Gratitude as the Driver for Customer Experience

A good place to start on this quest for earning our customers’ attention is to consider the idea of “experience”.

Webster defines experience as “the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation”

This offers some clues on what the interaction with a brand should be. We want to influence our users and provide a way for them to gain knowledge.

Outeducating vs. Outspending Your Competition

Every brand has this education opportunity – if they stop and consider what users are after when they come to their website or social media feed. We may not articulate it, but above our heads as we hang over our laptops we are subconsciously emitting little thought bubbles like:
  • “Make me smarter.”
  • “Help be me more interesting.”
  • “Entertain me on a subject I’m passionate about.”
  • “Teach me something of value for my job.”
  • “Assist me in achieving my creative goals.”
  • “Show me how to wow my boss.”

And in exchange for providing this value, the customer will give us a tremendously precious commodity – their time.

Beware though. This does not guarantee we will become instantly more profitable as a company. No, it helps us get closer to earning the right to be considered as a solution to their problems.
When we lead our marketing efforts with this good intention it delivers an unexpected return. Gratitude is a fundamental human emotion (and that’s what great marketing is all about – brands connecting with people on an emotional level. Witness Nike and Apple). Gratitude is the sort of social lubrication that allows societies and villages to grow and prosper. If you provide value for me at no upfront cost, I in turn feel grateful and feel a desire to reciprocate this good will.
But this is not some lofty Utopian ideal.There is real evidence to support this and it comes from the growing field of study called Relationship Marketing. Researchers at the University of Washington published a study in the Journal of Marketing linking gratitude as a drive of sales growth.

Specifically, relationship marketing investments generate short-term feelings of gratitude that drive long-lasting performance benefits based on gratitude-related reciprocal behaviors.

The authors go on to state:

Overall, the research empirically demonstrates that gratitude plays an important role in understanding how relationship marketing investments increase purchase intentions, sales growth, and share of wallet. [Source].

Starting a conversation with a potential customer from this point of view immediately gives your brand a tremendous advantage. Customers are open to learning about a product’s services or competitive advantages if the brand has proved its value up front. Getting to this place of gratitude comes by keeping the customer’s needs front and center. Let’s see what happens when companies fail to take this seriously.