5 rules for making customers feel 'cared for'
Customer emotions are essential in Customer Experience. Being deliberate about which emotions your experience evokes is critical, too. Today, we will take a deeper dive into making your customers feel “Cared for” with the 5 Rules for Making Customers Feeling Cared For and Valued.
Before we get into the rules, it’s essential to know what you’re aiming at and why.
We started a recent podcast by explaining that 50 percent of an experience outcome is about how a customer feels. However, most customers find it difficult to articulate that. Typically, they say they want a lower price or more features or whatever it might be. They don’t say, “I want you to make me feel valued.” Nonetheless, we know through all the research that we’ve done over the years is that those things drive value.
With that in mind, here are the 5 Rules for Making Customers Feel Cared For and Valued:
- Define which emotions drive value.
- Define the action that you need to take.
- Design that into your Customer Experience.
- Train your people on how to evoke these emotions.
- Measure your results.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
RULE #1: DEFINE WHAT EMOTIONS DRIVE VALUE.
Some people might think that their customers make decisions rationally, purely focused on the products and services’ features. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In my work over the past 20 years, I have a database with millions of responses from various types of customers and across all kinds of organizations, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer, and even different countries. These responses reveal that people buy based on emotions. Moreover, the ones that make them buy the most are feeling cared for and valued.
People who object to this notion that emotions matter in their business (I’m looking at you, B2B) often interpret the concept through a narrow lens of actions that can evoke that. For example, when someone hugs us, we feel cared for, so the B2B organization thinks that means we want them to embrace their customers. That isn’t what we are saying (and don’t, because you could get sued). Physical affection is not the only way to feel cared for. You can also show it by identifying the needs of others. For example, in the B2B setting, it could be as simple as acknowledging how busy your customer might be and making something simple for them to accommodate their lack of time.
My experience tells me that feeling cared for and valued is the fundamental emotion that drives value. However, for this process to work best for you, you should research and determine that empirically for your organization. That said, my money is on the feeling cared for and valued are the ones that will land on top.
RULE #2: DEFINE THE ACTIONS THAT YOU NEED TO TAKE.
We have already established the action you do not need to take, i.e., hugging your customers. However, there are specific actions you should take to evoke the proper emotions from people.
One of the best ways of determining these actions is to reflect on what makes you feel cared for and valued. You can also ask your customers.
The good news is that making people feel cared for and valued is not rocket science. These emotions are rooted in empathy. For example, when someone helps you because they can see you need it without being asked, you feel cared for. When someone acknowledges things that you have been doing right and appreciates them, you feel valued.
There are a few universal things that work in evoking feeling cared for and valued. Often, in our work with clients, we hear that customers feel these emotions because they think an organization listens to and spends time with them. Customers also say things like the organization focuses on them, like the customer is the only person in the room or that the representative picks up the customer’s call right away. All of these things are actionable items that you can emulate.
We have massive brainstorming sessions with clients where you get people at various levels to fill a room full of those giant Post-it notes of potential actions that the organization could take. This activity pushes the idea forward in the organization in a couple of ways:
It generates specific steps that you can use.
It creates a mindset shift where your people spend time thinking creatively and specifically how to make customers feel a certain way. Even if some of the ideas are terrible or impractical, the exercise has influenced the team to be mindful of making customers feel a specific emotion.
It connects people to the sentiment.
People realize the actions they take to make a difference, and it builds their empathy.
When engaging your team in a session like this, it is helpful to have people think of situations outside of work. That helps people think about things from a personal perspective. It makes the concept relatable. It also keeps you from repeating the same old things you have always done, which can deflate enthusiasm for the idea. Then, you can adapt the example that someone brought into the session from another area of their life to your Customer Experience. These minor tweaks are all part of finding the best possible actions to make customers feel the way you want them to with your Customer Experience.
RULE # 3: DESIGN THAT INTO YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Many clients talk about the fact that they do journey mapping. I love journey mapping. However, it is maddening that a lot of journey mapping is process mapping. Few look at the emotional journey of an experience, and, if they do at all, it’s not specific. The only “emotional” data they have is labeled “positive” or “negative.”
It would be best to abandon this generic approach to emotions in the customer journey and instead be specific. If you want customers to feel cared for and valued, how will you design that into your customer journey?
Having a journey map can be helpful in many different ways. One of the ways we’re talking about today is this now gives you several concrete stages to look for specific opportunities to apply those actions identified during Rule #2. Journey mapping presents a way to feed in those actions.
For example, if you want your customers to feel that you’re listening to them, wherein the journey you’re going to do that? Then you can determine that you give your people enough time to do that or presenting the correct incentives in their performance measures that allow for that activity.
Here is another place for you to be creative in your assessment. A company might think they are great at listening to customers. The company might pride itself on fixing problems for customers. However, from a customer perspective, that is not at all what happened. The customer remembers that the company’s process meant that they had to repeat the problem four separate times to four other employees and don’t feel listened to at all or that the company was great at solving their problem. When you do a journey map, you can detect these moments where intentions and reality don’t match up to create the same perceived outcome.
RULE #4. TRAIN YOUR PEOPLE ON HOW TO EVOKE EMOTIONS.
Humans can perceive how another person is feeling through the other person’s voice, cadence, body language, etc., and we can also change it. For example, when I get home at night after work and I shout hello to my wife Lorraine, I can tell you how Lorraine is feeling within a one-word response. If she is upset in any way, I can also tell you what I should do to make her feel better and what I shouldn’t do that would make it worse.
We want the same kind of activity from your team. If the employee surmises that the customer feels frustrated, we want them to know what to do to make customers feel cared for and valued. The best people in your organization will do this automatically because they are emotionally intelligent and can do things like this without thinking about it. But for the rest of the team, they could need training. We have specific training on helping customers evoke these emotions about your Customer Experience called Memory Maker Training.
Some organizations have what we call an empathy gap that happens around training. People who do well with these soft skills necessary for customer service roles tend to get promoted. However, the natural ease they have with the soft skills makes it difficult for them to see the challenges others have in this area. So, it may be that people in management that define what training should include assume that other people “get it” because they do, and we don’t need to spend a lot of time covering it. However, we find that not everyone does get it naturally, but they do with a little bit of training. When you connect the action and the outcome, a lot of your team will improve in evoking the proper emotion.
RULE #5: MEASURE IT.
How do you measure an emotion? It’s simple: You ask a customer. You can ask them directly, i.e., “do you feel cared for after that interaction?”. Or you can ask them whether the action designed into the experience to evoke feeling cared for was taken, i.e., “Did you feel that we listened to you?”.
The excellent part of this rule is by taking these steps, you know it will drive value. What value is for your organization is determined by your organization. In some cases, it might be reducing customer churn. Others might want to see higher sales. Many organizations use customer satisfaction scores or Net Promoter Scores, which measure how likely a customer is to recommend you to others. The critical part of rule #5 is that you document how your actions are resulting in improvement and driving value.
The area of emotions can feel very soft and squishy, which some serious business people think they should avoid. These five rules give you a systematic approach to feelings that are, let’s face it, soft and squishy. Nevertheless, with the process we laid out here, you can determine how to build them into the experience. If you take that more systematic approach to this soft and squishy topic, you’ll be fine—and you will see it in the customer-driven growth you enjoy as a result.
Colin is Founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy LLC who help organizations grow by improving their Customer Experience and identifying hidden unmet needs. As a result, the Financial Times selected Beyond Philosophy LLC, as one of the best management consultancies for the last two years.
- Colin is recognized by LinkedIn as one of the ‘ ...