Kindness Priming


Can you remember the last business you walked into and how you felt from it the experience?

Now let's switch gears a bit. What is the one business in town you look forward to going into and never leave without a smile?

Why does that business do such a great job in making you happy? A lot of businesses claim to be focused on making you happy and smile, but are they really working towards that end?

  • McDonald's says smiles are free, but I don't feel any different in there or when I leave (I actually haven't visited a McDonald's in years so maybe things have changed)
  • Chipotle has a healthy vibe and culture, but I am still left feeling indifferent when I walk in there.
  • Starbucks is focused on the customer experience, but I am still left with no real feelings toward the brand when I enter or leave

If there's one thing we always want from our customers and clients it's for them to be happy with us and what we do and the idea of being happy is significantly more difficult than the practice of getting people happy.

If you think about the typical consumers day it probably goes something like this:

wake up tired from lack of sleep, get the kids up for school, but they are being little monsters and don't want to cooperate, maybe eat breakfast if time permits, drop kids off, experience a commute with drivers that make them seriously stressed out, show up late for work, get in trouble, get off work, go to the gym (maybe) and do it all in reverse.

Where's the happy life portion of this stressful day and where do these people get to feel like the day was joyful and fun? More often than not people don't get those feelings on a daily basis and that's why they are so powerful.

This is where your business comes into play and why the micro or boutique gym world that I come from is so incredibly powerful in instilling the community concept in people.

Of course there are ways for you to build what I call kindness priming into your business culture. I wrote about culture in a previous post and it should be 100% instilled into your business in every aspect.

But there is another way we can ensure people walk in and immediately smile. That's the concept of kindness priming. To put it simply, priming is where an exposure to one stimulus influences the response to another stimulus.

So if we focus on kindness priming we can instill a sort of continued positive stimuli on our clients. Meaning that with the initial kindness primed a person is more likely to be more receptive to repeated acts of kindness or being positive toward that client. It will also reduce the effects of negative stimuli and create a sort of resistance to it.

Think about it this way: by showcasing your facilities kindness and excitement that your clients are there the second they walk in the door you are pushing the negative stimulus of the day away and effectively priming them to shed the misery and be happy, which will prime them to continue to be happy at your facility and create the construct that your facility is their happy place.

Now how do you actually do this? It's a lot more simple than it seems and what I found to be effective is to have a unique greeting you give your clients every single time they walk in the door. This greeting should be loosely regulated in that your employees can put their own positive spin on it and the greeting should be used in everything from when a person calls, to when they walk in the door.

We keep it simple and say "Welcome to StoneAgeFuel, where the streets are paved with gold" it doesn't matter if it's their first time or 1000th time in our facility.

They get the greeting the second they walk in, when they enter the gym area and then when they leave everyone uses their name and says "bye, we will miss you!"

No one enters or leaves without an excited greeting and now people feel let down if they don't get the greeting. That's how powerful it has become in helping to push toward that positive construct and shedding the negative emotions of the day.

By priming your clients with kindness the second they walk in your door you are also priming them to be happy with each continued interaction in your facility and less likely to respond to any negative stimuli from their stressful day.

This combined with all the interactions with other clients and your staff and you have a recipe for a solid kindness priming strategy.

Now it's your turn. I want you to create a greeting everyone gets when they walk in and something you say when they leave. Try it out and comment on this post letting me know how it went!