Today I am happy to present to you a guest blogger, Colin Shaw. Colin is founder of Beyond Philosophy, a consultancy, research, and training company recognized as thought leaders in the Customer Experience. They are located in London, England and Atlanta, GA, USA. Colin is an international best selling author and widely acclaimed public speaker. Colin also writes a blog called Experience Clinic, which can be found at his company’s website www.beyondphilosophy.com. I spoke to Colin over the summer while he was traveling in the States, and I think you will find his post thought-provoking. Let us know what you think!
The DNA of Customer Experience
“We can’t do that…”…. ”you’ll have to go over there….” ” you’ll have to phone a different department”
We have all heard these phrases in too many Customer Experiences. I am sure, like you, it makes my blood boil! But when I say “it makes my blood boil” what am I really expressing? I am referring to how I feel; my emotions. Just read the many postings in this blog and you sense the emotions the writers are feeling. Having dealt in the subject of the Customer Experience for the last 10 years it never ceases to amaze me that organizations fail to realise that over 50% of a Customer Experience is about emotions.
So let me ask you one of my favourite questions we pose to organizations every day of the week. “What is the customer experience you are trying to deliver”? Most organizations can not answer that question in a consistent manner. In addition, as emotions account for over 50% of an experience, here is a follow on question, “What are the emotions you are trying to evoke in your Customers”?
Again, most organizations can not answer this simple question and as such I believe they are not in control of their experience. The challenge becomes ‘as there is such an array of emotions which should an organization choose? Which emotions drive and destroy value?’
Following 2 years of research with London Business School, one of the worlds leading business schools, we have discovered there are four clusters of emotions that drive or destroy value. These are further outlined in our latest book The DNA of Customer Experience: How Emotions Drive Value.
The Destroying Cluster
This is the first area an organization needs to focus on. These emotions are evoked in Customers typically because their experience is “inside out”. This means the organization looks at what is good for them and imposes that experience on the customer. Our belief is organizations should be “outside in” looking at what the customer wants and deliberately trying to evoke positive emotions.
It’s impossible to eradicate destroying emotions entirely, but wise organizations take steps to mitigate them. It’s important to recognize that this cluster not only destroys value, but taxes resources and imposes other costs on an organization. Suppose, for example, delivery of a complex IT system is poorly coordinated and a few items are missing. In addition to feelings of frustration, this misstep wastes the valuable time and money of the personnel involved with installation.
The Attention Cluster
The Attention Cluster contains emotions used by organizations to attract customers. Our research has shown that these emotions encourage customers to explore your offers and experience, and boost customers’ short-term spend.
However, this cluster contains an inherent danger. Once they have attracted a customer, can they retain them? We’ve discovered that what attracts a customer in the first place may not turn them into long-term customers. As a simple example, imagine a theme park. Your first visit is likely to be interesting, stimulating and energetic — all characteristics of the attention cluster. But what happens after your tenth visit? The “interesting or stimulated” emotions fade. The experience becomes bland. To retain customers you need to evoke the Recommendation Cluster.
The Recommendation Cluster
Here is where you really begin to build loyalty. The Recommendation Cluster includes basic human emotions like valued, cared for and trusted. Consider the last time you felt someone “valued” you; at home or at work. Why did you feel valued? What did the person do? They spent time with you, they understood you. They listened to you. It was personalised. Now flip this to your own Customer Experience, what could you do that included these traits and thus evoked valued in your experience.
The Advocacy Cluster
The Advocacy cluster is at the top of the pyramid, and contains only two emotions, reflecting their statistical importance. Happiness is a primary goal for everyone. People want to be happy, thus we seek out experiences which please us. Obviously, organizations should strive to make their customers happy. Happy customers become advocates, proactively telling people about your organization without prompting, and are among the most loyal. Word of mouth, after all, is the best form of marketing.
A Company’s Emotional Signature®
We also discovered all organizations have an Emotional Signature®. This is the level of emotional engagement an organizations have with its customers.
In our experience most organizations measure only the physical/rational aspects of the Customer Experience — price, product availability, range and so on. They ignore the other 50% of an experience; customer’s emotions.
In understanding the level of emotional engagement you can then determine what you need to do to change. I always liken this to a sound system graphic equalizer; your company’s Emotional Signature can be altered to produce a better sound, a better experience. Because they are not consciously and deliberately thought-out in advance, most experiences are “out of tune”. All organizations unwittingly evoke unintentional emotions.
For example, customers become frustrated when their actions trigger the wrong behaviours, and organizations should take action to reverse this. To persuade your customers to feel you “care for” them — a powerful differentiator — you may need to change your recruitment process and hire people who are naturally caring. It’s important to understand the level of emotional engagement to be able to take action to improve it.