To create customer loyalty, form emotional connections

Greg Lappin | May 18, 2020

How do you create customer loyalty for your business? It’s all about “emotional” (or “relational”) connectedness. 


Read “Human Sigma” by John H. Fleming or works by Patrick Lencioni, who both state that buying decisions that are rational are not enough to keep a customer. What ultimately determines the future behavior of a customer is the strength of the emotional connection.


For everyone in the tennis industry, that’s great news! 

Tennis inherently possesses many elements that build a strong emotional connection. Whether a match is a fun, social game or a fierce competitive battle, social interaction is occurring. During a youth lesson, parents interact while watching their children, who are also building relationships. Business contacts are made on the court; players are having fun; they realize a sense of accomplishment; they form new friendships; players improve their fitness—the list of positives the sport can bring goes on and on.


Our tennis professionals and facilities have developed many great activities to reinforce a positive sense of well-being and a strong emotional bond to their programs, teams and leagues. But with shutdowns, social distancing and new rules in place to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone in our industry must innovate and pivot.


As a tennis provider, build a plan in which you will develop stronger emotional ties to your customers than you had previously. For example:


  • Be ready to become “no touch.” If you haven’t yet taken the leap to an online court reservation system, do it now. It will give your customers a sense of security and that you’re looking out for their health and safety.
  • Make sure you communicate with your members and customers clearly and often. 
  • Create a bond by doing a “virtual academy”—give your customers exercise and tennis routines that they can do at home. Maybe create a mental toughness training program you can offer through Zoom.
  • Improve yourself and your customer service through webinars. The USTA, USPTA, PTR are offering free courses.
  • Network. Develop new ideas and ways of doing things by communicating with your peers. 
  • Develop clear action items designed to build back emotional bonds with your members and customers when you reopen.
  • Provide world-class service upon reopening. For instance, reinforce or develop a definition of hospitality; make rebuilding emotional connections a priority; and train all staff for excellent verbal and nonverbal communication skills.


Research has shown that the average business in the U.S. has on average only 18 percent of customers described as “passionate.” That’s a terrible statistic. For your tennis business, be ready at reopening to have an emotional connection with customers that will speak to their heart.




Greg Lappin is a developer, general manager and minority owner of some of the largest tennis and multipurpose athletic clubs in North America.


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