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Win Loyalty. Use Empathy – The Hidden Business Success Secret

Customers know it when you fake it; instead you've got to try seeing through their eyes


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Most companies are more focused on customer acquisition than retention. Sound familiar? This is a financially dangerous method of operating when you consider that research shows acquiring a new customer costs at least five times more than keeping an existing one.

Find out how to keep your current customers by winning their loyalty now.

You achieve a faithful following by earning it. People are smart. They can sense when you, as a business, have their best interests at heart, versus when you’re solely out to maximize profit. If you put your customer first and focus on providing the best possible experience, balancing the sometimes-conflicting mission of hitting profit goals, the tone will be set for your team’s interactions with customers.

The result – That elusive customer loyalty all businesses seek.

Empathy is power, and it is the hidden secret in business.

The mysterious magic of empathy is usually missed in business because it contradicts the shrewd-business-person stereotype: The picture of someone sitting behind a desk, methodically plotting how to cut corners. The truth is, real and lasting success comes first by identifying a pain point in the marketplace that is failing to be addressed effectively, then figuring out how to resolve that source of discomfort with high-value solution. The only way this can happen is by walking in a customer’s shoes – not plotting against them.

Here are three tips to turn empathy into customer loyalty and skyrocket your profits:

UNDERSTAND WHAT EMPATHY LOOKS + FEELS LIKE

Most people think they know what empathizing with a customer means, but they don’t. It doesn’t just apply to interactions in customer service when challenges arise. Your core business model should genuinely be focused on solving pain points and catering to the desires of your customers in the best way possible.

Ironically, this goal and running a profitable business are sometimes in direct opposition which creates a challenge: How do you provide the best possible customer experience while still turning the highest profit?

To help with this, you can map it! Empathy mapping is a collaborative tool teams can use to gain deeper insights into their customers. It is a formalized way of walking through the customer experience while focusing on emotions — such as frustration, relief and happiness — that customers feel every step of the way. Empathy mapping will help you spot current challenges and opportunities your customers are having with your company and ways to elevate their experience and loyalty while providing fertile ground for additional revenue streams.

Reading Assignment: I highly suggest "Empathy Maps: Walk In Your Customer’s Shoes" by Robert Curedale.

BE COMMUNICATIVE + DIRECT

I always see a sense of peace come over my clients’ faces when I say out loud:

“This is about you and what you want.”

It immediately diffuses any brewing power struggles by reminding the client they are in control. And it often results in them handing over the wheel and letting you drive because they feel safe. There is magic in telling your customers directly that their positive experience is the most important thing to you. In order to do this in the most effective way possible, develop a deep understanding of their buyer persona.

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is a representation of your various customer types based on market research and real data about your existing clients. Buyer personas include: 

  • Customer demographics
  • Behavior patterns
  • Motivations
  • Goals

The more detailed you get, the better. For the purpose of telling your customer how important they are the motivations and goals are the most important part of the buyer persona.

For example, if you own an auto repair shop, and Steve comes in, bringing his wife’s car, instead of saying something generic like, “Your positive experience here is really important to me,” you might say something like, “I know safety and quick turnaround time are important to you, and I will ensure you have peace of mind by taking care of both.” The latter is much more effective.

Why?

Because you understand the key motivations and goals of the customer type that Steve represents, and you focus on them when you tell him directly how important they are to you.

In contrast, if a man in his early 20s brought in his car and his core goal was souping up is car for higher performance, the mention of safety and quick turnaround time that you used for Steve wouldn’t resonate as powerfully. You may understand your current buyer personas now anecdotally but formalizing them by writing them down, making sure your team understand them and ensuring that all of your communication with clients is executed with each persona in mind can help you win the heart, mind and loyalty of your customers.  

SHOW DON’T TELL

With such an emphasis on being customer-centric these days, you’d think most businesses would have figured out that the most important thing is communicating to customers that they are the priority. But many still haven’t. This presents a big opportunity for you and your business that can result in a major competitive advantage. Walking the talk is imperative.

Case in point:

A live music loyalty startup, Sonotize, identified a major opportunity that other ticketing apps — such as Bandsintown and Songkick — missed by being overly focused on business goals and not paying enough attention to customer needs. We have all purchased concert tickets, been hit with exorbitant fees — some necessary, some not — and walked away from the experience with our excitement about going to the concert overshadowed by feeling financially taken advantage of. Enter Sonotize. They see things from the customer’s perspective, feel their pain and empathize. Yes, they charge the same fees and enjoy the profit that comes with them; but, to counteract their customer’s pain, they provide loyalty points in exchange for those fees. The points can be redeemed for event-focused rewards that excite their customers —drinks, rooms, transportation and more. Brilliant! Why didn’t any of their competitors spot this opportunity? They were narrowly concerned with business goals and not concerned enough about their customers’ experience. Sonotize saw the ticket-buying experience through a customer’s eyes and spotted an opportunity that their very large, high-revenue-generating competitors missed. They are currently rushing in to satisfy that market need.

Boost loyalty by truly having your customers’ best interests at heart, and you will be on your way to increasing your company’s profits. It is a win-win for your business and your customer.

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Sarah Procopio

Sarah Procopio, founder and vice president of Thrive Now, a business intelligence and database marketing firm. She specializes in loyalty program development and turning around flailing companies and marketing programs quickly. She can be reached at sprocopio@thrivenowanalytics.com or 720-308-8839.

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