Building a Loyal Customer Base
Researchers at the University of California installed some closed-circuit television systems in social settings so they could watch the interaction between couples. What they found was extremely insightful and could be useful for your convenience store.
While watching a couple on a date, they learned to read the intimacy and closeness of the relationship by the way the couple interacted with one another. It was rather like a dance. One partner would take a sip of their drink and within 30 seconds, the other partner would take a sip of their drink. One partner would cross their legs and the other would follow with crossing their legs. In social situations where the couple was not in rapport with each other, these interactions would not happen. The body movements and "dance" between these partners was little to non-existent.
So, how do you take this "mirroring and matching" method and apply it your c-store business? In essence, you follow the person with whom you are interacting. This is not only for your body movements, where you follow their crossing of their arms with your crossing of your arms (several seconds afterwards). You also mirror and match the speed of their talk -- be it slow, fast or a mile a second. Lastly, listen for the words they are using. Someone saying "I see" vs. "I feel your pain" vs. "I hear you" suggests different types of subconscious wiring.
For instance, a "seeing" person is visual. These people tend to speak quicker and look up when they think. A "feeling" person is kinesthetic. These people tend to look down when they think and speak slowly, as they search their feelings for the right words. A "hearing" person is auditory. They look sideways when they think and tend to speak slower than a seeing person, but not at the thought-between-every-word slow pace of the feeling person.
By matching and mirroring, you build the rapport that you are just like the other person. People buy from those they know, like and trust. Using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques such as this will go a long way to increasing your rapport and relationship with your customers.
As the conversation continues, you go from following their "lead" in body movement and speech to them following you. Test to see whether they are following you. If not, back up and allow them to lead again. Then, slowly move back into the lead position. Once you are in the lead position, you are able to lead your customers.
Do you lead your customers into purchases that are not in their best interest? No. You lead them to purchases that enhance and increase the value they get from your business. To do otherwise would not be treating your customers as the dear, valued, blessed friends they should be.
Ted Leithart is the founder and president of The Leithart Group LLC and creator of C-store Marketing Systems. The Leithart Group is a marketing and business-building resource provider for independent convenience stores. Leithart's marketing expertise has been utilized to build and enhance more than 500 small businesses. He can be reached at [email protected], and more of his marketing insights can be found at www.CStoreMarketingSystems.com.
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner.