The average person meets upwards of 10,000 people in their lifetime. That number highly depends on who we are and what we do. A salesperson might interact with thousands in a single year in contrast to someone who works from home, who will have far fewer exposure to new people.
Meeting a new person is always a bit of a step into the unknown. What do they want, what do they think, how do they make decisions, what's important for them? Since it’s a fairly normal process for most of us, we typically run-on autopilot. But from time to time, we feel an instant connection with somebody new.
It might have happened with a stranger at a party. Maybe with the seat neighbor on an airplane. If it was our lucky day, it has happened during a job interview or within minutes of meeting a new colleague at work. When it happens, it's special. Everything the other person says resonates with us. The speech rhythm matches, the conversation flows like rushing water. No awkward silence, not even a moment of irritation or misunderstanding. In short, we 'clicked' with them.
The 'click' does not happen often but when it does, it typically comes as a surprise. A sudden 'high speed connection' that enables a rush of intimacy, an instant bond and a sense of trust. It's the social equivalent to a flawless Olympic gold-medal run. Scientists call it neural synchrony, the simultaneous firing of neurons in multiple areas of the brain.
We all know the phenomena and for some of us the best stories around 'the click' is meeting our future husband or wife, a dear friend or a future business partner. So why is that relevant in customer centricity?
It's good for business!
Being on the same wavelength does not automatically lead to life altering experiences. We might have connected really well with the car salesperson or the call center agent, but don’t necessarily want to become friends for life. Nevertheless, the mechanism in these instances is the same. People click when they draw on a common value system and mutual interests and companies have learned to leverage that.
People buy Porsche or Tesla not because they want to have just a car. They want to stand out and drive something special. Apple users are often fans of the brand and enjoy the seamlessness and elegance of the whole Apple experience. Whoever goes into an outdoor store typically enjoys a bit of adventure and the outdoors. Smart retail chains hire employees who identify with the product and the brand. When the customer walks through the door, the foundation for 'the click' is set: a strong common interest.
That raw energy needs to get funneled and that's why we train customer facing people to adopt the right behaviors. 'Clicking' can be triggered if one side consciously syncs postures, vocal rhythms, facial expressions, and even eyeblinks with the other side. We all feel more connected with people whose behaviors match our own.
Psychologist Meredith Fuller says to ask these questions to identify whether another person is someone you ‘click’ with:
When I’m with that person, do I feel relaxed and alert?
Do I feel I can be myself and do I feel like I’m not being judged?
When I leave the interaction, do I feel that I’ve been heard, understood, listened to and validated?
Do I feel valued?
These are the laws of attraction. If your customer answers ‘yes’ to all, they are likely to build trust much faster. They buy more, they tell their friends about the great experience and are likely to come back.
Companies that do create amazing customer intimacy are Apple, T-Mobile in the US, Trader Joe's, to some extend Starbucks and even fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A. There is almost unlimited value in connecting better with your customers.