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Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 at 7:30 am

Cuddle Up To Your Customers

By Mariel Bacci
November 7th, 2011

oxytocin kitty cuddleThe other day I was sending an e-mail to some colleagues using Google’s mail client.  The body of the e-mail read something like, ‘Attached you will find a document I put together that will change your lives forever and will earn me much love and respect.’  As I went to send this e-mail containing an attachment which was obviously very important for my peers to see, Gmail sent me a message, ‘Did you mean to attach files?  You wrote “see attachment” in your message, but there are no files attached.  Send anyway?”

By gosh if I didn’t say right out loud in that moment, “Google, I love you.” They had my back by knowing me better than I know myself.  I had that warm fuzzy feeling.

Warm fuzzy feeling?  I’m a scientist.  Warm fuzzy feelings or any feeling from an unknown origin leaves me curious.  What exactly happened in my mind that made me ‘Love Google?’  Can that same thing be replicated in my brain to make me ‘love’ other brands?  Can our clients leverage something in the human mind that will bond their visitors to them?

Yes.  The answer to all these questions is the nonapeptide oxytocin.  Oxytocin is known as the ‘cuddle hormone.’ It bonds men to women, mothers to babies, and can attach your visitors to your brand.

I recently read the book Quirk: Brain Science Makes Sense of Your Peculiar Personality by Hannah Holmes, which answers a lot of interesting questions about what chemicals in the brain cause people to react differently in a variety of situations.  She explores how oxytocin makes fathers out of rats.  Research was presented at Neuroscience 2010, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, that concluded people under the influence of oxytocin are more empathetic and more likely to spend money. That’s great news for you!  Even though you cannot spray your visitors with a mist of Oxytocin when they enter your website, you can milk their brains for the hormone in other ways.

You can always show pictures of babies or puppies to induce the release of Oxytocin.  We think a better, more professional, and more customer centric way to tackle this is by understanding your customers on a higher plateau by creating personas to represent them and their differences.  Do nice things for your customers.  Tailor your online experience to their needs and truthfully, try to make them happy.  Leveraging personas in this case is paramount because it helps you to create bonds with the different types of people who visit your site.

There might be an argument that improving customer experience with Oxytocin is the same as brainwashing visitors.  If a positive online experience is brainwash, chain me to the wall!  Oxytocin not only improves the bond between your brand and your visitors, it is a hormone that helps relax and reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels, increases pain thresholds, has anti anxiety effects, stimulates various types of positive social interaction, and it promotes growth and healing. I doubt anyone will complain.

The truth is, we all know that delivering a positive experience to someone can increase their trust and loyalty to your brand.  Oxytocin is one of the reasons why.  Understanding how the mind works can only help on the journey to understanding your customers.  Understanding people and their needs is more valuable than any numbers from Google Analytics or Omniture.

What is your experience with an unexpectedly positive brand experience?  Are you currently working to provide Oxytocin releasing moments in your online campaigns?  Do you leverage personas on your website to deliver bonding experiences on your site?  If you need any help getting those hormones flowing, please feel free to reach out to us.

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Comments (47)

  1. I have to admit that photo of the kitten raised my Oxytocin quite a bit. It’s an interesting concept in marketing but I like the idea of raising customer satisfaction and at the very least improving someones day.

  2. You know, I had the same experience while using Google mail, and I was like “wow!”

    Yes it’s definitely very important to get in there and provide positive experiences. I think your article is spot on and very insightful. I like your points on creating a bond.

  3. This is great advice. It’s important your clients feel good about hiring you, and excellent customer service is so rare these days.

  4. Very good article for a marketing person like me. Also, based on my experience, all of us knows what is the right or nice thing to do, but we tend to forget it. Sometimes it takes some other wise person’s effort to remember those things.

  5. Yeah, if there’s one thing Google gets. For all their technological prowess, they understand that the real sale is making that emotional connection with the user. I can’t tell you how many times google has come up with some little thing that saves me time or energy and the reaction on my part is always the same. I actually feel cared about. THAT’s how you sell yourself to your customers.

  6. Ha! Thats annoying message from Gmail has the opposite affect on me. I want to punch the screen and shout… “if i wanted to attach a file I would have.. AND STOP READING MY EMAILS!” :D

  7. I agree that it is so important to show good customer retention. I have read so many examples where people seem to treat their customers as something “the cat dragged in” and feel that we somehow are loosing it.
    The future of success is definitely going to continue being great customer service!

  8. I never really thought about positive business experiences from a brain chemistry point of view before, but these are some excellent points. I am going to look to increase the Oxytocin level of my readers from now on.

  9. Love this article the pic made me smile. :)

    Thumbs up for customer service

  10. Like the part on google reminding you to attach the file. Find them so amazing at times. Like some sort of PA at times

  11. This is excellent advice. Good customer service is so rare these days.

  12. Customer satisfaction and delight. To leave the customer remembering fondly the product or service bought – well done Google, may others follow their lead!!

  13. Customer satisfactiona and confidence have always been the backbone of marketing. These days there are various of applying it and it is important to research what resonates with your target market!
    I like the picture of the kitten. Cute!

  14. Fascinating… I rather enjoy when I am made aware of connections between biology and technology. It appears to be a thin line between love for another and love for a brand. Thanks.

  15. This is a very eye opening article. While I think we all strive to present a great customer experience, thinking of it in a warm and fuzzy way is a different concept. One that I think is much more effective. Thanks for the great article!

  16. An emotional connection is paramount, every advertiser knows this. If you can get an emotional connection you have an almost direct line to their wallet.

  17. You know Google honestly scares me. They are very smart, and they try to help. But do you know how much they know about you…what if that falls into the hands of some bad person. Is Google all that good and really not evil in any way? :-)

    I don’t like their remarketing feature for instance. You visit some online store, they place a cookie on your site and dang, everywhere you surf, google knows you’ve visited that store and they start showing you ads about it. Freaky.

  18. Thanks for the great article! Our business is the opposite of cute and cuddly…all about industrial floor coatings. We strive for ultimate customer satisfaction. Your point is spot on!

  19. This is great advice. It’s important your clients feel good about hiring you,

  20. Great advice. Emotional connection is the key! ;)

  21. Hahaha! I did feel slightly happier after looking at the adorable cat photo.
    Fantastic read, will try these strategies.

  22. I think its very true that people felt warm and welcoming when their emotion is being touched and their needs are met. they will response positively to your request as well.

  23. Hi,
    I would think somebody would be selling Oxytocin on the internet if it does what you said it does. Puppies and babies work on women and girls in bikinis work on men. Providing top notch customer service will always help with client retention.

  24. The big companies do plenty of research into the brain chemistry of buying. This is just touching the surface.

  25. It is scary what Google knows. I am continually cleaning my computer of cookies. It is very scary. Being lawyers, we are trying to figure out what to do.

  26. Wow! Thank you for the insight about customer care. My company is about health and we care for the customers’ health, but i never thought about it in business terms. Thank you!

  27. There are people selling Oxytocin on the internet!

    You’re right, customer service is an important factor in client retention.

  28. I think its very true that people feel warm and welcomed when their emotions are being touched and their needs are met. They will respond more positively to your requests as well.

  29. It is so true. I had a lecturer who always gave you a higher grade if you managed to get a picture of something cute in the assignment. Worked every time.

  30. That’s true, from our experience a high quality and speed is not enough, having satisfied customers will do magic to one’s business.
    by the way i love that kitty picture!

  31. I have been using the gmail for over 3 years now for all my projects that are important because like in the picture, my files are 100% safe and secure.

  32. There are people selling Oxytocin on the internet!

    You’re right, customer service is an important factor in client retention.

  33. I think it’s true there are a lot of brain interactions that need further study
    And deep thinking.
    Thank you.

  34. That’s really true understanding people and their needs is more valuable than any numbers from Google Analytics. Your article was really informative I appreciate your advice.

  35. Like the part on google reminding you to attach the file. Find them so amazing at times. Like some sort of PA at times ++

  36. Love the article. Its the same with photography. If you can people to develop a connection with your photo they will almost certainly buy it.

  37. This is ideal for most business owners and marketers. If a customers feels they are special, then they are most likely to come back for more of your product or services.

  38. If you are able to make software like Google does which are user friendly, the customers are going to cuddle up to you. Most of the google software is very popular IE as email, maps, photo albums etc.

  39. I am sorry but I believe that the affects of Oxytocin is way over rated for business applications. A good product or service will serve you much better.

  40. If software was more user friendly, it will definitely appeal more to the masses. Google seems to be making some good progress in this field :)

  41. This is grate advice. Good customer service is so rare our days.

  42. i think that photo of the kitten raised your Oxytocin quite a bit. It’s an kind of new concept in marketing but I like the idea of raising customer satisfaction and at the very least improving someones day. But it all depend all you guys,, just try new idea to improve it !


  43. I don’t know. It is useful but I find it a bit creepy. I forgot to attach the prices for guesthouses in Siem Reap to our listed clients and got the same warning from Google. It kind of made me wonder what else they are recording.

  44. It sometime really scares me that “They know me better than I do” but I agree with you because caring your customers is ‘must do’ for branding.

  45. Yeah, chemistry and stuff but c’mon, Google is not my mom. :)

  46. Sucking up to your customers is not always good. But I suppose the customer should always be right :P

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Mariel is a GA certified analyst at FutureNow, Inc.

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