Transaction or Transformation?
I’m helping one of my clients evolve how they reach and interact with customers. Most folks call this brand-marketing, but there’s more to it in this case.
We’re working together to overhaul how they communicate with customers, how they onboard them for their services, and how they support them through their journey and care for them as long-term customers.
We’re calling this program close-in people engagement.
A transaction is defined as when we carry out business (negotiations, purchases, exchanges, etc.) with some conclusion or settlement. It’s when brands do this, and customers get that.
The shelf life for transactions is only as long as the transaction takes place. A day, a moment, a microsecond web click.
Transformation, on the other hand, is defined as significant or change in form or appearance. It’s when this changes into that.
The shelf-life for transformation lasts as long as the customer remains loyal. In the situation noted above, the average is roughly 7.5 years. Yes, we’re measuring this.
We seem to have a limiting lens on what commerce can actually do and what it’s really for in much of business. Most commonly, business is viewed as a series of transactional events. Give and take. Pay and get.
The reality is that the continuum of sales, marketing, and customer loyalty is less about priming to pistons of transactions and much more about empowering behavior change that all parties realize.
As entrepreneurs and business leaders, we’re in the transformation business. I talked about this in my TEDx talk called The Beautiful Business.
If we’re doing a beyond-the-ordinary job, we’re not simply convincing people to part with their hard-earned money in exchange for goods and services. We’re enabling them to make improvements in their life-position, their work, their family, or their quality of lives.
Our deepest role as leaders and entrepreneurs is to help customers take steps towards the change they’re seeking or dreaming—even if it’s beyond what they’ve envisioned. Brands with generosity at heart enable transformation.
These brands ask and answer questions like…
- What meaningful change is your customer desiring?
- What next-level of life does she want to realize?
- Who does she want to be when she arrives in this transformed state?
Brands have this choice when engaging with and serving customers. As a brand, you can either look to make transactions with your customers—take their money in exchange for your goods or services—or create transformations with your customers. It’s really two very different kinds of relationships. Any guess on which is closer-in?
Leaders, too, have the choice to be either transactional leaders, which is top-down or command-and-control leadership. This creates disengaged, disintegrated, fear-based, and siloed cultures.
Or they can choose to be transformational leaders, which is a people-first, inside-out leadership approach. Its leaders lead with empathy, generosity, and humanity. Cultures with this type of leadership cultivate belonging, experience integrity, and create magnetism for employee prospects and customers alike.
Cultures like these take various names and have been described as team-first cultures (Zappos), virtuous cultures (Patagonia), integrated cultures (Netflix), or brand-fusion cultures (Amazon), popularized by my friend and best-selling author Denise Lee Yohn.
When we employ transformational engagement—either through the customer journey or within our culture—we tap the intrinsic motivations of people, so they are moved, inspired, and self-motivated to do more of what motivates them are part of the organization.
Transformation in business, what I argue in my upcoming book The Beautiful business, literally transforms people from one state of experience to another, better one.
Which do you think your customers are more likely to remember and want more of?
Which do you believe employees would rather willingly contribute their best to?
Steve can help you create an integrated belief-driven business that can reach and align with more of the right people —employees, customers, donors and investors—in a sustainable and meaningful way.