What’s Important? Touchpoints, Experiences or Attitudes?

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Sampson Lee has an interesting post on love and hate drivers. Sampson’s post reinforces why you need to know what is important to customers, when developing effective touchpoints & experiences. Love and hate drivers are similar to prior research on satisfiers and dis-satisfiers in customer service. The dis-satisfiers are just as, if not more important than the satisfiers, due to the much larger impact that e.g. loss aversion, has on customer bahaviour. The same applies to love and hate drivers.

Once you know this information, the big challenge is in translating this into meaningful experiences from the customer’s perspective, rather than on optimising individual touchpoints for their own sake.

Most of the research on experience evaluation, (and prior research on customer satisfaction and service quality evaluation), suggests that customers evaluate whole experiences or related episodes in experiences, rather than individial touchpoints. The evaluation is generally carried out non-consciously. We feel the experience but we don’t think much about it.



The exception is where an individual touchpoint is out of the ordinary, particularly if it is a disaster, when the touchpoint easily overwhelms the rest of the experience. Not only do we feel strongly about the touchpoint, but we think about it intensely and may even be driven to do something about it. We all have memories of disastrous touchpoints which linger with us for years. Along with all of the feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations we experienced all those years ago. My own BMW customer service disaster will remain with me forever. Sometimes we hardly remember the rest of the experience at all!

The importance of the whole experience versus the individual touchpoints is made more complicated by the smoothing effects of time. Prior research on customer satisfaction and service quality suggests that customers adjust their perceptions of an experience through a process of Bayesian updating. Each repetition of the experience updates the customer’s expectations of what future experiences will be like. If the experience is consistently good, the customer’s expectations will become fixed into a positive attitude, sufficient for them to ignore little problems that occur during future experiences. Or to find excuses for why something went wrong. Expectations will become experienced reality.

The challenge is to incorporate this understanding of customer perception into practical experience design. The experience must be designed as an optimised whole as it will be evaluated by the customer, rather than as a series of sub-optimised touchpoints that will be largely ignored. Each touchpoint must contribute to the overall experience, so that the trend, emotional high point and ending support the customer’s overall evaluation of the experience. And the experience must be designed to be consistent over time, to help the customer develop a positive attitude towards it. Once you have done this, you can concentrate on occasionally delighting the customer and on recovering them should disasters happen.

What do you think? Do we know enough about customers to design meaningful experiences? Or do we know so much that we forget the customer entirely?



Post a response and get the conversation going.

Graham Hill

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