Customer Loyalty Gained Through Micro Experiences
“We are at our best when creating enduring relationships and personal connections. When we are fully engaged, we connect with, laugh with, and uplift the lives of our customers—even if it is just for a few moments. It’s really about human connection.”
—Howard Schultz, Starbucks
Carpe Momento — “Seize the Moment.”
There’s no better motto for reminding us that any connection with others— especially building relationships—depends on being fully engaged with them. When you are with others, be there. Be there for your family, friends, and coworkers. Be there for someone and let someone be there for you. There’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings. At the end of the day, ask yourself one simple question: “How many people had a better day as a result of coming in contact with me?”
According to a study conducted by psychologists at Harvard University, adults spend only 50 percent of their time in the present moment. That means we are mentally checked out half of the time. Scientists also found that when we are in the present moment, we are at our happiest, no matter what we are doing.
One of the leading predictors of success and happiness is developing strong relationships. And one of the best ways to improve your ability to connect with others on a more meaningful level is learning to be present, which makes the people around you feel understood, valued, and supported.
“Obsessing about the past and worrying about the future rips us out of the only place where we can find true happiness: the present moment.”
Customer Loyalty Is Less About Outcomes And More About The Micro Experiences
Too many customer-facing employees are convinced that customers will be happy and loyal if they get the results they were hoping for when doing business with them. That’s not true. Think about it. If you have a toothache, don’t you expect the dentist, any dentist, to fix it? If you go to a high-end steakhouse and order your filet mignon medium rare and it comes out medium rare, do you do backflips? If the package you ordered arrives within two days as promised, are you wowed? And if your accounting firm prepares your tax returns accurately and the IRS does not audit you, are you impressed? Not at all, that is what you are paying for when you deal with reputable businesses. However, if that is all you get, there is a high probability you will not be a loyal customer. Why? You would have received those results from any of that company’s viable competitors.
Customer loyalty is a result of the multiple positive micro-experiences a person has with a brand. It reflects the fact that not only is that business consistently brilliant at the basics, but also that it has taught all its employees to be present in the moment at each of its touchpoints.
Here are some examples of positive micro-experiences: A receptionist greets a patient by name when she arrives for an appointment; a waiter remembers what you ordered the last time you were in; your customer service rep contacts you to let you know they are out of stock on one of the products you ordered, but that he tracked the product down from another distributor so you would have enough to get you through the end of the month; or perhaps your consultant sends you a book on how to train for your first marathon, because she remembered a conversation you two had last week. Each of these examples will have a major impact on customer retention.
Our focus must be providing a positive experience on every interaction, whether it is face-to-face, click-to-click, or ear-to-ear.
Today, too many companies think they are in a race to evolve their customer experience from costly human interactions to technology like self-check-in/out, apps, kiosks, social media, and online support. While these represent a necessary evolution for most business models, we must not send the message to our employees that success is no longer about them and what they do. That will make our employees feel less important or have a decreased sense of value and disconnection from the company’s purpose, which will create employee apathy. Employee apathy produces customer apathy. Employee apathy is a sign of a terminally ill business. We cannot let our leaders and employees rely on technology as a crutch for the customer experience.
Our employees need to be reminded constantly that “You are the eXperience” (URX). It is about them and how they interact with the customer. Apps, iPads, websites, and kiosks don’t build relationships. People do. Employees who connect, instead of just communicate, create loyal customers.
Sven Gierlinger, vice president and chief experience officer of Northwell Health, inspires his staff by reminding them, “Every moment that we come into contact with our patients and customers matters. Never lose sight of the impact you make on other people in any given moment. The choice you make to smile (or not), to follow through (or not), to be empathetic (or not) makes a bigger difference than you will ever know. Choose wisely.”
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