What’s Love Got to Do With It? – How to Conquer Customers’ Hearts

To get in the spirit of this post, it helps (although it’s not required) to play Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got to Do With It?

When it comes to business and, more specifically, customer experience delivery, what does love have to do with that? In short, – everything!

If you bristle at using “love” in a business context – you’re not alone. In his book Love and Profit, business leader James Autry explained,

Good management is largely a matter of love, or if you are uncomfortable with that word, call it caring because proper management involves caring for people, not manipulating them.

Peter Senge, M.I.T. professor and author of bestselling books, like The Fifth Discipline, attempts to link love and business by defining love as “a genuine concern for the growth and well-being of those you serve.”

Using Autry’s and Senge’s definitions of love (caring, genuine concern, growth, and well-being) – it’s clear that business success depends on loving team members and customers.

So, how do we put that love into action? Let’s turn to philosopher Paul Tillich who suggested,

The first duty of love is to listen.

During my time as a consultant for Mercedes-Benz, Tillich’s guidance inspired a 4 step process we referred to as L.E.A.D. (an acronym that stands for Listen, Empathize, Add value, and Delight). Let’s touch on each action step.

Listen – Love requires us to sort through a deluge of sensory inputs to sustain attention and ensure the accuracy of what we hear from those we serve. Moreover, it requires us to “listen with our eyes” to observe their unstated wants and needs. Active listening skills like “parroting,” “restating,” and “paraphrasing” are essential to help our colleagues and customers experience our genuine concern.

Empathize – Understanding a person’s words and requests is one thing. It’s another to care about the feelings that connect to their words. Emerging from the German word – Einfühlung (which roughly translates to “feeling into”), empathy is a skill our clients develop as part of overall emotional and service intelligence.

Add value – Jan Carlzon (former CEO of the SAS group and customer experience pioneer) observed, “If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.” I’ve taken the liberty to modify Jan’s observation, given the harsh truth of our time. Here’s my take, “if you aren’t creating customer value, you’ll likely be replaced by technology that does.”

Delight – In its simplest form, delight is an emotional reaction that emerges when expectations are kindly exceeded. When people feel heard, emotionally understood, and have received value beyond expectation, they are delighted – especially when the service interaction ends with an authentic expression of appreciation and a desire to be of future service.

Are you willing, ready, and able to L.E.A.D. colleague and customer love?

While a deep dive into these action steps is beyond the scope of this post, you can learn more in my book about Mercedes-Benz titled Driven to Delight.

Smoke over black background

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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