(Or Your Product, Or Your Service)
I had a really fun dinner at a Thai restaurant by the beach with a single female friend pondering the unanswerable question – what exactly makes two people fall in love? We pontificated and laughed and blurted out unprintable answers spurred on by potent Thai chilies, and left the evening happy but unsuccessful in our quest.
Well, I think I may now have an answer.
From a source not truly known for its authority on matters of the heart – The New York Times. In the article, the author tells how over 20 years ago, a psychologist named Arthur Aron, succeeded in making two strangers fall in love in his laboratory.
Here’s what happened:
Two strangers, a heterosexual man and woman, entered the lab through separate doors and saw each other for the first time. They sat face to face and gave each other answers to a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stared silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. Six months later, they got married. The entire lab was invited to the ceremony. True story.
You need to read these questions. So, why do they work?
Let’s face it. We all have a timeworn narrative we offer up to strangers and acquaintances about how great we are. Product and Service companies have that narrative with strangers and acquaintances too – it is called copy on a website or advertising in the media. Professional service firms are not exempt – they have elevator pitches and whitepapers and PowerPoint decks.
But Dr. Aron’s questions make it impossible to rely on that narrative. His questions make both parties increasingly vulnerable through sustained, escalating, reciprocal and personal self-disclosure. It is that mutual vulnerability that fosters closeness. And that closeness leads to love.
Who among you does not want your customer to fall in love with your product or service?
In 1982, Tylenol desperately wanted their customers to love their product again after seven people died from taking capsules of Extra-Strength Tylenol that had been laced with cyanide. So, in what has been often cited as one of the best examples of crisis management, CEO James E. Burke started a sustained, escalating, reciprocal and personal process of candid disclosure with his customers – the American people. He took full responsibility for making Tylenol safe, the company opened thousands of 800 numbers for people to call and interact, and sent over 450,000 telexes (after all, it was 1982) to doctors offices, hospitals and trade groups. And, that was just the first day. The rest is history.
But you don’t have to wait until a crisis happens to get your customers to fall in love with you.
It’s 2015. Social media and the Internet give us the ability to truly engage our customers with interactive dialogue. Yet, so few businesses really use it for this purpose.
Ask your customers questions. Respond to their answers. Listen to what they say. Be candid. Be real. Be successful.