Delivering exceptional customer experience isn’t about having the best products or services. It’s about making sure your customers have the experience they like to feel, while getting what they need. Too often, marketing and customer service are more about statistics — Net Promoter Scores, number of “likes”, and survey points — and less about actual people. But it’s not enough to focus on tactical improvements; you need to have empathy for what’s important to your customers as fellow human beings.
If every employee of every business stopped to consider the key emotional components that make their own personal relationships thrive, they might better understand how to create exceptional — and mutually profitable — customer relationships.
5 Human Nature Essentials for Exceptional Customer Experience
We’re talking about some basics of human nature — foundational, emotional needs that are pretty universal. These basics tend to influence how we think and feel, how we relate to others, and how we act and make decisions. So look in the mirror. Think about the difference it makes in your own relationships when the following emotional essentials are satisfied, and what that perspective can bring to your business…
Let’s face it, we all long to be “seen” – really understood for who we are, what makes us special, what matters to us. We all want to feel valuable and worth listening to — because what we think and feel matters, right? When others give us genuine, focused attention, it’s a powerful thing. When they demonstrate a caring awareness about us, we gravitate to them. And our trust, confidence, and loyalty increases when others consistently demonstrate that awareness through their words and actions. It works the same in business.
Social media is a key example. When customers voice complaints, they want to feel heard and valued. It’s a perfect opportunity for the business to turn a negative impact into a loyalty moment: pay attention, respond quickly, and go the extra mile to delight the customer. Making people feel seen and special can supercharge the relationship.
Many of the experiences that frustrate us come down to our sense of fairness. Something feels lop-sided, and until it’s back in balance, we’re not satisfied. We feel it when we give a lot to someone and get little in return; or when someone promises something and then lets us down; or when someone seems oblivious to our concerns. If those things make you lose trust and want to pull away, imagine how your paying customers feel if it happens to them! The good news is that, if our sense of fairness is restored — say, with fair-minded, compassionate communications and actions — we’re often quick to forgive. In fact, sometimes just the relief of feeling back in balance can lead to a rejuvenated connection and openness.
Endemic to our need for awareness and fairness from others is having people empathize with our experiences. “Put yourself in my shoes,” we often say when we want someone to really understand us. We bond closely with those who demonstrate sensitivity when we face challenges and negative impacts. When someone really “sees” our side, and factors our needs and feelings into their decisions and actions, it often heightens our sense of trust and respect in that relationship. Looking at it this way, you can see why empathy plays such a vital role in customer experience.
To drive this home, businesses like Facebook are now infusing empathy into company culture. Encouraging vulnerable sharing and empathetic thought leadership helps businesses grow more connected to the human experience – which in turn, inspires how they optimize their customer experience.
Essential to building our sense of trust is having others be accountable. When someone negatively impacts us, we’re often less upset about the thing that happened, and more hung up because we feel devalued, disrespected, or things just don’t seem fair. Accountability is a great equalizer. When an apology is called for, it’s about stepping up to say, “Yes, you’re right, this did happen. And we’re going to make it right for you, and work to ensure it doesn’t happen again.” More importantly, for everyday relations, accountability is about saying what you mean, and meaning what you say. It’s about being in integrity so you earn the trust and loyalty of others.
As customers ourselves, buying goods and services isn’t really about acquiring things, it’s about the emotional gain of meeting our needs and feeling good doing it. Often, if there’s no emotional gain, there’s no more business. There’s almost always someone else selling what we need, so we seek out the emotional experience that profits us. We may go where the experience is easier, so we feel smart and comfortable; or where service is friendlier and more helpful, so we feel valued and understood.
People do business with people they like — the more likeable your business, the more profitable you may be. Think beyond dollars and cents, and consider the profits from the emotional rewards for your own employees. They may thrive, knowing they’ve earned a loyal following by creating a genuinely trustworthy and enjoyable customer experience. It’s a pay-it-forward phenomenon that everyone can feel good about.
When your business talks about improving the bottom line, think about your customers’ bottom line. These essentials of human nature are powerful influencers on brand perception, business growth and cross-sell/up-sell potential, customer loyalty, and word of mouth referrals. If you can make people feel consistently comfortable and confident — about both you and their experience doing business with you — then you have a solid foundation for a lasting relationship that is profitable for everyone involved.