There are Staten Islanders who recall a time before the Internet when it was common for business owners and their customers to speak with one another and engage as individuals.
“To be truly successful, business owners needed to connect with customers as human beings, not just as consumers purchasing services or products. And despite today’s fast-paced, hi-tech shopping culture, the same core tenet holds true: Business owners must find ways to not only appeal to customers’ desire for quality merchandise or services, but also to their hearts,” said John J. Amodio, chairman of SCORE-Staten Island.
It seems somewhat contradictory, but the more technologically savvy buyers become – and the less time they spend visiting stores or talking to services providers on the phone – the more they want a personal, emotionally gratifying experience with businesses.
In an article by consumer intelligence experts Alan Zorfass and Daniel Leemon in a Harvard Business Review article, “Our research across hundreds of brands in dozens of categories shows that the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level.”
What does this mean for you as an entrepreneur?
“Instead of just transactions, your business must make memorable interactions,” Amodio said. “To gain a competitive edge and win customer loyalty, you must make an emotional connection with buyers.”
Throughout the buyer’s journey, your business has opportunities to emotionally engage with your prospects and customers.
“To succeed at it, you must be cognizant of those occasions to shine – and guide your team in making the most of those moments,” said Amodio as he highlighted three important tips from SCORE-Staten Island:
1) Listen to your customers.
2) Make your brand relatable.
3) Learn to tell a great story.
LISTEN – REALLY LISTEN
Take the time to fully understand what your prospects and customers need. Whether they’re inquiring about how your services can solve their problems, have a question about their invoice, or don't understand a product feature, give them your full attention. And repeat their need, question or issue back to them to show that you've been tuned in.
HUMANIZE YOUR BRAND
Your marketing and branding efforts offer many channels for demonstrating that there are people – real people – behind your logo. When you make your website content, blog posts, and social media posts conversational rather than stiff and impersonal, people will find your brand more human and relatable.
Also, consider supporting a (non-controversial) cause that people care about. Hosting a coat drive for kids in need, donating a portion of your proceeds to a shelter or participating in some other initiative to show your involvement in the community can create goodwill for your business.
EMBRACE THE POWER OF STORYTELLING
Consider creating case studies and success stories of how your products and services have made a difference in your customers’ lives. Video testimonials can be particularly effective as they show real people express their experience with your company.
And don’t forget about your business’s behind-the-scenes stories. Consider crafting write-ups, photos, and videos of your team members. Besides their on-the-job expertise, perhaps they have a fascinating hobby or community involvement that would resonate with your audience.
Get creative – and share your stories on your website, in your blog, in email marketing blasts, and on social media.
“As you’re developing your customer experience strategy, reach out to SCORE-Staten Island to connect with a mentor, Amodio advised. “SCORE mentors can guide you and provide feedback. With expertise in all aspects of starting and growing a small business, SCORE mentoring is a valuable – and free – resource that can help you succeed.”
About SCORE-Staten Island
SCORE-Staten Island is dedicated to fostering a vibrant small-business community within its New York City borough by providing cost-free education and confidential mentoring to both aspiring and established
entrepreneurs. Headquartered at 950 West Fingerboard Road, Grasmere, in the iconic Staten Island Advance Building, the organization is Chapter 476 of the nationwide SCORE, a nonprofit association and resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). For additional information, or to schedule an appointment, SCORE-Staten Island may be visited at https://statenisland.score.org; telephoned at 718-727-1221; emailed at info@SCORESI.org, and visited on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SCOREStatenIsland.
Media Contact: Barton Horowitz
Relevant Public Relations, LLC