There is only one way to get someone to do anything, and that is by making the person want to do it. You can make your children want to do something if you yell at them long enough and loud enough. You can make your children want to clean their room if you offer them a big enough reward. No matter the threat or the prize, they will not do anything unless they want to do it. No one has to do anything except take up space and die; everything else is optional.
So why do people do the things they do? Abraham Maslow, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and many other great scholars of the human condition tell us that only two forces motivate people: the sex urge and the desire to be important. Some scholars claim that both of these desires are the same; ultimately, people are motivated by a need to be important. Positive expressions of importance are demonstrated by the success of our children, our financial success, the visibility of our accomplishments, our titles, and as many other things as there are people.
Because 80 percent of our success is based on our people skills, it is critical that we understand what each of our internal and external customers believe to be an expression of his or her importance. Understanding how a person wants to demonstrate his or her importance is the basis of knowing how to make someone want to do something. Listening with our ears, our eyes, and an open mind is the only way to gain this understanding. We will discuss listening a little later in this chapter and more fully in Chapter 8.
Question: If loyalty is only buying from the same business over and over again, can a vending machine have loyal customers?
The short answer is yes. However, even with vending machines, customers notice how well the machine is stocked, the cleanliness of the machine, and the selection. The human element is noticeably important even in the vending machine business.
Al owns a vending route in Atlanta's business district. He personally fills soda and candy machines six days a week. Al really likes his job: He has made a good living and enjoys meeting new people and old friends on his route.
Al's schedule is predictable and he knows which buildings and floors he will deliver to each day of the week. He sees many of the same people each week as he visits break rooms, kitchens, and lunchrooms around the city. It is not unusual for Al to chat with workers in these locations as he fills his vending machines. If chips or crackers have a freshness date that are close to expiration, Al leaves these products on a table for his customers. Al says that he would rather give them away than throw them away.
The office buildings that are on Al's Saturday route are usually nearly vacant. A few years ago, Al noticed that he never did as much business at the buildings he delivered to on Saturdays as the places he delivered to on weekdays. He knew the businesses had just as much traffic, but they didn't use his vending machines as much. Al changed his route and began making deliveries to his Saturday businesses on a weekday. He was visible to workers in those buildings and his sales increased to the same level as his other locations. Al now rotates his deliveries so his customers see him five out of six weeks. Even in the vending machine business people do business with people.
People doing business with people is the cornerstone principle of creating customer loyalty. All of the principles that create loyalty, which will be discussed in later chapters, are based on the interaction of people. Loyalty is a response to these interactions. People are the heart and soul of all commerce—not buildings, products, patents, or anything else.
Wendy Keller of Forth Write Literary Agency and Speakers Bureau is my agent. I love her dearly. She has helped me develop as a writer and a public speaker. Her probing questions always help both of us understand the subjects that I research.
While I was writing this book, Wendy told me that she did most of her shopping in one department store. She said there were other stores in her area that sold the same brands at the same prices, but she preferred the one store because it had windows that looked out onto the street. She told me that the people who work there have nothing to do with her decision: It was only the windows that attracted her. There was nothing special about the store, she just preferred shopping there because she could look out the window and see the street. Wendy confessed that her behavior indicates she is loyal, but it's not about people doing business with people. She chided me, "What does that do to your principle, big shot?"
Wendy was really describing the lack of personal contact. No store in her area was offering her the opportunity to do business with people. She did not have quality contact with people, so she shopped where a store building pleased her and made her feel comfortable. In effect, her repeat buying was in default of no one offering her a reason to do business elsewhere.
A store clerk that understands the principles of loyalty would introduce herself to Wendy. She would ask Wendy questions regarding her brand and style preferences. She would point out the merits of the store's selection. She would capture Wendy's contact information, and she would send Wendy a note or postcard to thank her for visiting the store. The store clerk would notify Wendy when there is a special sale or new inventory is delivered. She would make sure Wendy's size and preferences are available.
Wendy shops where she does because no one in her area is doing anything to create loyalty. The businesses in her area do not demonstrate to Wendy that she is important. Consequently, Wendy bases her loyalty on store windows because the businesses in her area do not give her a choice to do business with people.
All things being equal, people want to do business with people they like and who like them. All things being unequal, people still would rather do business with people they like and that like them.
Businesses traditionally compete on issues such as location, price, products, and selection. The best competitive tool isn't any of these things: The best competitive tool is genuinely caring about people and making them feel important.
Customers love to find a business that recognizes them by name and gladly welcomes them when they come through the door. Customers will drive extra miles, pay more money, and buy your products if you make them feel important. Of course you better have the products and selection they want if you sincerely believe they are important.