Most people think that they make decisions using a rational approach such as analysing features, taking note of past achievements and listing credentials. Little do they know or realise that over 50% of their experiences and decisions are based on emotion. Emotions shape the attitudes that drive behaviours, however we are so unconscious of them that we forget how powerful they really are.
While the emotions or feelings a client has towards you, your products and/or services may be unconscious, these same unconscious feelings can have a very concrete impact on your business. In fact, a study by Forrester Research has found that while 89% of customers feel no personal connection to the brands they buy or organisations they engage with, without this emotional bond, they can be swayed very easily into the hands of another competitor.
So how do you prevent this from happening to your business? Simple – aim for their hearts.
- Put the client at the forefront of what you do. Clients are no longer concerned with merely satisfying their basic needs. Instead, they want to have an emotional connection with the brand or organisation they are engaging with. There’s no better way to show your commitment to your clients by showing them that they are valued. It’s an outside-in approach. Examine your processes and procedures, and analyse the messages you send. Make sure that these processes are focused on your clients, rather than you.
- Be genuine. The only way to establish a high-quality connection with your client is to be 100% genuine. If you’re not passionate about their cause or have no interest in what they do, then there is no point chasing them. For your business relationship to work, you should be invested in your clients wholeheartedly. You should also be genuine by practising what you preach. People aren’t just going to believe anything you tell them without adequate evidence.
- Share your story. By sharing your story with your clients, you are giving them the chance to understand why you do what you do. This can impact how clients perceive you, and can help them feel like they truly know your organisation or brand. Showing them your behind-the-scenes, highlighting your personality, and sharing your triumphs and failures (to an extent) will help them realise that you are only human. This establishes a shared connection that cannot be achieved by merely discussing strategies or plans.
- Be empathetic. The more you understand your clients' experiences, needs, feelings and expectations, the better you can serve them. This requires empathy. Have an open mind when it comes to comments, feedback or complaints, and don’t be too quick to play the blame game (this only reinforces a negative emotion). Instead, be aware of other perspectives and try your best to recognise and manage clients’ emotions in a way that builds the business relationship and restores confidence.
- Listen. While it’s easy to stare at someone who is talking to you while thinking only about what’s for dinner later on, this “talking to a brick wall” approach could very much lead you to losing a great client. Make a point to regularly listen to your clients. Listen for validation or inconsistencies with your work or brand. This will help you understand their concerns and needs, as well as pinpoint some areas of improvement that you may need to work on. Listening in every interaction, whether it be a phone call, email, video conference or face-to-face meeting, also helps the client feel welcome, comfortable and valued. This not only reflects positively on you, but your organisation as a whole.
At the end of the day, how you engage with your clients all comes down to one thing – respect. Putting them at the forefront of what you do, being genuine, sharing your stories and listening to what they have to say may sound simple, but these very actions will put you in the fast track to winning their hearts.