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Worthy Intentions: How Customers View Your Actions

Worthy Intentions: How Customers View Your Actions

How can financial service brands improve the quality of their relationships with customers? It’s a question asked by many leaders in financial services and is the major theme of a book called The Human Brand. The Human Brand, by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske, examines how customers perceive the actions of brands and how those perceptions influence relationships.

The book examines several strategies that brands can employ to improve the quality of their customer relationships. One such strategy involves something called the principle of worthy intentions. Acting with worthy intentions involves putting your customers’ best interests ahead of your own. Some businesses today struggle because they are viewed as greedy and untrustworthy. But, when a brand acts with worthy intentions, consumers notice and appreciate the efforts.

In previous articles focusing on The Human Brand, we examined the importance of warmth and competence. We will now discuss a brand that acts with worthy intentions, and as a result has grown a community around their brand. We’ll also see what your brand can do to demonstrate your worthy intentions to clients.

Worthy Intentions: A Lululemon Case Study

Lululemon is a yoga lifestyle and clothing brand founded in 2000 in Vancouver, Canada. In just 17 years, the brand has grown dramatically. It boasts more than 200 stores across North America and Australia; generating almost $1 billion of profit in 2016. How does a clothing company, in a very competitive industry, do so well? By acting with worthy intentions.

How has Lululemon acted with worthy intentions?

Firstly, they act with competence. They sell high-quality products (with high-quality fabrics) that their customers like to wear. Even in 2013, when the company had to issue a recall on some of their yoga pants for being too see-through, they took immediate action to rectify the situation. That action ensured that customers still saw them as the same competent brand.

Another major factor that contributes to Lululemon’s perceived worthy intentions, is that customers perceive the brand to be very warm and welcoming. Their brick-and-mortar stores are designed to be intimate and slightly messy to project a relaxed, lived-in look. They will also hem yoga pants for their customers right in the store because they want to give the customer the best experience possible. They’re demonstrating their commitment to putting the customer first by taking that extra step to satisfy customers while making them feel at home.

Building a community around each store is another essential part of their brand strategy, and helps project that warmth. They build loyalty by ingratiating themselves within their customer base. In this case, it’s local yoga influencers (yoga studios, instructors, etc.). By getting in with the studios and instructors, it brings more eyes to the product. Potential and current clients know who they are, and what they are about. And, if they’ve been treated well by the company, they will recommend it to others. They’ve established a trusting relationship.

What do these actions bring Lululemon?

Fierce loyalty from their customer base. Here are just a few examples of the success Lululemon has had thanks to their loyal communities of customers:

  • 95% of all purchases are made at full price.
  • Ranked 4th among retailers in revenue-per-square-foot in 2014
  • Increase in gross income of 42.9% since 2014.
  • Brand valued at $3.05 billion

Lululemon has done an excellent job nurturing their relationships with clients, and as a result has grown into an iconic brand with loyal, fanatical customers.

So what can you do?

1) Become more self-aware

Self-awareness is arguably the most important aspect of projecting worthy intentions to your customers. What do my clients need the most? What actions can be taken that will benefit clients? Are you treating my clients the way they want to be treated? What can you do to offer a better client experience? These are questions that, if regularly pondered, will empower your business to offer better experiences to clients.

Constantly considering how your actions, words, and decisions affect your customer’s experience ensures that your intentions are seen as positive by others.

2) Embrace change

If you aren’t willing to embrace change, your customers will question your intentions. Someone who acts with worthy intentions is willing to change if it is in the best interest of their customers. Change is a constant facet in today’s rapidly moving world. People expect change. A company that refuses to change will be seen as a relic of the past. Brands need to become comfortable with their customers being in control of the relationship.

If you can convey a willingness to embrace change that benefits your customers, your brand will be seen as having worthy intentions.

3) Look out for your customers best interests

Always look out for your client’s best interests, and they will appreciate it. Here’s a personal example:

When replacing my internet provider, the job of setting up a new modem took far longer than expected. However, the installer stayed at my house and finished the job, despite the fact that his shift was over before he was done.

The installer made decisions based on what would be in my best interests. Even though he had every right to say “I couldn’t get it set up” and leave, he didn’t. He ate into his own Friday evening to help me and my family set up our internet, and it was greatly appreciated.

By looking out for our best interests, this internet installer showed my family his worthy intentions (and developed some loyalty for his brand).

4) Project warmth

To show that you have worthy intentions, you absolutely have to project warmth to the client. Without warmth, your intentions will most likely not be trusted. More information about projecting warmth (and competence) can be found in our article: Projecting Warmth & Competence.

Takeaways for Financial Service Professionals

In financial services, having worthy intentions might just be more important than in any other industry. Due to the sensitive nature of a person’s finances, they often require an additional level of trust in their financial agent. People need to trust their financial service provider more than they trust the person selling them pants.

Financial services professionals need to be very self-aware as to how they are perceived by clients. If you project anything except concern for their financial situation, acceptance of their decisions, and confidence in your ability, you may lose the trust your clients have placed in you. Be willing to change your plans to accommodate the needs of your clients. If you constantly survey how you can provide better services to your clients, they will see that your intentions are good. 

Operating with worthy intentions should be as important to financial services professionals as projecting warmth and competence to your clients. It plays a huge role in how you are perceived by your client base and in turn, how loyal your customers are.

Thank you for reading! Acting with worthy intentions is an exercise in treating people the way they want to be treated by brands. If you want to see more articles like this one, follow us on Twitter @VeridayHQ!