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Are People Who Hug Customers Worth More?

My friend Paul Hebert has a nice post up related to people who are huggers potentially being worth more to companies than their counterparts who are... well, let's just say...frostier....

Paul's post covers some work done by Grant McCracken, the Chief Culture Officer (great blog, subscribe now!), who takes the position that once we find a workplace hugger the community appreciates, we should Hug it out figure out how to compensate him or her for that.  The premise is that a warm engaging character in the workplace, especially in a position of customer contact, is worth more than someone who refuses to....

...hug it out....

What about you?  You think that we should automatically pay the warm embracers more for the value they create to a customer contact business (think a 7/11, a grocery store, etc.)?

Me?  I fall on the side of Paul with this one.  While everyone loves to see the interaction that type of person has with a customer base, I'm not ready to automatically say that the person who knows everyone's name, family situation and tolerance for hugs is automatically more valuable.

Some thoughts as to why this isn't as cut and dry as it might appear:

-The value of the person who hugs isn't tied just to the hugs.  It's tied to the emotional connection they create with the customer, who theoretically is more likely to stay loyal to the business with the hugger in question. So far, so good.

-The problem with saying we should automatically compensate huggers is that they don't always use the emotional connection they create to add more value.  Huggers don't automatically try to upsell customers and create more revenue.  Sometimes they just hug.  That's fine, but it doens't always equal more revenue per store/location.

-At times, huggers can actually create emotional bonds with customers that are negative to the business in question.  Did you recently raise prices on some items to increase the profitability of your business?  The hugger is more likely to empathize with the customer, and even share the reality behind the price increase.  Not good for business.  Think Stockholm Syndrome...

-Some folks just want a mindless transaction.  I'll call this one the pleasantness threshold.  Most people desire a certain amount of pleasantness, but many don't want it to be overboard.  Some folks will shy away from a business with the hugger persona, especially on the low end of the business transaction scale.

Just some thoughts on hugging.  It's the Christmas season, right?  No better time to pitch against hugs.  LOL.



Interesting take on "hugging!" I have a different view. I believe that having compassion for clients/customers (hugging) is a requirement to success these days, but not sufficient. I say that because unless you are in an entirely commodity business, simply providing best price, reasonable quality and on time delivery will not build loyal customers/clients.

For many professional salespeople, the key to success is trust. Trust means that you (the salesperson) have my best interest at heart. I want you to be willing to hug me - metaphorically since we all know that actually physically hugging clients can be precisely the wrong thing to do to build rapport and trust.

Why that (having my best interest at heart) in and of itself is not sufficient is because I also get that you have to "take care of yourself" as well. So you will not continuously serve me at the expense of your company. I wouldn't want you to do so.

To my way of thinking, "hugging" a client or customer while making sure that my company also thrives is exactly what a high value professional salesperson does.

This philosophy is perhaps best expressed by Patric Lencioni in his book "Getting Naked." My advice is not to use the title in the same sentence with "hugging clients!"

Dave Kinnear


I would take money AWAY from huggers if I could. I was extremely relieved recently when a gentleman who worked on one of our accounts quit because he always hugged me when we met and I HATED it. I'll hug my mom and my kids, thanks very much. I don't want to hug someone that I have a business relationship with; no matter how much I like or trust them.


I want a 10% discount for hugging back.


"…think a 7/11, a grocery store, etc"
This is why I want to build a monument to the team that developed U Scan machines.

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