Lessons from the Milgram Experiment


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These videos are both fascinating and horrifying and have some salutary lessons for improving the Customer Experience. The Milgram experiment was an infamous experiment that took place in Yale University, USA, in 1961. The videos below were dramatised for for British TV. The purpose of the experiment is to show how people will adhere authority, follow orders and give a lethal electric shock to a person despite being able to hear their excruciating screams.

What has this got to do with the Customer Experience?

We know the subconscious experience is very powerful in a Customer Experience. When you watch these video’s look at the body language of the subjects and listen to what and how the professor directs the participants. The ‘Professor’ in this case is wearing a white coat and looks very ‘official’. The subconscious signals are clearly communictaing authority. Being called a professor and having a ‘Doctors’ white coat with a name badge are just a couple of many of the signals being sent and received that reinforces to people that they should obey the ‘professor’. The way the ‘professor acts, the tone of voice, the words he uses are all subconscious signals of authority.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

From a leadership perspective, you need to consider how you act, behave and are perceived.

Are you putting up barriers so you don’t hear the real situation? Witness the recent banking crisis. Only today a report on the radio stated one of the problems was there were not enough whistle blowers; people who were prepared to say the actions of the banks were wrong and unsustainable. If you are a leader are you sending out subconscious signals to your employees so they don’t tell you want they really think? If you are an employee do you have the courage of your convictions to tell the truth.

A few challenges for you to mull over….

  • What are the subconscious signals you are giving to your Customers?
  • What could you do to provide a great Customer Experience?
  • Are you really listening you the people that know what is going on?
  • Are you speaking out about what is right and wrong with your Customer Experience or just following the herd?

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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