It’s all too easy to regard clients as nothing more than consumers, but in reality they are living, breathing human beings with valid emotions. If you haven’t grasped the power that lies in developing deep, personal relationships with your clients, you’ll never achieve the level of customer satisfaction and brand loyalty that empowers winning brands to grow and thrive.
The Power in Emotional Connections
Emotions can be a funny phenomenon. Certainly, other creatures show emotions and are evidently able to feel such sensations as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and anticipation; but as humans, we are unique in the extent to which we can understand we have emotions and may think and communicate about them. In short, we know they exist, and we regularly attempt to do (or not do) specific things in order to suppress, elevate, or alter our underlying emotions. As author Raphael Cushnir succinctly explains, “[Emotions are] messages from the brain that are delivered in the body.”
From a business perspective, being aware of the power emotions exert in driving people’s action and guiding our thoughts is critical. Each of your customers and clients has emotions, and how you tap into them can either hurt or help the relationship between your brand and their loyalty. In more practical terms, your understanding of emotions can directly influence whether your clients reach for their wallet or checkbook.
Three Ways to Forge Deeper Connections With Clients
As you seek to build deeper emotional connections with your customers, you can take three specific steps to improve the results.
1. Cut Through the Crap
For years, marketers and brand strategists have preached the importance of delivering carefully manicured brand experiences that are idealistic and flawless. But what if they have it all wrong? Over time, consumers have grown sick and tired of “fake” marketing messages and artificially manipulated interactions with brands. What they crave is honesty. Architect Mathieu Anfosso of Ten Over Media discovered this firsthand. When he engages clients now, he uses 3D rendering tools like Lumion, which empower him to create and convey authentic, real-world visualizations.
“We believe that honest design comes through an emotion we translate to our audience. So we ask, ‘what makes a home? Why would I want to go there?’ We think it’s linked to emotions; it’s what we’re all looking for in the end,” Anfosso writes for Lumion. “For us, it’s about bringing our own memories and our own attachments to the same place. A candle by a window. A table set up. A messy bed. Our job is to create those souvenirs for the audience.”
Whether you’re a professional in architectural design or accounting, honesty and transparency go a long way. Even when the results aren’t as clean and concise as they might be, honesty works by engaging clients at an emotional level with which most of them resonate.
2. Engage Your Local Community
As human beings, we’re conditioned to live in communities. For the most part, people resonate deeply with the communities in which they live. This is especially true if the person was born where he or she currently lives or has lived in the locale for a while. When you make it a goal for your brand to be visibly involved in the community, it will reach the neighbors at a special level. “This could be getting involved in an area event, charity or awareness campaign,” entrepreneur Peter Daisyme says. “Your support of where they live and work, as well as acknowledgment of your hometown love, can be emotionally charged and meaningful on a much deeper level.
Consider looking for ways to get involved in your community that show you giving rather than expecting anything back.”
3. Ask and You Shall Receive
It’s easy to get so caught up in attempting to shape your customers’ experience with things your brand does and can offer them, that you fail ever to listen to what your customers actually say and experience. One of the best ways to get to know your clients and show them you care is by asking them questions. How do you ask questions?
The process could be as simple as sending out a survey over email, or it could be as direct and intensive as scheduling one-on-one lunch meetings and coming to them armed with pointed questions that cut to the truth of who your clients are and what they need.
Don’t Force It
On the other hand, you can’t force an emotional bond with customers. You can take steps toward potential success, but they have to be fairly natural and organic in character. Take it slowly and earn your way into your clients’ hearts.