Mom, Coffee, & Community


I hope that everyone is having a safe and blessed Thanksgiving holiday. For many of us, these last few days have been a chance to connect and reconnect with friends and family members around the dinner table. We all have our traditions that we follow at this time of year, and our traditions and the people we share them with provide us with a sense of belonging and connectedness that we often take for granted. There’s a lesson there for us about the way we do business.

When I was growing up, my mother stayed at home to manage the household and raise her three kids. The moms in our neighborhood in Charles City, Iowa would often meet for coffee each week in one of their homes. Coffee was a time for sharing the details of their lives, supporting one another through ups and downs, and telling stories while swapping child rearing tips, recipes, and opinions. It was a supportive group outside of their own households that each woman belonged to.

When Mom died in 2008, most of her coffee friends were there at her funeral. None of those ladies lived in the old neighborhood anymore. Times had changed, and so had they, but the powerful bonds of their tiny coffee community from long ago remained strong.

Every organization should seek to create a strong sense of belonging among its customers. You must provide compelling services and innovative solutions to customer problems at a good price. That’s a given, but successful organizations know that they’re dependent on more than a series of transactions. We need people to choose to belong with us over the long haul. To do so, we have to make sure that they feel valued.

Build personal relationships. Connect your customers to their peers, to experts, to solid information, to innovative ideas, and to keen insights. Leave them with great feelings about the experiences that they share with you. Make them feel like they belong with you.

People want to belong. It’s an innate human need. They want to be part of a community. It was true among the neighborhood moms in Charles City, Iowa in 1970. It’s true for all of us today. The people you do business with want to belong to a group, a community which benefits them both quantitatively and qualitatively. The bonds of such a community are strong and lasting. The bonds we share over the Thanksgiving holiday keep us coming back year after year. The bonds of Mom’s coffee group lasted decades after the coffees had ended and her friends had moved away.

That’s the power of community. If we can provide our customers with that sense of belonging, they’ll stay with us forever.

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