First impressions are made in a flash, and can last a lifetime. So, what's the best way for a business to make an enduring good impression?
Connect with people emotionally.
Be aware, though, not any old emotion will do. To make a positive impression that lasts, it needs to be an emotion that matters to people. One that resonates with what they feel, believe, or aspire to.
Every business needs to:
Understand the specific emotions that inspire or motivate customer decisions at every stage of the customer journey.
Identify which of these emotions resonate most with the core values of the business and brand.
Create an advertising and marketing strategy that evokes and/or responds to these emotions and their sentiments.
Follow through on the claims and commitments of this strategy, first at sales and then at support. You need to do this every day, consistently, for the lifetime of the business.
Businesses must make it their business to understand customers.
From cars to computers to colas, consumers are constantly evaluating their decisions to make sure they're getting the bestvalue. To both acquire and retain customers in a competitive market, you need to have strong relationships with your customers. The only way to build and maintain these relationships with customers is to connect with them on an emotional level. And to do that, a business must first understand them.
Find out which emotions matter...
Making the right emotional connection can lead to customers feeling loyal, impressed, or proud of your achievements as a business. Or, even more specifically, of your business process or culture. It could also be pure relief that your marketing strategy addresses the precise pain point(s) customers share. What really matters are the emotions that drive customers to act, or spur them to react. Those are the emotions a business must appeal to.
...with empathy, accountability, and responsibility.
To be empathetic, a business must weave empathy into its strategy, culture, process, and operations, by putting employee and customer needs before their own. After all, employees are primarily the internal customers of a business. Find out whether your business strategy, work culture, internal processes, and business operations are inclusive, kind, and supportive of employees and customers. Remember, being empathetic isn't about being a pushover, it's about having the grace to be mindful of the needs of the people who keep your business functioning and growing.
Every business is expected to be both accountable and responsible for its design, structure, process, and operations. This applies just as much when it comes to building emotional connections. While being accountable is about using discretion to select positive emotions to appeal to customer needs, being responsible is about being mindful of not using fear, hate, and chicanery to persuade customers.
Honesty and trust can help simplify.
It becomes easier for the business to bring these key elements together when it is focused on the positive power of honesty. When that happens, it inspires people to place their trust in the business. It is a business's ability to inspire trust that will make good impressions.
Just be aware that every good impression a business makes needs to be sustained so it can last the lifetime of the business and/or brand.
A pointer for managers and C-suite leaders.
Every C-Suite professional must remember that a less than good impression is an opportunity to learn from.
This is why mistakes, lapses, or bad decisions need to be addressed, reviewed, and set right, with honesty and transparency. These are learning opportunities that speak to specific emotions, which can detract from the customer relationship. That's reason enough for them to be shared with all managers and relevant teams, either as a personal account or as a case study. This shared learning can help prevent similar situations from happening again. It will also lead to a collective understanding that can help restore, refine, and rejuvenate every aspect of the business's processes, to optimize the customer journey continually.
Just remember: Growth means change, new hands, and adjustments to maintain homeostasis on teams and in the market, so learning opportunities will continue to present themselves. Nothing and no one is error proof on every given day. Staythe course and be willing to learn with your team—it's the only way to sustain growth.
The emotions that drive and sustain growth.
In their article "The New Science of Customer Emotions", Magids, Zorfas, and Leemon list numerous emotional drivers that resonate with customer needs and spur customers to react. All of the emotional needs listed below apply to both employees and customers and can be powerful tools when used in the right combination to showcase the business and its values, claims, and commitments.
The need to:
Stand out in a crowd
Have confidence in the future
Enjoy a sense of well-being
Feel a sense of freedom
Feel a sense of thrill
Feel a sense of belonging
Protect the environment
Be the person they want to be
Succeed in life
This list isn't finite. It changes and evolves with time and development. All this list purports to do is show the kinds of positive emotions that all people, including employees and customers, are driven by or aspire to.
Building a business that is empathetic and puts employees and customers first, can feel more time-consuming than focusing on profit as the first and only success metric. However, in an increasingly connected world, empathy is the best way to build a business (and a positive impression) that will last for years to come.