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Can we truly be ‘unfiltered’ in the way we judge the moments we experience and the memories we commit to our minds?

10 people may go through a similar experience. 6 may be relatively satisfied, 2 may give a raving review, and yet another 2 may make scathing remarks. Could the ‘filters’ that we unknowingly don be the culprits behind this phenomenon?

Reading reviews on hotels.com often leaves me feeling more confused, with conflicting reviews on the hotel staff service and attitude, cleanliness, environment, etc. There have even been instances where the same named staff may be labelled as attentive and polite by one reviewer, and rude by another.

Why is this so? An outlier experience? A different perspective which adds a ‘filter’ on what the individual sees? Some examples of ‘customer experience filters’ may include a past encounter which caused a prejudice to be formed, cultural backgrounds, personality types, emotional states at the time of encounter, stage in the customer journey, etc.

In the age of disruption today, a newly emerged filter is the cross-category experience. As Richard Korn (Executive Director of Customer Experience, Ipsos in Hong Kong) puts it, “At Ipsos, we talk about ‘liquid expectations’, meaning that when a customer has a seamless experience with one company, for example, Uber, they then expect the same ease and seamlessness when engaging with other companies such as their bank or utilities provider.”

The somber mood and fears plaguing everyone with the spread of COVID-19, forms yet another filter on customer judgments of brands, right from the sensitivity of advertisements, to communications about the hygiene measures put in place, to any changes in the actual product or service delivery. Seemingly aware of this, Redmart started to include this printout (pictured below) shortly after the news broke of cases in Singapore.

While reflecting on this concept of customer experience filters, I too, became aware of my own: A retail outlet which historically had higher prices, has been carrying out competitive price matching for more than a year. However, as the filter of my past experience remained -and as I was unaware of the change – I had not bothered to even check out prices for the whole year. Instead, I continued to be wary of paying more for the same item if I were to shop there.

For this reason, in the field of market research, and more recently, operational data analytics, businesses focus on making sense of these filters, in the form of customer segmentation and user personas.

Organisations are often less enlightened that likewise, their frontline employees bring filters with them into their interactions with customers. When left to process and carry on with the filters on their own, that is when problems arise. Companies such as Disney that are able to unify employees with a common filter (e.g. a common customer vision, common language such as ‘cast’, ‘guests’), inevitably see a greater consistency in the service being delivered.

What are the filters through which your customer segments and employees interpret your experience today?

Joan Yong
Joan Yong is a seasoned customer experience professional and co-author of the foundational customer experience book, “From Oblivious to Obsessed: Eight Obsessions Every Organisation Must Embrace To Build Customer Loyalty In Asia”. She has a demonstrated track record in management consulting, market research, and experience design across industries, including retail, F&B, financial, public sector, attractions, and travel. Her personal motto is to make the world a better place, one experience at a time.


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