Having to travel frequently for my consulting and workshop facilitation activities and having to subsequently endure the sometimes arduous processes within international airports (transfer, check-in, security, customs and immigration), especially within Africa, I have found that my primary goal in the embarkation procedure is to get to the business lounge as unscathed as possible. The business lounge is a safe and hopefully comfortable haven – a place to get out of the hustle and bustle and relax in relative peace. Interestingly, food and beverages – their taste and presentation – play an important part in calming the nerves and settling one down. In some lounges, I have had the pleasure of experiencing emotional connection to the culinary presentation – professional, but warm displays, inviting one to indulge. I gravitate towards these lounges, as they become the ones in which I feel most comfortable and secure.
Likewise, whilst seated in the airplane, the service of food and beverages and the kindness and compassion of airline staff, when excellent, make for good and enjoyable travelling experiences. Somehow, emotional connection, in whatever form, is wanted by the customer – when this is provided, the customer is satisfied. It is almost as if the personal touch (emotional connection) is a prerequisite to the good evaluation of client service. A customer is simply not totally satisfied just receiving a product (a flight from point A to point B) – the passenger wants something more (perhaps a jovial conversation, good food and drink that resonates emotionally, kind advice and help where needed). The customer wants to feel emotionally secure.
Emotional connection breeds satisfied or happy clients and ultimately customer loyalty. The same triggers endorphins (happy moments) for the customer – we care for you; you are important to us; we value your business – are the messages that are subtly transmitted. There follows then a reciprocal emotional reaction – the customers feel that they want the experience again and will come back for more of the same.
How should companies be “docking” emotionally with their clients? The following applies:
- Understand the client’s needs – put yourself in the shoes of the client. What would you expect if you were making a purchase or using the company’s services? What kind of treatment would you be anticipating? How would you want to feel after interacting with the company?
- Identify what part of client service you are good at – focus on delivery at this point. Hone all the skills of your staff to become expert regarding this delivery to create uniqueness in your market.
- Deliver consistently – sporadic achievement is not sustainable as clients want consistency. Care demonstrated initially needs to be maintained. Become a master of behaviours that are repeatable.
- Go the extra mile – attempt to perform the extraordinary. A delivery after hours, a caring word and any unexpected gestures make an impact on a client. Find a way to deliver above expectation.
- Communicate frequently – letting the client know the status of a delivery or keeping a client informed regarding the expected arrival date of a product keeps the client informed and secure.
- Follow up – find out how the client is experiencing the purchase or service and offer assistance or further suggestions. Always check for satisfaction levels.
- Keep the client abreast of any further developments – this could involve new product launches, additional services and further product knowledge. Make sure the information adds value to the client.
- Recognise client events – remembering a birthday, a company milestone or even a client success gives credence to your veracity as a supplier company and enhances reputation.
Emotional connection is essential for longevity in relationships between company and client. People have a need to belong and emotional connectivity reinforces feelings of oneness between provider and customer. The ability to emotionally connect is a skill – develop it.