Gary Chapman is best known as a marriage counselor. But the lessons he outlined about ‘love languages’ in his bestselling 1995 book are equally as relevant to business relationships as they are to marriages.

In The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, Chapman outlined five ways to express and experience love: gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, and quality time.

By using the right love language, partners can demonstrate the depth of their love to their spouses. However, I think businesses can also benefit from the right “love language.”

Appreciation in the Workplace

In fact, Chapman and co-author Paul White expanded the original ideas in a 2011 follow-up book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. The book aims to help supervisors and managers more effectively communicate appreciation and encouragement to their employees to improve job satisfaction, build better relationships, and decrease burnout.

The ideas are certainly applicable in the workplace.

And I think they are just as meaningful between businesses and customers. ‘Love languages’ provide businesses opportunities to show their customers how much they care — and can help customers fall in love with a company’s products and services.

Let me explain.

Why Love Languages Matter to Businesses

Because I devote a great deal of attention to customer experience, I’m often thinking of ways companies can improve customer relationships. How can businesses let their customers know how much they are appreciated and valued?

From my perspective, businesses face a couple of significant challenges today.

First, customers today have outrageous expectations of the experiences they want businesses to provide — and addressing them is the only way to sustain a competitive edge.

Secondly, businesses have to provide these excellent experiences across more channels than ever before.

To retain customers and attract new ones in today’s hyper-competitive landscape businesses have to take a page from Chapman’s playbook. If they learn to speak their customers’ love language, then communication improves. Customers are more likely to love them.

And why does that matter? In the words of Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator and the co-chair of OpenAI, “It’s better to have 100 users love you than 1 million kinda like you. The true seed of scale is love, and you can’t buy it, hack it, or game it. A product that is deeply loved is one that can scale.

“People don’t stick with products they don’t love.”

Choosing the Right Love Languages

Think about the relationships you have with your customers. What ‘love languages’ provide them the best possible experience with your company?

1. Gifts

Customizable retail loyalty programs can help you create lifetime customers. DSW and Sephora offer two of my favorites. As a member of the DSW VIP Rewards Program, I earn points for every dollar I spend, with no minimum purchases or other limitations. Sephora’s beauty insider loyalty program lets me save my points and select from a variety of items when I opt to redeem them.

2. Words of Affirmation

How would your customer experience improve if you offered more frequent and relevant customer communication? As an example, think of Delta Air Lines, which not only sends push notifications about my flight status, boarding time, and the whereabouts of my bags. It also provides more information on an easy-to-use mobile app.

3. Acts of Service

Acts of service include the cheerful ways you’re greeted in a Chick-fil-A or a Starbucks. It can be the delivery truck driver, who takes the extra effort to bring a package to your covered back porch on a rainy day. It can manifest in many ways that simply say, “I care about your experience with us in this unique interaction.”

4. Physical Touch

I’m going to take a liberty and make this digital touch for the purposes of a marketing blog. Digital touch would mean reaching out to your customers through the channels that make the right sense at the right time. Say someone interacts with your mobile app. Then text messages might be the best digital touch. But if someone interacts from a desktop computer, then email might be the best response. On the other hand, if someone calls into your customer contact center, then perhaps a return phone call is the optimal response. Respect the channel preferences of your customers and always give them choices.

5. Quality Time

Make sure any time your customer spends with you is time well spent. Additionally, be respectful of your customer’s time. Make sure customers know what to expect. Deliver as expected, on time and with the least amount of effort on the part of the customer. And always look for ways to save your customers time. That’s the ultimate customer experience.

For More Information

Want to learn more about deepening relationships with your customers? Email me for more information.

About Arke

Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.