If you aren’t using emotional connections to build customer loyalty, you’re wasting time, according to new research.
Customers who are “emotionally connected” to a product buy more, are more profitable and are more loyal than customers who are “highly satisfied,” Harvard Business Review researchers found.
Yet, most companies spend time and resources measuring satisfaction and trying to improve transaction details, rather than focus on deepening relationships.
So what is that emotional connection? It has a lot to do with capturing hearts and minds — how you make customers feel when they buy from you. It’s usually more of an unconscious feeling than a conscious one — customers continue to buy because you fed their desire to feel secure, stand out from the crowd or come closer to being the people they want to be.
And to put a number on it: Customers who feel connected to a product, employees, company or brand are 25% to 100% more valuable in terms of profitability.
Where to focus
Here are areas where you can help customers develop deeper emotional connections with your company:
- Walk the talk. Employees can better connect with customers when they’ve had similar experiences. For instance, at Fairmont San Francisco, new employees get the same penthouse champagne toast the hotel management uses to woo event planners. Other Fairmont properties treat new employees to a night as a guest so they can get a feel for every touch point and see how to make things seamless for customers.
- Listen to customers and front-line employees. To connect with customers, you want to increase the reasons they like — or are satisfied with — you. The best way is to regularly get feedback and consistently gather and act on informal feedback. Ask employees to offer at least three things a week that they heard from customers that would improve relationships. Customers comment informally all the time on things they really like or dislike. You don’t want that valuable information to go unused.
- Show your personality. Scripted transactions, corporate policies and lack of transparency in how you do business limit connections. Use social media to show customers the causes you’re passionate about. Allow front line workers to make small, relevant talk with customers. Admit when you make mistakes — and how you’ll fix them — to show customers that you’re human.