Focusing on customer satisfaction is a no-brainer for every organization. But if you truly want to build long-lasting relationships with our customers, we need to humanize our interactions.
Our organizations are obsessed with customer satisfaction. Maybe too obsessed.
It’s pretty clear why, judging from the research. Customers who receive the best experiences spend 140% more than those with who receive the poorest ones. And far from being cost-prohibitive, providing superior customer experience actually reduces the cost of serving customers by as much as 33%.
With a compelling business case for keeping our customers happy, we’ve built monuments to the customer experience. We’ve snapped up big CRM systems that provide a 360-degree customer view and scrutinize their activity across brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce sites, call centers and social media. We gather reams of data from surveys, tracking systems, loyalty programs and third-party providers. And we’ve adopted automated, integrated communications solutions that send frequent communications at predefined touchpoints.
Despite this intense focus on the customer experience, I wonder if there may be an even more powerful way to build strong customer connections.
I ran across a great article that makes the case that our companies can maximize customer value by going beyond customer satisfaction to building an emotional connection with customers. You can read the article yourself, but it advocates establishing increasingly profitable relationships by appealing to any of dozens of “emotional motivators,” such as a desire to feel a sense of belonging, to succeed in life, to feel secure and so forth.
Getting to “This Company Gets Me!”
I’d like to add an even more fundamental way we can build an emotional connection with our customers: By being more human.
By being an entity they can relate to, we can fight the perception – sometimes deserved, but often not – that companies are cold, humorless and impersonal. There are hundreds of ways to do this, and here are just a few:
- Get personal. How often have you received a thank-you email that is signed, blandly, by the “Customer Service Department”? Encounters like this are missed opportunities to portray our organization as human. We should strive to make all customer interactions sincere, meaningful and memorable. It can be as easy as making sure all correspondence is signed by another human being.
- Start a discussion. What is more human than having a conversation with a real person? Yet too often we discourage that human touch. While a website, emails and text messages can be powerful communication tools, they’ll never match the personal touch of a phone conversation. Post your phone number for all to see and invite customers to call to purchase from you, provide feedback, ask questions, report product issues, or yes, even compliment you on your product or service.
- Stand for something. Many companies are perceived as being lifeless and lacking in personality. Maybe we try so diligently not to offend that we instead come off as bland, boring and transactional. Far from fading into the background, we should strive to do the opposite: Stand for something. We should show customers that, as a collection of human beings, we have a personality and opinions and aren’t afraid to share them. By offering our thoughts and perspectives, we establish common ground, build trust and invite customers to stand with us.
Striving for customer satisfaction is a laudable goal. But for long-lasting, profitable relationships, we should build an emotional connection with customers by putting a human face on our organizations.