I recently read a post by Kristen Lamb that blew me away! It was about the difference between expectation and desire. Meeting the first gets you customers. Meeting the second gets you raving fans. For which one would you strive?!
This is not a new concept for readers of this blog. For example, we published this post that focused on helping more people as a key to increased success. In it, we stated: “Once you engage more people and find out their needs and wants, help meet them.” What made Kristen’s post so significant to me was her breakdown of the difference between what a person expects and what they desire. More importantly, she showed that we can all deliver what our customers desire by engaging with them and putting a very human spin on our organization. It’s that human touch that epitomizes “going the extra mile.”
Adding the Human Touch
Kristen’s post highlighted the experience she enjoyed at her favorite restaurant. It was pricey, so she expected them to create exceptional dishes. However, what she desired is what all patrons of a restaurant desire, whether knowingly or not. She desired that extra attention which made her feel special. The staff went above and beyond in providing exceptional service. They recognized she and her husband were there to celebrate their anniversary by specially preparing their table with candles and rose petals. When she let the wait staff know she had food allergies, the chef came out personally to note her dietary restrictions so he could create a meal accordingly. He even made sure to prepare a special dessert that respected her needs. They even received an anniversary card signed by the entire wait staff! Much of that wasn’t necessary, and certainly wasn’t expected, but it was definitely desired. The staff took note of Kristen’s wishes from the moment she made her reservation (she mentioned it was for her anniversary), and followed through all throughout the meal. As a result, that restaurant became the only choice for her and her husband when they chose to eat out.
What I learned from that experience is people really appreciate when we make a special effort to connect with what they truly want. Through simple observation, good listening, and most importantly a sincere interest in the welfare of others, we can provide people with an experience about which they will rave for years to come.
Interestingly, you can apply this concept both externally and internally. You absolutely should use the human touch when connecting with customers whether through traditional means or social media. You can also use it in connection with meeting the desires of teams within your organization. Let’s briefly look at both aspects.
Apply the Human Touch Externally: Social Media
The folks at Grammar Chic, Inc. have their finger on the pulse of social media marketing. I could pick any of their posts on this topic and find something in it that relates to adding that human touch by providing what people desire. For example, their post on December 9, 2013 focused on marketing to millennials. In it, they said the following:
Millennials appreciate conversational marketing. So instead of trying to create something “viral” (which usually happens by accident), make a post that is open for conversation and honest.
Open, honest conversation is the goal. That humanizes a brand and keeps it on the minds of the millennial audience. This is now an expectation. What millennials desire is feeling personally important. Even if they are not customers, they want organizations to give them feedback, and they want it now. Of course, it isn’t always possible to get such immediate, personalized attention. Most customers and prospects understand that. Therefore, meeting the expectation of open, honest conversation with reasonable response times to questions and concerns expressed through social media satisfies the majority. However, if you can meet that desire, you’ve created a fan for life!
Apply the Human Touch Internally: Integrating Teams
Sometimes you need to make fans out of people within your organization. This is especially true when implementing a new strategy to help the company move forward towards achieving their vision. SAP accomplished this recently when revamping their marketing strategy. In an article by Michael Brenner, we’re introduced to Dave Hutchinson, Head of the SAP North American Marketing Team. Mr. Hutchinson discussed how he tackled their biggest marketing challenge: scaling a marketing organization to meet the needs of a growing business on a budget that remained flat or even shrank yearly. One factor was marketing’s relationship to the sales team. Their expectations tended to keep the organization stagnated in old thinking, yet they really embraced (desired) the new vision the marketing team proposed. How did they meet the challenge? By combining the various development teams into one Programs team, they allowed the various regional units to provide the needed input that allowed Programs to build the necessary systems. Then the defined a group responsible for implementing emerging technologies, and appointed one person responsible for keeping all the teams working together, identifying and addressing any wrinkles as they appeared. By taking time to listen to the needs of the various stakeholders, Mr. Hutchinson helped SAP develop a strategy that addressed the immediate needs and established an infrastructure capable of handling future growth. Can you imagine the buy-in this approach generated?!
How YOU Can Add the Human Touch
Perhaps the most iconic image of the human touch in action is the relationship between a mother and her young child (fathers, don’t feel left out; you’re still in the mix). Why does a child feel so happy around his or mother? That happens because feelings of love, security, and genuine concern stream from the child’s parent in a healthy relationship. We can therefore benefit by adapting the actions of good parents to our business practices. Here are some suggestions from the article Reliable Advice for Raising Children found in the November 1, 2006 issue of The Watchtower:
- Spend time with them. Like children, customers require time and care. We need to set aside time from other important activities (advertising, marketing, new customer acquisition, etc.) to devote towards providing existing customers with support. Like a parent, you do so without the expectation of immediate return. You do so because you know it’s the right thing to do. Not surprisingly, when used properly, social media offers a unique way to do this.
- Communicate with them. In the article, this came under the heading “Teach Them Proper Values.” While we’re not responsible for instilling values in our customers and prospects, we are responsible for communicating our core values to them. We do this through each interaction, whether direct or indirect. The way we handle problems that arise, provide advice and support, and deal with negative reactions through social media are all key opportunities to communicate who we are and what we believe. This also highlights a point mentioned earlier – the need to listen effectively.
- Be reasonable. As leaders and business owners, we love it when customers and prospects are reasonable in what they expect of us. However, are we reasonable in our approach to them? For example, parents have expectations of their children and set goals they would like the children to achieve. However, a parent’s goal isn’t always that of their child. Similarly, as business owners and professionals, it’s natural to have expectations of customers and prospects. However, do we remember that ultimately the choice remains in their hands? While it’s important to follow the maxim of ABC (Always Be Closing), we have to guard against becoming heavy-handed. This is especially true regarding our social marketing efforts. No one likes browbeating, something existing and potential clients may perceive if every contact from us is a sales pitch.
- Benefit from reliable advice. Let’s be honest – none of us knows it all. That’s particularly true in the ever evolving world of social media. Technologies come and go. Strategies alter and adapt. Keeping ahead of the curve is a challenge we all face daily. Naturally, some of us have a better handle on certain things than others. Therefore, take advantage of their expertise. You likely also need help in other areas, such as technology, business law, marketing, advertising, and the like. There are many choices here, and you need to find solutions that fit your personal circumstances. For overall standards of living and conduct that can (and should) form the foundation of our business practices, I wholeheartedly recommend the Bible. Additionally, there are books and magazines that use Scriptural principles as a foundation for business and leadership advice. Not being the source itself, test out the counsel provided and see what works best for your circumstances.
Going the extra mile by adding the human touch and giving people not simply what they expect but what they desire will do wonders for both your professional and personal lives. This is true whether we apply the principle externally to our customers/prospects or internally to corporate teams. By benefiting from the examples shared and implementing the strategies above, you’ll find yourself naturally becoming more attuned to what people really want. When you start delivering on their desires, you’ll create fans for life. That will give you greater returns and increased satisfaction in the future, and may well increase your profitability now.
How do you add the human touch in your business practices? Have you noticed additional benefits from doing so? Please share your insights and experiences in the Comments below.
- Grandpa Looks at How (Not) to Market to Millennials (business2community.com)
- B2B Sales and Marketing Trends for 2014 (business2community.com)
- The Millennial Marketing Challenge (blogs.imediaconnection.com)
- gyroVoice: The Millennial Marketing Mix: Community, Innovation and Values (forbes.com)
- Jerry Seinfeld, Customer Experience Consultant (thehartford.com)