and chores were done without reminders. We found ourselves smiling more and hugging more and remembering what it was like to put one another first before anyone or anything else. It felt like we were dating again.
At the end of the week, we evaluated our test results. Should we continue our customer service experiment or give it up? It was a simple choice, and one of the most important ones we’ve made in our marriage. By choosing to demonstrate our love for one another every day, not because we have to, but because we choose to, we discovered an amazing power to take our marriage from good to great.
Great Service Sparks Romance
You may feel that thinking of your true love as a customer demeans them or makes you a servant who must be available at all times to provide whatever your partner wants. That might be true if you didn’t come together as equal customers of each other. For this to work, you have to be equal partners and understand that some days, or even weeks, one of you will require more attention than the other. It’s a gift that fulfills the vows you exchanged on your wedding day.
Granted, talking about customer service may not sound romantic, but the more we practiced being customers of each other, the more we realized how much romance is also sparked by respect, fair treatment, trust, loyalty, reciprocation and by fulfilling expectations. They are the same values customers care about and companies use to build brand loyalty.
We already loved each other deeply, but we had no idea how much more we could learn about how to show it. As we continued upping our level of customer care, we became even more conscious of each other’s needs and how to fulfill them. It turned out to be the secret to staying happily in love.
We learned new skills for how to care for each other. We learned that caring manifests itself in many forms and each form carries an immense power to shape and reshape both business and marriage. Within a few months we both felt that becoming customers of each other took us to a higher level of understanding, appreciation and love. Treating one another as customers stimulated us to discover practical ways to care that we had never consciously considered.
Your true love deserves the best treatment you can deliver, and one way you can both get it is by adopting behaviors that satisfy each other’s needs. Learning how successful companies delight their customers and applying that knowledge and skill to how you treat one another at home can recharge your relationship and keep love growing. More about that in upcoming posts.