Recently, I received an e-mail from a former student with the title “Life Changing Class.” What a wonderful email to receive! I was not just pleasantly surprised at the positive affect the kind words induced in me, but rather at this idea in particular – life changing experiences – and the effect of this idea on business.
When I was managing a sales team, I maintained a platform I called “Changing Lives”. I have a number of friends with careers in the medical industry, and in part, at the time, I was trying to justify my life decisions. I also saw the psychology of shopping as a way to think about and find meaning in our work. When a woman came in to buy something – this was often an emotional event. Sometimes happy (i.e., first date), sometimes depressing (i.e., my clothes don’t fit), sometimes heartbreaking (i.e., funeral). Regardless, I saw this as an opportunity to connect with our customers and not just provide “service”, but provide a valuable “experience.”
“Changing Lives” does something very fundamental to your mindset about business – it makes your customers an end in and of themselves: not a means to profit, not a means to success, but a human being who is deserving of being treated with dignity. This opens the space to create a relationship – energy, positive affect, connection – that will create an experience for the recipient that is unique and, perhaps, transformative. Because the energy is directed toward providing a transformative experience for another person, this opens up the possibility that they will find positive change from it.
I try to change lives by building relationships with people at different points in my life: friends, employees, students, etc. It is not the fact that this student enjoyed the class, but rather that he was able to put the ideas to use in a meaningful way – having his own life changed. That is powerful, positive, business.
Evidence of the benefits of retail therapy can be found in this blog post (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-why-behind-the-buy/201305/why-retail-therapy-works) and in this working paper (https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/100258/1208_Rick_Jan14.pdf). I believe retail therapy is a foundation, but providing a transformative experience from the sales side can be meaningful for building customer relationships.