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The future of Customer Service: build emotional connections, make more money

Much of our series on scaling customer support was focused on setting up tools, processes, and staff. But once your organization is humming along, successfully answering all your tickets within an hour, what do you do? Sit back and relax? Retire?

You certainly could. But there’s an opportunity to retain even more of the customers you talk to, making your company even more money (and making you and your team invaluable). How? By building emotional connections with your customers.

amazon boxes huggingWhy does an emotional connection matter?

Because people are more likely to spend money when they make an emotional connection. In one of my favorite books, Made to Stick, a study (pg. 165) shows this in action. They gave a group of people (Group A) a charity-request letter listing out a number of stats about the many problems that children in Africa face. Group B got a charity-request letter which focused on a single African girl’s situation. Group B, who made this emotional connection, donated twice as much. Apply that to customers making an emotional connection with a support staff member vs simply getting a bill in the mail. Which do you think would be more likely to remain a customer?

Proof is in the data

As we’ve previously mentioned, Argyle Social (the fantastic social media software we use) allows us to see which posts of ours someone read before they ended up signing up for our service. And what do we see? Photos of our team (game nights, halloween costumes, our CEO wearing a Thor helmet, etc) end up contributing to huge amounts of sales.

Let’s be clear: these posts aren’t the only reason people are signing up – people do love our product - but the data certainly suggests that these posts are helping push people over the line to purchasing. And it makes sense, right? If you were choosing between two very similar pieces of software, wouldn’t you choose the one with this photo on their Facebook page?

argyle value

How do I build these emotional connections?

The UserVoice example above was done through outbound publishing, but you can also accomplish this through 1-to-1 conversations between customers and support staff.

Zappos recently wrote about how they try to create a PEC (“Personal Emotional Connection”) in every call. First, they’re trained to listen for any personal details they can build upon. A dog barking might lead to a conversation about breeds, the purchase of hiking boots might lead to a conversation about the best hike they’ve taken, or a death in the family might lead to a bouquet of flowers. In recent months they’ve even taken technical steps to encourage this sort of communication, such as automatically routing calls from specific states to support reps who used to live there.


Hug photo courtesy of blentley.