Required Reading: Loving Relationships with Customers Have Great Worth
Amelia Dunlop, chief experience officer at Deloitte, has been building relationships with clients and helping others do the same for more than 20 years. She identifies worthiness as the key value that companies need to address in the workplace to boost customer relationships. In her new book, Elevating the Human Experience: Three Paths to Love and Worth at Work, she offers guidance to help companies close the worthiness gap. CRM editor Leonard Klie recently discussed this further with her.
CRM: How would you define love and worth, and how can they be applied in a business context?
Dunlop: When we talk about love, so many definitions and distinctions exist in addition to the familiar romantic or familial love. I define love as the choice to extend yourself for the purpose of your own or another’s growth. My leadership philosophy is one of love: People become, people grow, and people are capable of remarkable things when you love and believe in them.
Worth is someone’s intrinsic value, how they feel about themselves before even saying or doing anything. Elevating the human experience is about acknowledging intrinsic worth as a human and nurturing growth through love.
In the business world, elevating the human experience is essential, especially as the workplace and our digital environments have become such a central part of our existence. Last year, I conducted a 6,000-person love and worth survey to explore feelings of love and worth at work. I found that we do our best work when we feel worthy, and three out of four respondents say they want their company to place more value on human worth.
How do these concepts affect consumers’ relationships with companies and brands?
The fundamental needs of all humans include feelings of love and worth. That’s important to note because marketers today have an opportunity to create more human experiences, both in the real and virtual worlds. Recognizing the consumers as human beings and meeting them in the moments that matter with feelings of empathy and actions that recognize core needs and values helps build loyalty and trust.
How has that changed as companies went from in-office to hybrid or remote working environments, and has that created unique challenges?
The transition to working, shopping, transacting daily business, and socializing in a digital environment has amplified the need for human interaction and for interactions that simply recognize us as human beings. In many cases, it has created what I call a human experience debt that comes from choosing the ease and convenience of the digital world—and in many cases, the necessity—over genuine, in-person human connection.
How can companies foster a sense of love and worth in their customer interactions?
Elevating the human experience means putting human needs at the center. We want to be seen, heard, and understood. By designing customer interactions with an approach based on human-centered design, companies can create experiences that recognize the humanness of their customers. They can extend love and acceptance, and in turn, help cultivate feelings of worthiness.
These two concepts would seem to require a human. Can companies apply them to automated interactions, such as with a chatbot or IVR? If so, what would that look like?
Understanding customers and meeting them wherever they are helps companies personalize their experience. Analyzing behavioral data and feedback mechanisms can provide insights. For example, understanding customers’ values and expectations at any point in their journeys can help create more empathetic or appropriate responses. It can be as simple as acknowledging frustration with “I understand” or knowing when to escalate to a human technician.
What is the one key theme you want readers to take away from this book?
We can all do more to love each other and to recognize another’s worth. We can all be taught to love and how to cultivate empathy, courage, integrity, and grace to love each other better and elevate the experience of others. If there’s one thing I hope readers will take away from my book, it is that growing in love and worth is a continuous journey. It is always worthwhile to wake up each day asking, “What would better look like?” and to continue to demonstrate love in words and actions.