Early on in my Apple career, my manager asked me how it was that I got lots of customer survey responses and had a 100% customer satisfaction rating. Without even thinking about it, I replied, “Because I approach every customer with love.”
I wasn’t really able to explain that statement as easily as I would like, but I think I could do so better now because of Barbara L. Fredrickson’s Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection. Fredrickson defines love as “that micro-moment of warmth and connection that you share with another living being.”
I cannot recommend her book strongly enough. I will quote a rather long, but worthwhile, passage, to expand on her definition of love and better explain what I mean.
…love is an emotion, a momentary state that arises to infuse your mind and body alike. Love, like all emotions, surfaces like a distinct and fast-moving weather pattern, a subtle and ever-shifting force. As for all positive emotions, the inner feeling love brings you is inherently and exquisitely pleasant—it feels extraordinarily good, the way a long, cool drink of water feels when you’re parched on a hot day. Yet far beyond feeling good, a micro-moment of love, like other positive emotions, literally changes your mind. It expands your awareness of your surroundings, even your sense of self. The boundaries between you and not-you—what lies beyond your skin—relax and become more permeable. While infused with love you see fewer distinctions between you and others. Indeed, your ability to see others—really see them, wholeheartedly—springs open. Love can even give you a palpable sense of oneness and connection, a transcendence that makes you feel part of something far larger than yourself.
…Perhaps counter-intuitively, love is far more ubiquitous than you ever thought possible for the simple fact that love is connection. It’s that poignant stretching of your heart that you feel when you gaze into a newborn’s eyes for the first time or share a farewell hug with a dear friend. It’s even the fondness and sense of shared purpose you might unexpectedly feel with a group of strangers who’ve come together to marvel at a hatching of sea turtles or cheer at a football game. The new take on love that I want to share with you is this: Love blossoms virtually anytime two or more people— even strangers—connect over a shared positive emotion, be it mild or strong.
Fredrickson redefines love as “positivity resonance.”
“Odds are, if you were raised in a Western culture, you think of emotions as largely private events. You locate them within a person’s boundaries, confined within their mind and skin. When conversing about emotions, your use of singular possessive adjectives betrays this point of view: You refer to “my anxiety,” “his anger,” or “her interest.” Following this logic, love would seem to belong to the person who feels it. Defining love as positivity resonance challenges this view. Love unfolds and reverberates between and among people—within interpersonal transactions—and thereby belongs to all parties involved, and to the metaphorical connective tissue that binds them together, albeit temporarily. The biology of love, as you’ll see in chapter 3, concurs. Love alters the unseen activity within your body and brain in ways that trigger parallel changes within another person’s body and brain. More than any other positive emotion, then, love belongs not to one person, but to pairs or groups of people. It resides within connections. It extends beyond personal boundaries to characterize the vibe that pulsates between and among people. It can even energize whole social networks or inspire a crowd to get up and dance.”
While Fredrickson focuses on physical presence as being vital for positive resonance—and I agree that physical presence is ideal—I find that it is possible to achieve positive resonance over the phone or in chat, as well. The way we use our voices, our attitudes, our word choices, they can all contribute to that positive resonance. Some few people won’t be willing to meet us there, but our awareness of micro-connections and willingness to establish them can make an enormous difference in our and their experiences.
Use the customer’s name. Show concern for their feelings. Remember and refer appropriately to what they’ve said about their lives, just as you would do with a friend or family member. “Small talk” isn’t small at all. Pay attention to whatever is already in the case notes so they don’t have to repeat themselves, just as you wouldn’t want to repeat yourself. Treat the person on the phone as you would want your own mother or brother or best friend treated. Shower them with love, and you may just find yourself feeling love returned from your customers.
As a result of treating everyone with love, I find the majority of people in this world positive and loving. You can as well!