The Power of Proximity: 5 Ways to Get Customers Closer

By Rich Obertots

Have you ever met somebody on a plane and learned their hometown was the same as yours? What was your reaction? Ever had a meeting with an individual and you discovered you both had a passion for a similar activity? What kind of a feeling was generated? Ever been at a non Critical Medical Aviation function and your top customer was there too and you both enjoyed this experience? Did this have any impact on your relationship?

Years ago I learned of PROXIMITY EFFECT – the phenomenon that individuals with something in common tend to bond. Ever experienced this; An almost automatic positive reaction when you learn a person shares your birth date. Why? You might be completely opposed in beliefs – yet – when learning another shares something in common – it creates a bond. This applies to the process of creating and sustaining authentic appropriate relationships. Using PROXIMITY EFFECT here are five ways to get customers closer.

1. PHYSICAL PROXIMITY

“I hate you – you’re from Ohio!” Early in my career in the position of EMS/Trauma Coordinator for a regional health system in Northwestern Pennsylvania – these words came from an EMS Agency owner that was a key “customer.” I have always been an intense person – easy to “hate” – but this guy had not even met me to be able to hate me. Although my reaction was to avoid him – it took two years of face-to-face meetings – many filled with hostile comments toward me – “The Ohio guy.” – before he realized my intentions were sincere for “his” “PA” community. We ended up working well together.

Few actions yield as much as getting within close physical proximity to your customers. Humans want to get close to build trust. Especially in conflict – get close! Yes – physical proximity requires an investment. So often we defer to digital when proximal should be the action. It will generate the highest yield (and differentiate you when you devote the effort that few others will.)

2. BELIEF SYSTEM PROXIMITY

Strive to know about the belief systems of your customers. How do they think? What makes sense and is rational to them? What kind of mindset do they have for Critical Medical Aviation? Are they safety minded? Do they strive for clinical innovation and educational excellence? Are they obsessed with metrics? Are they technology-centric? Are they Six Sigma or Malcolm Baldrige Award ® advocates?

Seek to create affinity based on belief systems that you have in common. WORD OF WARNING. Never fake it!

3. PASSION PROXIMITY

Do you have a passion? Why? What cause are you devoted “To the Death?” (Or at least willing to volunteer time.) Why? What really turns you on (legally)? Why? It is vital to know the passions of your customers. The aforementioned questions need to be asked of them. Then – assess those in your organization. Does any of your staff share similar passions? Is your program dedicated to some cause that is “proximate” to causes of your customers?

Imagine the impact if your program aligns itself in shared-passion with customers! No – you cannot devote scarce resources to every cause and customer – but – where there is an alignment of passion – let this proximity generate positive results.

4. PROFESSIONAL PROXIMITY  Get Peer2Peer ™

How many CFRN / CCRNs enjoy a basic airway lecture by a Basic EMT? How many FP-Cs (Certified Flight Paramedics) get enthused when an LPN [with no Critical Medical Aviation experience that addresses the paramedics as “You Ambulance Drivers”] but tries to instruct them on difficult intubations? How many > 4000 hours PIC / ATP /EMS pilots clamor to be “taught” Inadvertent IMC tactics by their program’s Medical Director that just got his fixed-wing private pilot rating?

Human nature – peers desire to be proximal with peers. Peer2Peer ™ alignment is a powerful strategy to get customers close. Seek to create situations where individuals of similar profession and experience can get together. Avoid the disruption that can happen when individuals at different levels of expertise combine. This does not mean to avoid having varied and diverse groups of people meet. But – to maximize the yield of your efforts with customers – best results often come when you target Peer2Peer ™.

5. REMOTE PROXIMITY (SAY WHAT?)

How many thoughtful hand-written thank you notes have you received lately? How many hand-written thank you notes have you sent to customers recently? If you cannot get physically proximal – you can achieve positive imprinting by thanking customers via the U.S. Mail. Is this unique? Will this differentiate you? Do you believe most customers would appreciate this vs. an e.mail or a standardized computer-generated letter?

Don’t use HIPAA as an excuse either. It is easy to customize a correspondence without revealing confidentiality. If you know you cannot get physically to a customer for a while – or as a routine to support your physical proximity – use “remote” means.

Leverage the POWER OF PROXIMITY!

In our new Flight Request Stimulator Video online learning program we delve deeply into how to apply the Peer2Peer TRIAD ™ in many ways. It’s proven to work. To learn more be in touch rich.obertots@thinkthroughtools.com 330.623.5910

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