Driving Desired Customer Behavior: A TED-type Perspective Based on Love


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Creating value, and generating optimized loyalty behavior, have a lot in common with love. Building from the song “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing” (now celebrating its 60th anniversary, having been recorded by Philly group The Four Aces in 1955), perceived value and marketplace behavior are the result of experience(s) which, whether tangible or relationship-based, influence emotion, and leave elements of memory. Memory shapes impression and trust, leading to action. It’s a lot like love, leading to a (hopefully) lasting relationship.

Flash forward to the movie “Moulin Rouge”, where Christian once again quotes the song title, and adds: “Love is like oxygen. All you need is love.” Experience is the oxygen (or the nitrogen) that feeds the array of emotional responses, the most powerful of which stay in the consumer’s memory (as key positives or negatives). From memory comes belief and trust (or rejection), which in turn, leverages loyalty (or disloyalty) behavior.

If this seems in any way a linear process, be assured that it isn’t. The many splendors of driving b2b or b2c customer behavior are complex; but if the components are well understood and incorporated into strategic and tactical initiatives, these insights will help achieve desired marketplace actions. And, just because an enterprise succeeds at reframing and redefining experiences, they should also understand that sustaining perceived value and customer loyalty is quite another matter. Reality, along with ever-changing consumer needs and tastes, dictates that the trust necessary to leverage decision making and behavior is extremely delicate and fragile. Once achieved, it needs to be guarded and protected. Again, like love.

Nowhere is trust more at constant risk than in financial services – banking, insurance, and investments. This stands to reason, since most consumers put great emotional and tangible return/coverage emphasis on protecting their earnings and nest eggs. Because this industry suffered such loss of trust during the recession, the companies that proactively show that they can create value and trust will be strategically differentiated. In TED-type fashion, there are several basic techniques for making this happen in the financial services industry:

1. Minimize irritating inefficiencies. For example, high-tech and virtual approaches may be great for the financial institution, but they often annoy and frustrate customers.

2. Make the experience proactive and personal. Customers want to feel that interactions are personalized, and that their needs are a priority.

3. Practice transparent and frequent communication. A company can’t go too far wrong if it assumes that the customer wants to be kept current on important transactional details (without having to ping the provider); and, at the same time, the customer wants the provider available to answer questions thoroughly and conveniently.

4. Emphasize simplicity. The financial services industry gets a fairly well-deserved rap for making many insurance, investment, and banking transactions and decisions too complex and time-consuming. The rule here should be, as MBNA used to preach (before being acquired by Bank of America): “Think of yourself as the customer.” Customers will always lean toward simplicity because it feels more honest and open

5. Understand your customers. Don’t just find out what satisfies them. Find out what creates and undermines personal advocacy and bonding behavior, identify where experience challenges are, and intelligently use structured and unstructured data to enhance value provision.

Having myself experienced both the positives (http://customerthink.com/bring-your-kids-bring-your-pets-how-metro-bank-u-k-and-republic-bank-u-s-win-hearts-and-minds-of-customers-and-their-families-and-friends/) and negatives (http://customerthink.com/the-bofa-mortgage-service-experience-how-not-to-deliver-customer-value/) associated with retail banking, my TED perspective is that, like love, building value and behavior in this arena are many-splendored things. All financial services companies really need is love.

Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC
Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC, specializes in customer and employee experience research/strategy consulting, and brand, customer, and employee commitment and advocacy behavior research, consulting, and training. He has authored seven stakeholder-centric strategy books and 400+ articles, white papers and blogs. In 2018, he was named to CustomerThink's Hall of Fame.


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