Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Prefer Obligation to Shame

Let’s say you think of yourself as a local retailer. You’ve operated your business in the community for a long time. Almost all your employees live in the local area. They spend most of their paychecks and you spend most of your business profits locally rather than sending the money off to some distant corporate headquarters.
     Next, let’s say a Big Box has opened a few towns away. Being a wise retailer, you take a trip to the Big Box to look over this new supersize competition. And as you’re walking through the store, you see right there in the main aisle one of your longtime customers pushing a shopping cart toward the cash/wrap. A shopping cart filled with all the sorts of items you sell in your store.
     Along with you recognizing them, they see you and immediately take on this embarrassed, sheepish appearance. Eyes looking down and shifting side to side. Shoulders slumped forward. A forced smile. They say hello.
     Your move. Do you assume that, like you, your customer is giving the Big Box a look-see, so you say, “What do you think of this new store? I came over to check it out, too.” Or do you opt for the guilt trip: “How could you ever want to spend your money here at this Big Box when you should be spending your money and your time with a local retailer?”
     Is it to your advantage to try to make the person feel guilty?
     All consumers prefer not be shamed. Adults who identify with individually oriented cultures, like the U.S., Australia, and Great Britain, are especially likely to reject shame. “Try to make me ashamed about shopping at Walmart, and I won’t stop shopping at Walmart. I’ll stop shopping with you, because I don’t like spending my money with people who try to make me feel bad.”
     Research findings from Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in Milan, Italy indicate that, rather than aiming for raw shame, you develop gratitude and a sense of obligation: “You’re one of my best customers, Jake. My guess is that’s true because my store has met your needs well. May I give you a call later to set up a time I can treat you to lunch or dinner and hear your thoughts on how I can best continue to meet the needs of you and other customers like you?”

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more:
Go for Customer Gratitude and Guilt
Know How Much Emotion to Deliver
Break Up with Customers Graciously

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