A Massive Effect On Decision-Making is the Mood You Are In, Here’s Why A Master Class: Unlocking The Psychology of Customer Experience

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How you feel in a moment, or your overall mood significantly influences decision-making. Today, we dig into moods and motivational biases that influence experience outcomes.

More than one thing happens in a customer experience, from individual heuristics (i.e., shortcuts in our thinking) to biases or other psychological concepts. Unfortunately, many customer experience managers focus only one thing at a time, ignoring all the rest.  However, a more holistic view helps you design an experience to achieve the desired results.

Our past research discovered the twenty emotions that drive and destroy value. Only a few organizations get this yet, but there are certainly more than there used to be. Here are the 20, as we determined through our work with the London Business School nearly two decades ago.

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Figure 1 The 20 Emotions That Drive or Destroy Value

I have covered individual emotions before, so I won’t get into the details here. However, this graphic demonstrates that being specific about customer emotions is essential. In your goals for customer emotions, you must narrow to a particular emotion you want to evoke or manage. Thinking about customer emotions as “positive” or “negative” isn’t enough.

A key question is: Which emotions drive the most value for you? If you don’t know the answer, then find out. Customer research will help you answer that question. You need to know what emotions are to understand the role of emotions in customer behavior and customer experience.

What is The Role of Emotion in Decision-Making And Consumer Behavior? 

A couple of theories can help us answer this question. First, there is the Affect Heuristic. This decision shortcut occurs when people make a choice intuitively.

People using this heuristic are influenced by design, delight, surprise, comfort, and ease. These features, feelings, and experiences make people like particular experiences more than others.

Another way to think of it is that when people decide on something using the Affect Heuristic, they just like it. It makes them feel good, so they choose it.

The second major theory is mood management theory. The idea here is that many decisions are not based on rational evaluations; instead, they are motivated by trying to maintain a good mood or fix a bad mood.

Consider the decisions you make during the day. There are consumer decisions, sure, but also times when we decide to procrastinate on something we know we should be working on but don’t want to do, which would put us in a bad mood.  There are also times when we eat to feel better, particularly food we probably shouldn’t have.

As you can see, decisions that we make are geared towards mood management, towards an emotion that we want to get rid of or that we want to obtain. So, can you understand your customer’s behavior from that mood management perspective?

Sometimes our need to procrastinate for mood management outweighs our sensibilities, and this outcome can have serious consequences. For example, research shows that many of us put off buying life insurance because we have to consider our deaths as part of that.  Many people who need it and should buy life insurance don’t because of this part of the experience.

This act of procrastination isn’t a big deal unless you die and your loved ones don’t have the life insurance they need because you thought shopping for life insurance was a real downer.

Context is Key

Suppose you were getting ready to discuss investing. Do you think your mood would affect your financial decisions, particularly regarding taking risks?

Consider if you were in a good mood. Would that make you more likely to take risks or less likely? What about a bad mood?

My gut says that you would take more risks when you were in a good mood and fewer when you were in a bad mood. Unfortunately, there isn’t a solid evidence-based answer since the research on mood and risk-taking has mixed conclusions. In other words, it depends; sometimes, a good mood leads to more risk-taking and sometimes less, and vice versa.

However, the context is the point. These moods affect your behavior, even if we can’t predict with certainty exactly how in a given situation.

Here is another example of context. I am a proud Englishman. We British tend to look at the world as if the glass is half empty or pessimistically. By contrast, Americans tend to look at the world as half-full, or optimistically. Maybe that’s because America is a land of opportunity.

Factors like culture interact with mood and emotion. Some cultures are predisposed to certain mood states or value specific emotions more. For example, Scandinavian countries are stoic in their moods and value not showing strong emotions. By contrast, Latin America and the southern part of Europe are more expressive and value the power of strong emotions.

Another factor that interacts with mood and emotion is age. People at different life stages have different moods, emotional goals, or needs.

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Context is an essential part of why customers do what they do. With that many influences on the mood context, it is clear that many essential considerations must be made when anticipating how much mood will matter and in what ways.

The Power of Positive Thinking

I went to a Tony Robbins weekend once. We started by walking over a bed of hot coals in bare feet. Since then, I have been trying to determine how he got me to do that. Those coals are bloody hot and I don’t want to walk over them with my shoes on, let alone barefooted.

However, one of the many things that came out of that weekend was the power of positive thinking. Robbin’s point about the hot coals was that if you believe you can do it, then you know you can, and then you do it. It is a self-empowerment exercise.

Positive thinking affects how we see the world (and the possibility of losing the skin off the soles of one’s feet to hot coals). There is much benefit to looking at things positively when we can. Our perceptions affect how we respond to reality. If you can interpret things in a way that makes you feel better or gives you hope, that’s good.

However, there are limits. While positive thinking can affect how we respond to the outside world, we cannot affect the outside world with it. In other words, positive thinking cannot manifest things in the universe to come to you. We can think positively and safely cross a few feet of hot coals, but no amount of positive thinking will get you safely across a bed of hot lava. Nor will positive thinking on its own make your business successful.

That said, positive thinking can help you run your business successfully. Internalizing the positive makes it easier to face the negative realities of business today, like the looming recession, shortage of talented workers, or the shockingly high average failure rate of small businesses. Moreover, positive thinking enhances one’s tenacity, a required ingredient for being one of the few small businesses that survive.

To summarize, leveraging the power of positive thinking is an internal tool that provides motivation and pride about what you accomplish. While it is a powerful tool, it can’t do everything. Positive thinking won’t fix a terrible product or a bad business model.

So, What Should You Do About Mood’s Effect on Decisions?

Our mood greatly influences our decisions. So, what does that mean for you, and what should you do? This discussion has several different takeaways.

First, remember emotions. Also, try to be diagnostic about them. In other words, what are the customer emotions, and how are customers using them? Determine which emotions your customers feel and how they’re influencing their mood. Additionally, look at their behavior and determine how they use their feelings. What is their motivation? Are they using emotions to simplify their decisions, maintain their mood, or feel better or less bad about things?

Also, take into account the power of moods. Whether you’re in a good or bad mood affects how you behave. Moreover, understanding your customers’ moods at any point in their journey is essential to building a great customer experience for them. Remember, converting them from a bad to a good mood or capitalizing on a good mood again is good.

Converting them from a good mood to a bad mood is not.

Colin has spoken at hundreds of conferences, including some of the world’s largest brands. Talk to Colin about how he can speak ‘in person’ or ‘virtually’ at your conference. Click here.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.

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