Aristotle’s Method Applied to Customer Engagement (Josh Forman)
Engaging with your customers is essential if you are building a technology company whose revenue model relies on recurring subscriptions. First, you must engage with them pre-sales to gain their business. Then, you must continually engage with them to ensure they re-subscribe when their contract is up for renewal. By engage, I mean to move beyond basic interaction and take an active interest such that they want to continue the relationship. As an analogy, take the below first-date scenarios:
For which situation will there be a second date? To ensure that the conversation with your customers always moves forward, you want every customer interaction in the customer lifecycle to actively engage your customer. In this post, I will explain how to facilitate creating that engagement.
It is based on a method first proposed by Aristotle in the fourth century BC. He framed it as a method to persuade an audience. I have found that it serves well as a way to think about engaging with your customers. Aristotle believed that you must appeal to the Ethos, Pathos, and Logos of the interaction to effectively persuade. I will briefly describe each and how it relates to engaging with your customers.
In the realm of ethics, Ethos is why the listener would be interested in what the speaker has to say. In what way is the presenter of the information credible such that their opinion is worthy of consideration?
As a technology company, when speaking to your customers, you must be seen as an authority. The more of an authority you are, the better. See the graph below:
For example, if you are selling a new web support system to a consumer electronics company, think of how your credibility with the customer increases when you move from being an expert on web support systems, to having experience with the general problem of customer satisfaction, to being well-versed in all current issues in the consumer electronics industry and how those issues are affected by customer satisfaction.
In the realm of passion, Pathos is inspiring an emotional connection between the speaker and the audience which is inspired by the topic. The listener feels something in their body that compels them to pay attention.
There is a thought in sales that people buy on emotion, and justify it with their heads. I argue that this is true of every customer touchpoint. With each interaction, the customer will judge whether or not it was a worthwhile exchange based on emotion first. Too many interactions where the customer feels no value, and you risk losing them. It is the job of every person who talks to your customers to know how to include Pathos in their interactions.
In the realm of logic, Logos is making sure that what the speaker says is compelling to the intellect. The argument being presented must have a logical sequence that the audience can understand.
Without sound reasoning, you will confuse your customers. As you walk them through problem resolution or create a vision for how they can successfully solve new problems with your product, the customer must be able to connect the dots and understand for themselves how they can get there.
Every company should know where their customer touchpoints are. It almost certainly exists in multiple places – your sales team, professional services, and/or support. Consider creating a Customer Touchpoint Map, for explicit awareness of where and with whom your customers interact with your organization. You then need to ensure that you have processes in place and the right people empowered with the right tools to use Ethos, Pathos, and Logos to engage and inspire your customers to always look forward to the next conversation. That is how you create happy customers who want to stay connected to your company and products.
Josh Forman consults and mentors start-up technology companies on customer engagement. He was most recently VP Customer Success at Symplified. He welcomes opportunities to discuss moving customers forward and can be contacted at email@example.com. You can also see more customer engagement ideas on his blog at joshuajforman.com.