Customers can either help you or hinder you. They can, for instance, let other people know about how wonderful you are, merely because they want to do that. On the other hand they can write negative reviews or blog posts saying how appalling your customer service has become. Clearly you want more people to be positive and helpful towards your business – but how? And why would they help your business for no personal gain?
Such behaviour – altruism – is commonplace. We like helping each other. But we only like helping people if we feel some kind of attachment or bond to them, or if we can understand their position. You recommend businesses to your friends and colleagues ever day; but they are businesses you like, admire, trust and so on. Have you ever altruistically helped someone find the right product using a company you detest? Every business depends on altruistic behaviour in the form of word of mouth. Or companies need altruistic people to help them with surveys, market research and so on. Goodwill is what keeps your business ticking over.
Generating that goodwill and the associated altruitsic behaviour does not happen easily, of course. You have to work at it. But new research conducted on both sides of the Atlantic shows that there is a “trick” you can employ to generate more altruistic behaviour. The study found that “mood elevation” triggered much more altruistic behaviour than when people were either neutral or somewhat depressed. “Mood elevation” means making people feel happy and positive.
In other words, it is rather simple. Make your customers happy and they will do more for you, out of the goodness of their heart. That might translate into increased uptake of upsells, more word of mouth, extra participation in market research. But whatever altruistic action you want customers to take, they are more likely to do what you want if you lighten their mood first. Depending on your type of business there could be several ways of doing this – humour, showing your charity work, doing something for them without prompting. In other words, if you think about the ways you can increase the mood of your customers – making them happy at specific connections with your business – then they are much more likely to help you do what you want (such as buy two instead of one, or complete an online survey).
Think about the companies you seem always prepared to help. It’s a fair chance they make you feel happy. But think about the companies you just couldn’t be bothered to assist; probably they just don’t affect your mood at all – or even they may make you rather depressed. It’s an old saying, but “keep your customers happy” seems to have some psychological backing now.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+