In the world of customer experience design the smallest details are the difference between loyal customers and a customer retention problem. Judgement about the shopping experience is happening by the customer even before their first interaction with an employee.
Today I want to focus on that pinnacle moment when an employee makes initial contact with a customer. As I said, it’s the details that matter. As such we’re going to take a look at 2 of the most common phrases that typically follow “Hello.”
How can I help you?
More often than I wish, this is the first phrase I hear from an employee (B2C or B2B) when I make my first interaction with the company they work for. If it’s so common, it must be good! Right?
Not exactly. The science behind helping is actually quite the opposite (especially for those loyal customers). Customers are very eager to help a brand they feel deep connections with. Think about social media, for example. It is built upon the idea of customers helping brands gain better exposure through hashtag campaigns, invitations or raw brand evangelism.
So why is it that the very first thing out of an employee mouth would be about helping me? I’m in the store or purchasing services in exchange for the business’ continued success. There are many options that I have as a consumer and I choose to help the store I decided to visit.
The reason I have such a gripe with this phrase is that it is purely business. It dehumanizes the relationship between the consumer and the business so that the only exchange is that of a business transaction.
Let’s take a look at a far better alternative.
How are you doing today?
The only way to reintegrate humanization behind the brand is to encourage more socialization as part of the experience. The word transaction shouldn’t even be a part of company vocabulary. Each experience should work to enrich a greater relationship between the company and customer.
This brings us to, “How are you doing today?”
Just stop and think for a moment about the anatomy of this phrase. It perfectly captures the two greatest elements of our highly social culture.
The first element is that of you, or the consumer. We love ourselves. It’s the reason a selfie or Coke’s latest campaign are so wildly popular.
The second element is feeling. A similar phrase we may ask our families is, “How are you feeling today?” Emotions are at the core of any customer experience. It’s the reason blue is used to calm customers and create trustworthiness or why sale signs are red to create urgency.
By asking a customer about their current emotional state, you instantly create an emotional connection with the customer displaying care about the customers day. By creating an instant emotional relationship between the customer and the business, the experience is no longer about a transaction but rather about how the business can make the customer happy.
Anyone who has ever worked with customers knows, a happy (and loyal) customer is a customer for life.