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Approaching Customers With Love

Ear­ly on in my Apple career, my man­ag­er asked me how it was that I got lots of cus­tomer sur­vey respons­es and had a 100% cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion rat­ing. With­out even think­ing about it, I replied, “Because I approach every cus­tomer with love.”

I was­n’t real­ly able to explain that state­ment as eas­i­ly as I would like, but I think I could do so bet­ter now because of Bar­bara L. Fredrick­son’s Love 2.0: Find­ing Hap­pi­ness and Health in Moments of Con­nec­tion. Fredrick­son defines love as “that micro-moment of warmth and con­nec­tion that you share with anoth­er liv­ing being.”

I can­not rec­om­mend her book strong­ly enough. I will quote a rather long, but worth­while, pas­sage, to expand on her def­i­n­i­tion of love and bet­ter explain what I mean.

…love is an emo­tion, a momen­tary state that aris­es to infuse your mind and body alike. Love, like all emo­tions, sur­faces like a dis­tinct and fast-mov­ing weath­er pat­tern, a sub­tle and ever-shift­ing force. As for all pos­i­tive emo­tions, the inner feel­ing love brings you is inher­ent­ly and exquis­ite­ly pleasant—it feels extra­or­di­nar­i­ly good, the way a long, cool drink of water feels when you’re parched on a hot day. Yet far beyond feel­ing good, a micro-moment of love, like oth­er pos­i­tive emo­tions, lit­er­al­ly changes your mind. It expands your aware­ness of your sur­round­ings, even your sense of self. The bound­aries between you and not-you—what lies beyond your skin—relax and become more per­me­able. While infused with love you see few­er dis­tinc­tions between you and oth­ers. Indeed, your abil­i­ty to see others—really see them, wholeheartedly—springs open. Love can even give you a pal­pa­ble sense of one­ness and con­nec­tion, a tran­scen­dence that makes you feel part of some­thing far larg­er than yourself.

…Per­haps counter-intu­itive­ly, love is far more ubiq­ui­tous than you ever thought pos­si­ble for the sim­ple fact that love is con­nec­tion. It’s that poignant stretch­ing of your heart that you feel when you gaze into a new­born’s eyes for the first time or share a farewell hug with a dear friend. It’s even the fond­ness and sense of shared pur­pose you might unex­pect­ed­ly feel with a group of strangers who’ve come togeth­er to mar­vel at a hatch­ing of sea tur­tles or cheer at a foot­ball game. The new take on love that I want to share with you is this: Love blos­soms vir­tu­al­ly any­time two or more peo­ple— even strangers—connect over a shared pos­i­tive emo­tion, be it mild or strong.

Fredrick­son rede­fines love as “pos­i­tiv­i­ty res­o­nance.”

“Odds are, if you were raised in West­ern cul­ture, you think of emo­tions as large­ly pri­vate events. You locate them with­in a per­son­’s bound­aries, con­fined with­in their mind and skin. When con­vers­ing about emo­tions, your use of sin­gu­lar pos­ses­sive adjec­tives betrays this point of view: You refer to “my anx­i­ety,” “his anger,” or “her inter­est.” Fol­low­ing this log­ic, love would seem to belong to the per­son who feels it. Defin­ing love as pos­i­tiv­i­ty res­o­nance chal­lenges this view. Love unfolds and rever­ber­ates between and among peo­ple—with­in inter­per­son­al transactions—and there­by belongs to all par­ties involved, and to the metaphor­i­cal con­nec­tive tis­sue that binds them togeth­er, albeit tem­porar­i­ly. The biol­o­gy of love, as you’ll see in chap­ter 3, con­curs. Love alters the unseen activ­i­ty with­in your body and brain in ways that trig­ger par­al­lel changes with­in anoth­er per­son­’s body and brain. More than any oth­er pos­i­tive emo­tion, then, love belongs not to one per­son, but to pairs or groups of peo­ple. It resides with­in con­nec­tions. It extends beyond per­son­al bound­aries to char­ac­ter­ize the vibe that pul­sates between and among peo­ple. It can even ener­gize whole social net­works or inspire a crowd to get up and dance.”

While Fredrick­son focus­es on phys­i­cal pres­ence as being vital for pos­i­tive resonance—and I agree that phys­i­cal pres­ence is ideal—I find that it is entire­ly pos­si­ble to achieve pos­i­tive res­o­nance over the phone or in chat, as well. The way we use our voic­es, our atti­tudes, our word choic­es, they can all con­tribute to that pos­i­tive res­o­nance. Some few peo­ple won’t be will­ing to meet us there, but our aware­ness of micro-con­nec­tions and will­ing­ness to estab­lish them can make an enor­mous dif­fer­ence in our and their experiences.

Use the cus­tomer’s name. Show con­cern for their feel­ings. Remem­ber and refer appro­pri­ate­ly to what they’ve said about their lives, just as you would do with a friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber. “Small talk” isn’t small at all. Pay atten­tion to what­ev­er is already in the case notes so they don’t have to repeat them­selves, just as you would­n’t want to repeat your­self. Treat the per­son on the phone as you would want your own moth­er or broth­er or best friend treat­ed. Show­er them with love, and you may just find your­self feel­ing love returned from your customers.

As a result of treat­ing every­one with love, I find the major­i­ty of peo­ple in this world pos­i­tive and lov­ing. You can as well!