The truth is we have to earn their loyalty and they will not be loyal until we have earned their trust. We need to be the only supplier they think of when they want what we have to offer. It is only then that they truly become a customer with longevity, before this they are still a customer with prospect.
Why is this dangerous? Because we treat prospects and customers differently. If we are too quick to label someone a customer we will create a mismatch with how we treat him or her and what he or she needs. Think about your business strategies to bring in new business. Special offers, certain sales techniques, lots of explanation into how your services are the most suitable for them.
Now think how you handle those who have bought from you once or more. No special offers, different sales techniques and perhaps assumptions that they know all about your services and how you operate. That first time buyer needs nurturing, if they are not this is the time when they may be poached by the competition that will have their own new business strategies.
In order to nurture we must build relationships, listen to their needs and create a strong rapport. Most business people know this, but with the pressures of little time it is often overlooked and we scurry around with fractured attention trying to bring in new business. In today’s competitive world finding new clients is not easy, so it is more important than ever to value repeat business with the obvious rewards of loyalty to our brand.
If we are seeking loyalty and trust it’s worth considering the neuroscience of decision making. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has worked with patients with head injuries for many years. He noticed that with certain brain lesions people lost the connection that translates physical feelings to emotional response. Things like sweating, rapid heart beat and butterflies in the tummy. So when they felt these sensations there was no emotional link.
What was fascinating is that his patients couldn’t make rational decisions without an emotional response. In fact many couldn’t make decisions at all. As a result Damasio carried out further research in the laboratory and concluded that unconscious feelings are essential when it comes to decision making.
So when people say that emotion doesn’t play a part in their decision making, they are not aware that their decisions were already manipulated by emotion below conscious awareness.
This means that there is no getting away from it, emotion strongly influences customer behaviour. As such, it is essential that when nurturing prospects and trying to earn their trust, we do so by helping them feel good when dealing with our company. We make sure that we are reliable and that whenever they talk to us the whole experience is positive.
It is an interesting fact that when we are trusted we actually become more trustworthy in this delicious feedback loop. This is supported by further neuroscientific evidence. As a consequence when we have earned trust and our prospects become customers, we actually rise to the challenge of being trustworthy and improve our services.
As a progression, once someone is recommending us to others, they will actually become our best advocates, because the psychology of the human mind is such that it doesn’t like to be proved wrong.
After all, word-of-mouth is the strongest and cheapest marketing there is, make sure those words are about your business and not the competition’s.