The Conscious Business
CREATING EMOTIONAL EXCHANGE WITH CUSTOMERS
Last month we looked at the power of a positive emotional experience for customers engaging with a touchpoint within your business. The conscious business operator understands and operates within the “grey” zone of emotional energies, imprecise but intuitively driven possibilities which evoke excitement and enthusiasm from employees, suppliers and customers.
If one understands that this is a required way of being then the next question is how do we become capable of operating every day in this new consciousness. The ability to operate in the “grey” zone of emotional energies is made possible by the right side of our neo-cortex or “front brain”. This part of our conscious brain works with our bodies to process and make meaning of sensations, images, symbols, embodied states, and implicit memories.
What that means is that we engage with that part of our consciousness which responds to stimulation, colours, energies and sensory input such as taste, touch, smell, vision and sound, plus the imagination. These are all based on perception which means you and I have our own story or make up our own meaning from these inputs to our experience.
If one is to be successful today then one must be able to access this part of ourself as it is exactly this part of ourself that creates the positive or negative emotional experience when we do business either as the seller or as the buyer. If one can step into this part of ourself then one can step into that same part of our customers who experience our business from this same brain centre.
It is our responsibility as business owners or leaders to experience our own products and services from this part of our reality so we can assess that experience for ourself. The act of standing in the shoes of our customers in this way will generate a new awareness of what is the likely experience our customers have with us. It is true that due to the fact that this part of our reality is subjective and based on perception, we cannot embrace all those possible subjective experiences.
However what we can do is experience how our senses and our experience moves us in a negative or positive emotional way, and notice how aroused or stimulated we are from this place. We can also get a cross section of people to also report on their subjective experience of your business. Given we all operate from a subjective reality and perceive the world based on meaning from past experience then few people will have the same experience.
This is fine but what you want to gauge is the overall emotional tone of that encounter, and then work to optimise the emotional arousal of customers in a positive direction via experimentation and introducing stimulation and positive connecting experiences with your staff. You must come to know the positive emotional experience it is you want your customers to have on a consistent basis with your business. This is a baseline experience that defines your business and will shape its success.
Remember that when we as humans have an emotionally rich and positive or negative experience, our brain records this as significant and recalls it instinctively in the future when we encounter that environment, object or trigger again. We must not leave this first or subsequent customer experience to chance lest we leave a negative emotional experience in the minds of our customers. We must consciously plan for and implement a plan that will lead to the evoking of that powerful loyalty creating process in the minds of our customers.
If we work from the understanding that all human beings have innate needs to connect and belong then we operate to create the ability to first stimulate and arouse the right brain centres of our customers. This can involve visual forms such as colours, shapes, architecture, layout and design, all of which are generally well understood by Marketing staff. Evoking positive experiences in other senses such as taste, hearing and smell are less attended to by many of the same experts.
This arousal and stimulation will engender curiosity and open up the emotional Limbic brain centres, and the front right hand side brain centres for further experience. At this point emotional intelligence starts to play its role via the emotional exchange that must now emerge as a second phase of experience amongst the rich sensory stimulation taking place.
This emotional intelligence component and the whole idea of being able to grasp the right front brain reality is daunting for many people. Many people live from left front brain realities. Men are typically more left brain consciousness than right brain consciousness. The left brain works against the principles being entertained here. The Left front brain gives us our logical, rational, black and white empirical thinking and reality. It is not as simple as saying just jump from the left brain into the right brain. We are neurally wired according to our early experiences and our DNA and the brain is a habit forming mechanism whose habits are not simply changed by the force of our will.
A conscious business is only so as both hemispheres of the brain are alive and consciously aware in the workplace, and in the marketplace. Our aim is to create a powerful loyalty bond that is resilient to competitors attempts to target our customers with similar products or services that may have a compelling advantage (such as price discount). We must operate from our strengths which we consciously understand and rely on to create a compelling reason for our customers to do business with us.
A strong reason (left brain) to buy our products or services plus a positive encounter has an emotional component (right brain) is a strong equation for business success.
The conscious business operator knows that to be successful they must make both of these factors show up in their customer experience. This is the basis for a relational business model that aims over time create repeat business from loyal customers.
I know of several food and coffee outlets that inspire a customer loyalty based on these principles. They have an advantage inasmuch as their environment is already loaded with rich sensory experiences such as the smell of fresh coffee, the sight of freshly cooked and prepared food and breads, and visually rich decorations on cakes, and the cafe or shop setting having a warmth or individual stamp.
These business owners know intuitively and from business coaching I have performed with them over time how the sensory stimulation is merely the opening for engagement with the customer. They know and have learnt that it is the relationship they have with their customers in the midst of this sensory stimulation that is their real business value and differentiator.
Their rich and warm smiles, their engagement with their customers, and their service excellence creates an infectious positive emotional experience that entrains and infects new customers who happen to wander in when this ritual is being enacted. Customers feel special and wanted when the busy barista knows their order, knows how strong or fluffy their coffee is, or where their last conversation ended off.
Customer loyalty and buy-in to the experience is almost guaranteed and from there one will find their customers going out of their way to re-experience this rich sensory environment that imbues them with worth, meaning and belonging. The coffee is but the excuse to make the trek to a place of relationship. These businesses know their strengths, know what business they are really in which is the business of emotional exchange and relationships.
In my next newsletter we will explore this theme some more and look more at how to evolve your own emotional intelligence and access a right front brain consciousness so you and your staff can start the transition to the grey world of conscious business practice.
Leadership Matters – Sharpening the Saw
The concept of “Sharpening the Saw” is one of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This concept was the subject of a landmark book by Stephen Covey who is acknowledged as a thought leader of the 20th century in terms of Leadership and Emotional Intelligence.
The idea of “sharpening the saw” is that stress and sustained periods of high performance degrade the bodymind and the cognitive skills of the person concerned. A key emotional intelligence concept is to create both a “work life balance” which sustains a person as they work day to day in their business. This prevents burnout and creates resiliency to illness by preventing a person from setting themselves up to live more or less permanently in “fight or flight” that creates stress, anxiety and can lead to Depression.
A person must also take an additional amount of downtime such as holidays where they simply walk away from the business or work life for several weeks. This is true downtime that frees a person’s thinking and attention from work matters and allows them to focus on relationships, fun, relaxation, fitness or travel. It is not working from home instead of attending the office.
Trauma and Neuroscientists have found that significant periods of downtime are essential for emotional, mental and physical health. Studies show that we may need most of our 4 weeks annual leave to achieve a state of bodymind de-stressing and repair, which is the “sharpening the saw”.
Psychological studies have shown that like a sharp saw the re-energised and refreshed executive will come back to work with greater performance capabilities, increased happiness, health and resiliency to stress. This is a must for working in our hectic and stressful workplaces.
The effect of stress on the workforce cannot be overstated. Many people today find that when they take annual leave they spend much of the first week feeling sick or run down. This is no accident. Our nervous system will give us an immune system boost when we finally stop working in a stressed out way. This often leads to minor illness as our immune system deals with distress and opportunistic viruses that have got a foothold in the body. This situation signals the unhealthy state of that person’s bodymind.
So for that reason we all must take responsibility for maintaining our work life balance and ensure we make time to “sharpen the saw”. In line with this, and so I walk my talk I advise that I am going on holidays for the month of June. I will be back in early July and will explore more Emotional Intelligence considerations in our next newsletter.
If your business could do with some Emotional Intelligence training or coaching then contact us from July 7th and lets discuss how we can assist you in your conscious business evolution.
Have a safe and productive month!!
Director, Conscious Business Australia