Ritz-Carlton, NetJets, CareerBuilder, More On Fostering Connections With Customers

Contributor: Brian Cantor
Posted: 03/13/2017
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The following is an excerpt from the 2017 CCW Winter Post-Show Report.  CCW Digital readers are encouraged to download the full report - featuring sections on omnichannel strategy, employee engagement and artificial intelligence.  Each section features commentary from accomplished executives representing big-name brands.

“You need to make emotional connections with clients,” declared CareerBuilder’s Eric Newton, a panelist and track speaker at CCW Winter.  “You need the emotional connection to drive brand loyalty.”

The effort to humanize the customer experience begins with acknowledging the importance of the emotional connection.  Businesses that strive for this connection illustrate the extent to which they understand and value the customer (including the customer’s time, effort and specific demands).  In doing so, they win support based on who they are rather than on what they sell.

That type of loyalty is far more lasting and far less vulnerable; it is the kind that allows organizations to achieve unprecedented success.

“It’s not a business plan that sells; it’s your heart – your passion and beliefs,” declared Debbi Fields, the founder and “Chief Cookie Lover” of Mrs. Fields.  “You’re not selling a product or service, you’re selling a relationship.”

“Human relationships always precede financial results,” added Diana Oreck of NetJets. “The power of emotion and empathy in service is huge.”

The good news is that organizations generally understand the value of meaningful connections.  Attendees were surveyed in conjunction with the CCW Executive Report, and they identified personalization as their #2 customer experience objective for 2017.

Striving for emotional connections during deep, high-touch conversations is incredibly intuitive.  Such conversations are so conducive to relationship-building that it would be almost insulting to approach them from a robotic, transactional perspective.

But what about interactions that are inherently transactional?  Does an organization need to foster a connection in such simple, low-touch circumstances?

The answer is a resounding yes.  The emotional connection – the sense that the brand understands the customer and is building an experience based on that understanding – is a requirement throughout the customer experience journey.  Not every interaction requires a massive gesture of courtship, but all must reflect a sense that the business knows and values its customers as individual people.

Nationwide business catering company ezCater takes this imperative very seriously.  Speaking to CCW attendees, customer service vice president Ed Ariel touted his company’s commitment to “low-touch emotional connections.”

The approach has enabled the organization to maintain high levels of customer service – and continue using service as a differentiator – even as interactions become increasingly low-touch and “transactional” in nature.

Deep conversations are a great platform for building customer relationships, but they are not the only platform for growing loyalty.  By tailoring all touch points to the voice and identify of the customer, the organization will be able to make a meaningful connection in every interaction.

“Turn every interaction into a defining moment,” advocated Jim Oliver of Ritz-Carlton.

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Contributor: Brian Cantor