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The 4 irrefutable truths about love, loyalty and customers

15th Mar 2016
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How can you make your customers love you? This is the question Sheridan Orr from NICE Systems looks to answer in this new guest blog, in which she reveals scientifically proven laws of love that can help your relationships with customers.

Truth 1:  Love H​appens in an Instant

In fact, it happens in 1/5 of a second.  While it happens quickly, it ​is a complex cocktail.  Using  fMRI’s to study the brain, Stephanie Ortique found that that many parts of the brain are involved with falling in love.  However, love is concentrated in the reward center and is designed to help us overcome obstacles. 

Customer lesson:  

Every interaction you have with a customer is a chance for them to fall in love with you.  However, early interactions –if positive—can set the tone for your relationship with that customer.  If you can delight them at early stages, they’ll be more likely to forgive you if something unexpectedly goes wrong down the road.​

Truth 2:  It​​ IS the Little Things

The Open University interviewed 4000 British citizens with the idea of understanding what makes love last.  More important than chocolates or flowers in relationship longevity, were the little things like taking out the rubbish, bringing coffee or daily compliments.  In fact, the cumulative effort of the small things made the relationship deeper and more lasting.

Customer lesson: 

Often your customers don’t know exactly what you did. They just know that they have been treated well. We tend to focus on the grand gestures of delight like the Southwest team who met an angry customer at the gate with free tickets and an apology from the executive team.

However, the small things can make all the difference. For instance, when you’ve lost your credit card while traveling and the bank calls you back later to make sure you are safe and have what you need.

You can think of the grand gesture as diamonds, flowers and chocolates. However, saying, “thank you for your business” at every interaction or trying to remove friction when they are trying to navigate your system.

We had another great example recently , when a customer optimised their IVR to make it easier for customers based on their demographics. That way their elderly clients could get to an agent more quickly. This kind of thoughtfulness can be instrumental in whether a customer stays or leaves.

Truth 3:  There is a Recipe for Disaster

Take one part criticism, stir in contempt, add a dash of defensiveness and simmer with stonewalling.  Professor  John Gottman of the Gottman  Institute has been studying relationships for 40 years and has found there is a recurring pattern in failed relationships.  Each of the once flourishing relationships began to fail due to criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. 

Customer lesson:  

If you’ve ever called a company about a problem, then you know when they start off with what you are doing wrong, it goes downhill from there.  One way to make sure your employees aren’t doing this is to gather data about customer engagements, contact reasons and resolution and tie it to employee management.  Th​​at way you can coach those who may be struggling on certain issues and reward those who are being responsive.

Customer love example3

Truth 4:  But Happiness is Contagious

When people are happy, they make others happy.  And what makes people more joyful than being in love?  That’s why offices are buzzing with delight as flowers are delivered on Valentine’s.  In fact, Harvard researchers found that even having a happy neighbor made people 42% more likely to be happy. 

Customer lesson:  

You may be thinking of your relationship with customers as one- to-one.  However, by creating customer love, you can create a virtuous circle.  For instance, your customers are happy, they engage with your employees who enjoy their jobs and then they make other employees happy.  Those happy employees make even more delighted customers.  Soon your brand is reaping the rewards from the circle of love.

Sherridan Orr, NICE SystemsPhoto: Sheridan Orr, NICE Systems

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