We may be more connected than ever as a society but that doesn’t mean that strong relationships are a given. In fact, plenty of people report feeling increasingly disconnected— so while we’re friending and liking and commenting like crazy, that often doesn’t translate to an enduring sense of community outside of the internet.
And in this increasingly distracted and busy world, it’s easy to focus on to-do lists and bottom lines instead of relationships and connections. When you’re moving a mile a minute, it’s easy to forget that your customers are people, not obstacles or stepping stones to reaching your sales goals.
Businesses run on relationships first, not ROI. And the companies that work on creating connections — not just making deals — are the businesses that will thrive.
Here’s how focusing on being human first will help you sell more.
You’ll build a positive brand image.
Cynthia Lacy was trying to cancel her father’s cell phone service because he had recently passed away. But because the grieving daughter didn’t have her father’s PIN number, a customer service representative at the cell phone company laughed at her and told her nothing could be done. She continued to be charged for her father’s phone service. It was only when Lacy contacted the media that the company backed down and let the family out of the contract. “This is just wrong,” said Lacy.
An 89-year-old retired navy vet in Wayne, PA, was snowed in on Christmas without much to eat. Though he told his daughter he’d be fine for one day, she couldn’t take the thought of him alone on the holidays without a good meal. She called around, searching for a company that would deliver food to him. Finally, though they didn’t deliver normally, one grocery store went out of their way — delivering food to the man — and even thinking of his sodium-restricted diet — all without any charge. “I’m glad to see people out in the world care about strangers and help out,” the man’s grandchild said.
Given stories like these — heartwarming and the opposite of heartwarming — it’s no wonder consumers value brands that have a human touch. According to a consumer poll by Young and Rubicom, kindness and empathy are among the most important attributes that consumers look for in a brand.
Just like individuals, companies get to choose who they are, what set of values they ascribe to, and what matters most to them. Be the company that would always go the extra mile to help.
You’ll have honest conversations — and strengthen your business.
Treating your customers like people means building trust. When you have open and honest conversations, you naturally learn the kind of information that makes you a better business partner.
With open doors of communication, your customers are more likely to tell you when they’ve had an off interaction with one of your teammates, what features they would love to see in your next product update, or a unique way they’re using your services. Listening and being responsive to this kind of constant, organic feedback is what makes a good company great.
You’ll get more than customers — you’ll create fans.
Fans don’t just stick with you by default. They already know how great you are — and it totally geeks them out.
The thing about fans is that they want to spread the word. If you have a superfan in your life — of the Denver Broncos, say, or stuffed-crust pizza, or the band Phish — chances are you know all about the object of their affection.
When you are good to people, they’ll become your fans. And when they’re your fans, they’ll go out of their way to spread the word of your good work, your relationship building, and your great company.
What does that mean for your bottom line? According to Nielsen, recommendations from family and friends are the most trusted form of marketing. What’s more, customers are four times more likely to buy if they’ve been recommended to a business by someone they trust.
You and your team will be happier and healthier.
Treating others well, being kind, and prioritizing relationships aren’t just directly good for your bottom line. They’ll also help make your team happier and healthier — which in turn will make them more productive, more efficient, and better at building relationships. It’s a win-win cycle.
- Wharton professor Adam Grant and author of Give and Take, says that “givers” are overrepresented at the very top of the ladder of success.
- Dr. Dacher Keltner, psychology professor and Co-Director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, says that those who are compassionate and in-tune with others may be better at their jobs. Keltner says, “people trust you more, they have better interactions with you, you even get paid better.”
- Dr. Laura Honos-Webb says, “When we help others and do kind acts, it causes our brain to release endorphins, the chemicals that give us feelings of fervor and high spirits – similar to a “runner’s high.” Doing something nice for someone also gives the brain a serotonin boost, the chemical that gives us that feeling of satisfaction and well-being.”
- Studies show that people who do good for others regularly live longer.
An endorphin boost, success, and longevity — what more could you ask for? Get out there and start building authentic relationships with your customers.
Looking for more on the power of kindness? Check out our article on 5 things you need to give in sales.