I placed my items on the belt at the supermarket. The clerk scanned and bagged them. The amount was displayed on the screen. I handed over my credit card and smiled. I, then, realized that no one had said anything!
The clerk swiped my card. I signed. And just as I was leaving, I said to her, “It would have been nice if you had said, ‘Thank you.'”
She replied, “I don’t need to. It is written on the receipt.”
Ever since that day, I have been on a campaign to see the number of customer experiences I can have without people saying a word. It is surprising how many there can be.
‘Ever since that day, I have been on a campaign to see the number of customer experiences I can have without people saying a word.’
Unfortunately, many organizations think their job is to process customers. But at Beyond Philosophy, we believe all organizations are on a journey from Naïve to Natural, in the way they are orientated around the customer.
Sixty-seven percent of organizations are transactional; they treat customers as a transaction, something to be processed. They are looking only at what we would call the physical, or the rational, aspects of the customer experience. They do not appreciate that 50 percent of a customer experience is about how a customer feels. But in researching my book, The DNA of Customer Experience: How Emotions Drive Value, with the London Business School, we proved that emotions drive or destroy value.
When the clerk failed to thank me, I felt “irritated”; I felt that the organization didn’t “value” me. As a consequence, even though the store is actually closer to my home, I now drive past it to shop three miles away. This store that’s farther away makes me feel “valued,” and I feel the people there “care” for me. In other words, they emotionally engage with me.
Our research suggests that there are four “clusters” of emotions that affect value. Two clusters of emotions, “happy” and “pleased,” lead people to become advocates—not just recommending a business or product but also doing so without being prompted to.
To design an experience that is emotionally engaging to create advocates, you need to map the journey. While many methodologies, including Six Sigma and Lean CRM, are good at redesigning a process; their aim is operational efficiency. Any improvement to the customer experience may be only a byproduct. They focus on the physical and rational aspects of the experience and do not look at the emotional side. This means they effectively are ignoring half of the experience.
A process we developed, called Moment Mapping®, enables you to design an emotionally engaging customer experience. We identify the combustion points that drive the destroying cluster of emotions and embed “emotional cookies” that will evoke the desired emotions that create customer advocates.
Consider what happened with a U.S. bank that asked us to redesign its branch loan experience. When we mapped the “as is” experience of customers, we found different customer types, including these three:
- Principal’s office. These younger people were nervous about asking for a loan. One described the experience as feeling “like I was going to see the principal, and I had done something wrong.” These customers tried to do as much as they could online. But to secure a loan, they had to submit to an interview and sign papers.
- Dignity. These older people just felt embarrassed. They had been brought up with the belief that you shouldn’t borrow money and “pay your way.”
- Sophisticates. These experienced loan buyers were very knowledgeable. They entered the experience feeling confident and assured, and they wanted to complete this as quickly as possible.
When we mapped the “as is” experience; the customer would be invited to the branch and asked to sit in a waiting area that was open and in full view of all customers. This was a major “combustion point,” which, we discovered, had had a different emotional effect on each group.
For those in the “principal’s office” group, Waiting just confirmed that those in the “principal’s office” group were going to see the principal! Our hidden cameras revealed them fidgeting and sitting on the edge of their chairs. The longer they were kept waiting, the more intense was their feeling of inferiority and the greater their concern.
Sitting in a waiting area in full view of everyone contributed to the discomfort of those in the “dignity” group. They tended to sit with their backs to the other customers and “hide” as much as possible. In one of the branches, “dignity” customers preferred sitting behind a large plant!
The “sophisticates” who thought the whole process was a waste of time found waiting very frustrating. We could have called this group “the prowlers.” About 65 percent of them didn’t sit. They prowled around, waiting to be called in, so they could leave and get on with something more productive.
We recommended that the bank alter the experience for each of these groups and design-in these “emotional cookies.” There were some common aspects that would help all these particular groups in different ways. For example, people in all these groups wanted to be seen quickly, although it was for different reasons. So the bank implemented a more efficient appointment system. We also trained all the branch staff on the characteristics of the groups and explained how to identify them.
We proposed that “principal’s office” customers be put at ease by branch employees who were not sitting behind desks. We also ensured that the employees spend time making small talk with these customers, explaining what was going to happen.
For those in the “dignity” group, we allocated a longer period of time for their “confession” of why they needed the money. Our research showed that, when they did this, they would feel that a burden had been lifted. We also moved the waiting areas into a more secluded place to help customers in this group.
For the “sophisticates,” we speeded up the process. We also enhanced the background checks to ensure they were not bad payers. We made sure that no time was wasted on settling them down at the beginning of the interview. It was very businesslike and efficient, to make sophisticated customers happy.
As a result of the changes, loan conversions increased by 17 percent, and referral and loyalty increased.
By looking at customer experience from an emotional point of view and designing these emotions into your customers’ experience, you can have a dramatic effect on revenue and customer advocacy.