Sep 30, 2019 2:36:41 PM
Customer experience is a hot topic across industries, and for a good reason: it has been proven to contribute massively to your bottom line. According to a Forrester study in 2015, “clients who had a good experience, invested 4,5 times more than those who said they had a poor experience”. A study by SAP in 2018 also found out that the key to satisfied customers is as simple as "creating a positive experience" for them.
Yet, companies across industries are struggling to nail the customer experience. So why is it so hard?
According to Forrester, a customer experience consists of three core components, or three “Es":
How did it make you feel? (Emotion)
The first two aspects are well documented across literature. You can start improving ease & effectiveness by looking at what service channels is you are active on, and how are those channels being used. Is convenience a priority, can customers self-serve? What channels can customers use for service, and is the process frictionless? Does the customer need to repeat themselves? Is the customer required to “channel-hop”, or can their request be resolved in one single contact, in-channel?
The last part of the equation - emotion - requires the most work to get it right. At a first glance, emotions seem fickle and intangible, something the business has no control over. Fortunately, this is not true! Emotions are actually quite predictable, but follow a different set of rules than so called “rational thought”. It is the hardest one of the three to quantify: measuring the effectiveness or ease of a service is much simpler, than how the process makes us feel.
Human emotions come down to four simple rules, or "building blocks". To improve your overall customer experience, take these rules into consideration.
Emotions embed memories - especially bad ones. A negative experience will hurt the experience more than the positive one can help. Humans are hardwired to have a strong response to danger and those experiences stay with us longer. We have a much shallower and shorter recollection of pleasurable experiences, but the pain of negative ones can stay with us for a lifetime. This also explains why we are so keen to tell everyone about a bad experience we’ve had with a brand, but rarely share the positive ones with the same enthusiasm. To quote Forrester:
In short: don’t focus on delighting your customers, but avoid at all costs disappointments and a bad overall experience.
We're driven by emotions: when we experience something emotionally important, we become particularly alert. Our brain enters a problem solving-mode: eyes take in more detail from a narrower scope, hearing tunes out any background noise. This fixed focus can cause us to miss important information or skip instructions. We're also more susceptible to cognitive bias: we pay attention to things that confirm our preexisting beliefs, be they good or bad. That means, that if an experience has already taken a downturn, we might not see the feature or setting that would resolve our whole issue in a few seconds.
In short: consider how your services and customer experience feels to a stressed out person.
Do you remember every single aspect of a customer experience you had a week ago? Of course not - people don’t actually remember that many details, because they are not that relevant to us. What matters to us is the overall memory of the experience, which in turn is made of two points in time during the experience - and their combined average:
This means that while ease & effectiveness are top requirements for a great customer experience, emotions at these two points will define how the event is perceived. Your customers will forgive you the 5-minute hold time if the first agent does a particularly stellar job - compared to a 2-min hold time, but where the interaction ends on a bad note.
In short: Focus your efforts in these two moments. Even an otherwise perfectly smooth experience can be turned into a negative memory, if a pain point is present at the end of the interaction.
Much of our emotions happen at a subconscious level. The way we observe other people and their expressions and body language ultimately impacts how we perceive them - and ultimately, how we feel about them.
In short: ask your customers about their experience with you, and help them express what they can’t put into words. This might mean changing your research methods - such as a technique called metaphor elicitation, or just introducing new elements to your existing research.
Companies work tirelessly to improve the experience of their customers. Too often, the focus is put on the functional aspects of ease & effectiveness, and less on emotion. In this blog post we've explained that emotions are the most important element in the equation of customer experience. Contrary to popular belief, emotions are rather predictable, if you understand their core elements. To follow, smart businesses should put emotions back on their radar, map them accurately and educate others in the company to see the value of not just caring about data, but the real feelings behind the data.
Sara is a brand & content strategist at Solvemate. She’s really into chatbots, and improving customer experience. When she’s not writing about customer service automation, she’s an Italo-disco singer and a devoted housekeeping nerd. Hailing originally from snowy Finland, the Berlin winters leave her cold (pardon the pun).