When is the best time to invest in your customer experience? 18 months ago.
When is the second-best time? NOW!
You and your company are either an expense that can be found cheaper somewhere else, or one of the few businesses that customers can't live without.
In order to be the brand customers can't live without, you need to focus on creating an emotional connection on every interaction with your clients. Here are 7 ways to create an emotional connection with your customers.
1. Focus on the Micro-Moments
Too many companies and employees think if the results/outcomes are achieved, the customer will be happy. However, it is scientific proof that outcomes have the least to do with customer loyalty. The order was accurate, my steak was prepared medium rare, my gray roots are covered. Those all better happen, but by themselves, results and outcomes are a commodity.
Customer loyalty is a result of consistently delivering on the micro moments, at each touchpoint, whether a customer calls, emails, checks in or needs support. Were your team members knowledgeable, empahetic, patient, passionate about their job, easy to do business with, and willling to make it right?
2. Address the Relationship Deficit
Technology has made it easier for us to navigate through our busy lives, but it also erodes the fundamental element of human connections. When communicating digitally, often it can lack a human touch, which creates a sterile transaction and lack of emotional connection. Today, being forced into a virtual world is adding to these unintended consequences, which we call a relationship deficit.
As we've been forced to practice social distancing, people have realized how much they crave human connection. Not being able to dine with friends, see family members or interact with coworkers has put a strain on the human spirit. That is why the businesses that create emotional connections will dominate.
In the first business I started, John Robert's Spas, some of the stylists are the most talented technicians on the plantet. And, there are others ones thart are prettyh good, but technically can't hold a candle to the first group. Yet some of the less technically talented stylists are completely booked out for weeks, way more than the talented ones. Why? Because of their relationship building skills.
3. Avoid Empathy Fatigue
Empathy Fatigue usually occurs in industries that constantly deal with customers who have high emotional pain, like funeral homes, behavior therapy or oncology. However, with today's world, every business is dealing with customers who have high stress and anxiety.
This can cause our employees to feel emotionally and physically drained which leads to a diminished ability to empathize or feel compassion for others. That is why as leaders we have to constantly be helping our employees reenergize, rejuvenate, feel appreciated, and understand the critical role they play in their customers' lives. This not only results in the customer feeling better, but the employee will be less likely to burn out.
4. Make your Customers Feel Something
The #1 best customer service we can provide is being a positive escape with every person we come in contact with. You have to create an emotional connection that is so engaging and compelling that the customer literally 'feels' something after.
In her blog, Why is Starbucks so Successful Desite its Mediocre Coffee, Liz Margalit wrote, "What drives today's customers are emotions and feelings, some of which can't be expressed in words and are triggered unconsciously. The most important element in customers choosing who they buy from is how a brand makes them feel. Companies like Apple don't sell a product, they sell a brand that embodies a delicate mix of dreams and aspirations. That's why Apple's ads don't show product features like memory, speed or device weight. The commercials are designed to provide sensory stimulation."
So how do you create such an experience and train your employees to provide it? Examine every touchpoint in the customer journey to see if you have built in the feeling of 'cared for' in the journey.
5. Find the Conversation Gifts
It is all about finding the conversation Gift--there is a gift in every conversation. If you look for it, you will see it. By now most of you are familiar with FORD (family, occupation, recreation, and dreams) and probably have implemented it in your business. (If not, watch video below.)
Now, more than ever, focusing on FORD during conversations, especially virtually is critical, and it is easy. This helps you find the conversation gift--professionally and personally. Let me show you how.
Many of the clients we work with have easilty customized their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to add FORD fields, something you check either before or during an interaction with a customer and update after. I want to show you a fantastic best practice we use at The DiJulius Group and many of our clients have started doing the same with great results. Even though we have the FORD fields in our CRM system, we srongly recommend, that when you are at your computer, you use a FORD tablet (see below).
This FORD tablet not only helps to collect key customer intelligence during calls, but it is also a great tool to prep for a call. Now for any scheduled calls/meetings I have on my calendar, I will do a little prep before the call. Typically, first think in the morning, I will fill out what I already know from what I may remember or what we have in our CRM system, the city they live, any FORD already documented, and their past purchase history. it reminds me to do some recon on LinkedIn for mutual connections we have and where they may have graduated from.
Then during the conversation, I just write down any additional info that comes up, using this and paying attention, I always find the conversation gift that allows me to follow up with something. Many times, it could be a link to an article or video of a topic we discussed, an introduction or some great restaurant suggestions for their upcoming trip. It takes less than 30 seconds to do post call. You can see the rest of the FORD Tablet has space available for the business discussion and call to action needed.
Video conferenceing calls are so much better than the old traditional conference call. Recently, I was on a Zoom call with someone I had never spoken to before. There was so much FORD info in plain view behind him--his diploma, a photo of his wife and kids, and his favorite sports team. This type of info allows for the conversation gift to follow up.
6. Utilize Relationship Hacks
Many little investments in relationships are key to building that emotional connection. I learned a great relationship hack from reading Adrienne Banker's new book, Your Hidden Superpower: Kindness. Adrienne talks about taking a few minutes to video text people instead of just texting them, and the power of it. So, I tried it and to my amazement, it was fast, easy and the responses I got were incredible. I have always texted my employees on their company anniversary dates to thank them. Now, instead I send a video text, which actually takes less time than typing and has a significantly bigger imapct. I am tring to force myself to think before I text anyone--my employees, my sons--would this be more powerful as a video message?
7. Justify a Relationship Tax
What if your business started charging every customer an additional 5% Relationship Tax that was non-negotiable? This is a great exercise to do with your employees. Tell them you are implementing a Relationship Tax at the beginning of the month. The tax is for the relationship they have built with every customer during each interaction. Ask them what will they do as a result to ensure no customers complain about the new Relationship Tax?
Typically, the answers employees come up with are simple ideas that they realize they should have been doing all along. When you can justify the relationship tax, without actually charging for it, you start becoming irreplaceable in your customers' lives.
You absolutely can become the brand customer can't live without by training your employees to create an emotional connection every time they interact with customers.
The organizations who understand that the human touch is the most important part of any experience--especially a great customer experience--will flourish.
The Most Remarkable Customer Service Story I Have Ever Heard
On the 26th of November 2008, when a group of terrorists sieged the iconic, 103-year-old Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India, more than 1,000 guests and staff were taken hostage for nearly three days. This below video shows an amazing, inspirational back story about the heroic actions of the Taj staff. What can the staff, who saved lives while endangering their own, teach American companies about ethical behaviour:
Points to Ponder:
- Leadership from Below
- A guest is to be treated like a god.
- Taj did not recruit from big cities, they recruited from smaller cities where traditional culture still holds strong, and they recruited high school students, based on attitudes, not their grades.
- They spoke to school masters to find out who were the most respectul to their parents, elders, teachers and classmates.
- They taught their employees to be ambassadors of their guests to the organization, instead of ambassadors of the company to the guests. (To be guest ambassadors, not brand ambassadors.)
- They reward and recognize within 48 hours.
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