Hope is a strong emotion. We always hope for the best. When your kids are born you have hope they will be healthy and live a long and happy life. Then they grow up and you hope their happiness will continue. If a relative or friend is diagnosed with an illness, your first thought might be fear, but soon hope keeps everyone focused and allows your brain to become positive. Hope is also the first step in creating a relationship that leads to repeat business.
No one walks into a mall, clicks a mouse or contacts a call center unless they are hoping something good will happen. Perhaps they are looking for the perfect Valentine’s present, a watch for their son’s graduation or gift for their friends who just moved into a new home. Hope can either be fulfilled or doused within the first 30 seconds of an encounter. You are either telling yourself, “Yes! I have found a person who can help fulfill my hope or, why am I wasting my time and effort doing business with this company?” In e-commerce, the hope is that the site is up and running, it’s easy to navigate, provides chat help and a contact us page that is prominently displayed. If you dial a toll free number and the recording is a friendly voice, the hold time is shared and there is an option for the company to call you back at a more convenient time, the message communicated is that your time is valuable and you are important. It gives you hope that you will be doing business with a company that appreciates its customers.
Some specific things that give me hope are:
- People behind the counter smile and say hello even though they are helping other customers.
- I am seen as a person first, customer second. The associate might notice and comment that my son is wearing a shirt with his favorite sports team logo, or that my glasses are cool. Maybe it’s a really hot day and I’m offered a bottle of water.
- The conversation on the phone begins with, “I can help you,” even if the help may be needing to get back to me, get their supervisor involved or even refer me to one of their competitors.
- The associate listens to not only what I have to say, but how I’m feeling. Am I upset, excited, frustrated, concerned and there is a response to those underlying emotions.
- The associate is knowledgeable about the merchandise, but also understands it is more important to get to know me as a customer than be an expert in the inventory.
- The first message I get after signing up for on-line site is welcoming and personalized and not a “do not reply” to this email that makes me feel that I’m going to be doing business with a machine rather than people.
- If I do have a really good experience, the associate tells me they want to see me again. It’s sort of like dating; if you have a nice time on a first date you are hoping that the other person says, “I enjoyed our conversation, let’s do it again”. It’s human nature to feel wanted.
Companies should not rely on accidental repeat business. Today’s competitive environment makes your customers more vulnerable than ever to the next third party seller, app or start-up. The key to repeat business is creating and building a relationship. A relationship is the glue and bond that generates repeat customers. People want to do business with another person, representing a company, who can fulfill their hopes, listen for their feelings and wants to see them again.