Is It Better to Satisfy Customers Emotionally or Rationally?
On a hot day in September, I decided to take my 3-year-old granddaughter out for some ice cream. As we drove to our regular ice cream place, she asked, “Pa Pa, could we go to a different ice cream store?” I asked her why she didn’t want to go to our regular spot, and she said the people there were not very friendly.
Although I was the one who purchased the ice cream, she was the one who picked out the flavor and toppings. The whole process takes less than 10 minutes, but that was all it took for this 3-year-old to understand that the person behind the counter wasn’t very nice. I don’t remember what specifically happened to make her feel this way, but it obviously made an impression on her that made her want to go elsewhere.
In an article written in The Gallup Management Journal (that’s Gallup as in the people who have studied human nature and behavior for more than 70 years), Peter Flade points out that “emotionally satisfied customers contribute far more to the bottom line then rationally satisfied customers do, even though they are equally satisfied.” Moreover, Gallup research has shown that rationally satisfied customers often look and behave no differently than rationally dissatisfied customers.
To measure customer engagement, Gallup combines traditional metrics of customer loyalty with an assessment of customers’ emotional commitment, which includes:
- Confidence in the company and its ability to deliver on promises
- Integrity in the way the company treats the individual
- Pride, and whether the customer positively identifies with the company
- Passion — where a company is irreplaceable in that customer’s life — a rare, but priceless customer
Gallup’s research suggests that for all kinds of companies, a fully engaged customer delivers a 23% premium over the average customer in terms of profitability, revenue, and relationship growth. Fully engaged customers scored in the upper 15-20% on Gallup’s measure of emotional engagement.
For a business to be truly successful, it is important to have a positive emotional engagement. Remember that emotions make you memorable. Therefore, any interaction or touch point is a chance to build a lasting emotional connection. From a sales call to filling a little girl’s ice cream order, it all counts with employee and customer engagement.
So, how do you create a friendly employee? Obviously, it starts by hiring friendly people, but this is only the beginning. You also have to create a friendly culture within the work environment. This starts with the senior leadership team, which needs to set the right tone and establish the culture for the organization. However, the local managers who are responsible for developing and encouraging this culture in their branches should be ultimately responsible for improving performance.
Remember: people love to join and work for great companies, but they leave because of poor managers.
I believe that it pays to be friendly, and being nice and friendly is the key to great customer service – and this creates value. If you don’t believe me, just ask my granddaughter. Her perception of unfriendliness cost an ice cream store any and all future sales from us.
F. Steve Fialho, MBA, is an Adjunct Marketing Professor for the University of LaVerne and the President of Good Sense Marketing Group. He is also the Programming Chair of the American Marketing Association – Inland Empire. Contact him at 760-983-0973.