This is the fourth in a series of blogs on Doing Business in a Downturn.  If you missed the previous blogs you can find them here – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Now that you have created an environment conducive to doing business, let’s take it a step further and consider how meeting our customers’ human needs builds even better relationships and creates a stickiness that is highly valued in a tight market.

If these 6 human needs are met at a high level in an environment, people are more likely to stay in that environment than they are to leave.  People display a sense of loyalty and support for those who create and make available environments designed to meet their human needs.

1.     Certainty

There needs to be certainty around the buyer’s experience.  The customer want to know that the product or service will be delivered; that you will do what you say you will do when you say you will do it; that the shopping experience is on brand and consistent.  There is no confusion.

2.     Variety

There is a desire for certainty and on the other hand, a need for uncertainty or variety to keep the relationship interesting.  Otherwise boredom sets in and there is a sense of same old same old.  You need to switch it up, add something different from time to time, and create surprises and excitement.

3.     Significance

Your customer wants to feel like they matter, that they are not just a number or merely a source of revenue.  They want to be treated like a VIP.  They want to be thanked and invited back.

4.     Connection

What can you do to enable your customers to feel like they belong to your business community?  How do you nurture your customers post sale?  How do you keep the connection between your customers vibrant and close?  How often will you make contact and how?

5.     Growth

What role do you play in educating your customers in areas related to your core business?  Do you hold workshops?  Do you have a newsletter, an e-book or podcasts?

6.     Contribution

How can you facilitate your customer’s ability to make a contribution beyond themselves?  How can they share in your passion?  How can they add value to the community because they do business with you?

At Opening Gates, we help our clients design business communities and cultures around these 6 human needs through our Culture Collaborative workshops.  Some of the most successful businesses embrace this concept.

In a bullish market when buyer demand and confidence is high there is a tendency to relax the focus on meeting the human needs of your customers and perhaps the impact is less visible.  However, when the market turns and demand and confidence begins to falter you must revisit and refocus on this crucial human element.

Focusing on energy and human needs, constantly and consistently, will give you a competitive edge, especially in a challenging economic environment.  Do not make the mistake of dismissing these concepts as fluffy or without substance.  If you do so it will be at your detriment.

This work may not require a significant cash investment.  It does, however, require a continual awareness of how you and your team are being and a commitment to stay on track – to bring high energy and to do what it takes to meet your customers’ needs.  This is the time to smile and engage in an authentic caring way.

Ask yourself these questions to assess how well you are meeting your customers’ human needs.

  1. Certainty – How can you be sure that you do what you say you will do when you say you will do it?
  2. Variety – How will you mix it up and bring something new to the table.  Any surprises?
  3. Significance – How will you demonstrate that your customers are important and that their well-being matters?
  4. Connection – How will you nurture your customer and invite them into your vibrant business tribe?
  5. Growth – What will you do to enable your customer to expand their knowledge, to grow physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.
  6. Contribution – What does making a contribution beyond yourself look like for your customers and their experience with you?

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