“The customer is not always right, but your job is never to show them how they’re wrong. Your job is to be professional, courteous, accommodating….and to demonstrate emotional maturity…even (and especially) under stress.” – Steve Dorfman
It may seem too much of a task for a company to not only provide top class service, but also to take the stress out of customer buying decisions. However, the fact is that customers just have to make buying decisions daily and sometimes several times during the day. Some of these decisions are really hard and exhausting since there are now several companies that have similar products and services. While some buying decisions may be easier, others may seem like an uphill task, which could leave customers exhausted and stressed. Some of the harder decisions are probably so because of the nature of the products and services, and the business policies of a company. Customers have their list of preferences that would affect their buying decisions but could make decisions with regard to attributes that they do not rate highly. The reason for this is usually stress related to buying or with stressful situations that have to do with their personal and professional lives.
As mentioned, emotions are the top reasons why customers prefer one product to another and these products would usually be from reputed brands. This would despite the fact that other ‘non-branded’ products would also be available, and at lower prices. It is surprising then that customers prefer to pay more for ‘branded’ products, but the reason usually is that these brands create emotional connections with their customers. These brands begin to epitomize all the thoughts and feelings customers have with regard to products. As customers continue buying, these brands intensify the emotional content and mental ‘space’ in the mind of the customer, leading customers to brand advocacy and loyalty. However, reaching this stage with customers is not easy unless a company take the stress out of customer buying decisions by identifying and understanding what causes customers to undergo stress when buying.
We have said earlier that one of the basics of top class customer service is to simplify the lives of customers. An increasing number of companies and brands are beginning to understand this fact and hence, putting in processes that take the stress out of customer buying decisions. However, companies need to think beyond the scope of just the business dealing – they need to assess what they can do with their offerings to understand the other reasons for customer stress and reduce the ‘pain’ for their customers. Anxious and stressed customers are possibly the most challenging kind of customers for any business. However, if a company is truly focused on their customers they would put in place strategies and operating guidelines that would positively influence customers, and enhance they value they derive from the company. This in turn would provide perceptions of quality and value from the company, which would result in highly satisfied, engaged, and over time, loyal customers. Companies need to identify the emotional and stress triggers for their customers, and then swiftly respond to their emotions.
The responsibility of serving customers, as we know, lies with each person in a company and it is the onus of the company to hire and train its people in the art of empathy, understanding customer emotions, and dealing with each customer in an individual and respectful manner. The most basic emotional requirement from any customer would be to receive service and unless they receive top class service through every interaction, their negative emotions of stress and anger would become dominant. These negative emotional triggers would be the ones that customers would use to assess and speak about the company. However, companies that maintain focus of taking the stress out of customer buying decisions, would make every effort to ensure that their customers never reach the stage of negativity and even if they did for some unforeseen reason, the company would use these emotions as opportunities to delight the ‘emotional customer’ through top class service recovery. In order to keep such negative emotions to the minimum, it is important for a company to put proactively in place strategies and checks. Irrespective of the kind of strategies that a company puts in place, the aim should be to encourage customers to understand their pain areas, know the best manner and channel to communicate them, and to know that the company would do everything possible to alleviate their stress and remove their negative emotions.
During times when customers feel stressed or face a crisis, the support they receive from their service provider companies can have a lasting positive impact. Supporting customers during such times can turn them into lifetime supporters of the company – both in terms of adding revenue and spreading the positive word of mouth. However, companies that fail to recognize the problems of their customers can easily alienate them because they would feel ignored, unimportant, and even powerless to deal with the situation. Such positive or negative experiences form a huge part of the customer buying decisions and failure in their duress situations could mean losing customers forever. Taking the stress out of customer buying decisions for a company is all about keeping customers informed, by staying ahead through updated information and keeping abreast with industry trends. It is human nature to worry about the future and the normal response is to imagine the worst – a company that recognizes these fears and does whatever it takes to put customers at ease, would become the preferred partner for a very long time.
Whatever the situation, the fact is that customers expect that their needs are responded and attended to, in an efficient and speedy manner. This is crucial for their emotional stability, which in turn allows them to make better and speedier buying decisions. Such emotional awareness on the part of the company, of its customers, should start at the very beginning of the relationship. Doing so will engage customers faster and make them connect emotionally with the company – such feelings ensure that customers stay with a company for a very long time, remain profitable, and ‘reel’ in more business for it. Taking the stress out of customer buying decisions is about providing them with as much information as possible, ensuring transparency in the transactions and overall ensuring that everyone in the company communicates with customers in way that is reassuring and displays care.
The reason that customers seek out companies that can ease their buying decisions is that these decisions are stressful – simply for the fear of making the wrong choices. While customers do have access to a lot of information now, this is actually a cause of stress since they have no way of verifying the authenticity of these messages. Stressed customers are unlikely to be able to make decisions, thereby keeping them away from the buying process. A company that is able to cut through the ‘noise’, provide pertinent and customized information to customers, and overall appear supportive, would have a better chance of being chosen by customers to engage in business. Clarity builds trust, and trust reduces stress, which in turn allows customers to think and take a well-informed decision with regard to purchases.
Every customer is an opportunity to increase business and remain competitive. Hence, a company that recognizes this herculean battles that their customers may face daily, would be better equipped to take the stress out of customer buying decisions. Happy and relaxed customers prove to be the best and most powerful ‘weapon’ for any company, making it a force to reckon with.