… and your organisation can do something about it
When customers make a decision – whether that’s to buy a product, renew a contract or recommend an organisation – all the remembered impressions they have of the brand take play. This could be everything from that last visit where the shop assistant was really helpful, to that bit in the newspaper about the organisation not paying corporation tax, a great ad campaign, or customer support being particularly hard to get hold of. The memory is coloured by the emotions experienced through all touchpoints that customers were exposed to.
In the customer experience industry there has been a quiet debate around whether companies should focus on “delighting” customers or “fixing the basics”. Overall, the latter has dominated because:
a) it is easier to fix a problem rather than come up with a new way of doing things
b) easy and effortless has become the new norm set by digitalisation and
c) complaints are louder than praise and tend to draw the organisation’s attention. This often leaves companies competing on the same issues and lacking differentiation, but it IS necessary.
Your customers overall are benevolent
A 2015 cross-industry study ORC International conducted among 1,000 customers found that when asked to recall an experience with a brand, customers tended to focus on the positive experience when given a choice.
This may sound like good news – after all, as long as there are enough highs, the memory of those will outshine the negatives. However, that’s not quite so.
While people tend to recall positive experiences more easily, when remembering a negative experience, they overestimate the intensity of the negative emotions. So a negative experience is seen as more painful than a positive experience is pleasurable.
As a result, the analysis shows that the likelihood to recommend a company is affected more severely after a negative emotional experience than it is improved after a positive experience. In fact, with social media, it’s likely that the bad experience will be shared, empathised and remembered by others as well.
What to do about it
The study confirms that organisations need to focus on eliminating pain points in the customer experience. This means using continuous feedback to prevent negative experiences and meet expectations. To identify the pain points, most organisations will conduct Customer Journey Mapping for a more strategic view, or use their Voice of the Customer Programs for a more tactical view. In order to quickly action feedback, many organisations use alarm systems that allow them to get in touch with customers as soon as they receive a complaint or expression of dissatisfaction. And when it comes to managing or eliminating negative experiences, organisations need to educate operations and particularly front line staff on the thresholds of service level they must not deliver below. Threshold analysis is one of the tools that helps achieve that.
So forget positive emotions?
Not at all. True differentiation is not about doing the things that others do only better. It’s about doing things differently. This is where “delight” comes in. And delight is not about adding care and nice to haves to the relationship. It’s the actions that meet customers’ objectives at different stages of the experience – typically associated with positive emotions, ranging from relief, comfort, surprise, care etc. However the main point here is that they relate to customers’ objectives and deliver the brand promise, and the only way to understand customer objectives is to collect their feedback in a way that allows you to truly understand their psychology and needs. But that’s a separate blog.
Kalina recently discussed technology’s impact on customer insight – and whether it’s making or breaking it – at our 15th Annual Customer Experience Conference. See our highlights video of the conference here…