The High Cost of Customer Aggravation

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It doesn’t take much to frustrate today’s customers. In fact, your business practices and processes might not be the root cause, just the trigger. The evidence indicates that more customers subliminally aggravated or frustrated. Unfortunately, the company that triggers a response pays the price.
Nearly half of all Americans report that they have walked out of a store in the past year just because of bad service. High-income respondents—those making more than $75,000 annually—are even more likely to say they’ve walked out. (Pew Foundation study on Aggravation in America, 2002).

One of their conclusions – too much crowding, too much anonymity, and the pressure of fast-paced lives invites rude behavior, and this rudeness begets more rudeness.
In 2006, a survey of online behavior found that after experiencing 1 to 3 unsuccessful attempts to complete an online purchase, 87% gave up on that online retailer and 65% said they would no longer shop at their brick and mortar store.
Why do we react so strongly to small events? Here’s what Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence has to say about it.

When people are under stress, the emotional aspects of the brain undermine the works of the executive centers. When there is no division between home and work, stress builds on stress. The reason small hassles can drive us over the brink is we are already overwrought with biochemicals. When the amygdale hits the panic button, it induces a cascade that begins with the release of a hormone (CRP) and ends with a flood of stress hormones, mainly cortisol. They are great for fight or flight but stay in the bloodstream for hours—the amygdale gets a hair trigger.

How can a company avoid suffering the consequence of prior events? The obvious answer is don’t do things that set off the trigger. A better solution is to deliberately elicit positive emotional responses. Research indicates positive emotional experiences can help people override previous negative experience and do so quickly. While this might seem obvious, is your company deliberately doing something about it?
Emotions are contagious so upbeat and engaging employees can make a tremendous difference.

John Todor
John I. Todor, Ph.D. is the Managing Partner of the MindShift Innovation, a firm that helps executives confront the volatility and complexity of the marketplace. We engage executives in a process that tackles two critical challenges: envisioning new possibilities for creating and delivering value to customers and, fostering employee engagement in the innovation and alignment of business practices to deliver on the new possibilities. Follow me on Twitter @johntodor

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