There is a growing body of evidence that suggests we make most, if not all, purchasing decisions based on emotions. Even those who claim Spock-like intellects rely on some level of emotion.
I believe emotion plays a significant part of a differentiating customer experience. An employee can meet the technical requirements of delivering their product or service and still leave you feeling underwhelmed.
As I am writing this I’m thinking of the technician who came to our house to routinely service our heat pump for the summer season. He cleaned out the lines, did all the proper checking that was required in the contract. However, he set the bottle of material on our carpet. It left a stain that I had to remove. Service check. Experience fail. It can be just that simple.
There are stores I frequently visit because of the experience like Trader Joe’s. In addition to products our family really likes, you get the feeling the employees don’t mind coming to work. I’ve noticed the employees seem to share roles and help each other in addition to helping customers. They will let you in the store one minute before they close instead of casually closing five or ten minutes early.
Notice these examples might seem like rather small insignificant details to some, but they make all the difference in the emotional experience.
Consumers who give experience high ratings are 86% more likely to purchase more. Source: Temkin Group
60% of people’s willingness to recommend, buy from, work for, and invest in a company is driven by their perceptions of the company, and only 40% is driven by their perceptions of the company’s products. Source: SAP
According to behavioral economists, decision making is 70% emotional and 30% rational. Source: Gallup
Those with positive emotional experiences are more than
- 6 times as likely to buy more
- 12 times more likely to recommend the company
- 5 times as likely to forgive a mistake
Source: Temkin Group
According to Gallup studies, companies that apply behavioral economics outperform their peers by 85% in sales growth and more than 25% in gross margin.
Mining the Emotion Gap
Emotion is one of the weakest measures (by a considerable margin) across all the industries the Temkin Group measures in their surveys. Base on this same survey, only 74% of companies rate their response to emotional interactions as either okay or poor. The good news in this dismal news, you may not have to do much to really stand out.
I believe it’s safe to conclude that there’s a significant gap between the experience brands think they are providing versus the reality of the one their customers are experiencing.
Here are 3 simple things you can do right now to bridge the gap. A warning, being simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy.
3 Amazingly Simple Hacks
Before you implement these hacks you have to be clear on your purpose. Simon Sinek in his famous TED talk articulates this in a very compelling talk. You’ve probably seen it. Daniel Pink, a noted author, describes the power of intrinsic motivation in his talk. He says people are motivated by three things:
These three hacks overlap on purpose. They are links in an experiential chain. Creating a compelling experience requires the right product or service delivered by the right people. It also requires leadership; the right people must be inspired to want to serve.
I often use the term empower, however, recently I came across this term and I like it a lot.
Giving someone the means to do something is straightforward. Authority is messier, but it’s key. Think about an experience where an agent or staff member was less than helpful. In fairness to them, they might be simply following the rules.
The United Airlines saga is a billboard example of following the rules.
I am not suggesting we give everyone carte blanche. I am suggesting that we instill in everyone a sense of ownership so they feel empowered to act on behalf of colleagues or customers. The Ritz-Carlton gives every staff member a $2,000 guideline. They don’t have to seek approval to spend up to this amount. This is a tangible example of both authority and means.
What have you done to clearly communicate your expectations to your staff?
Have you asked your staff what they feel the company expects them to do?
Do your employees feel they have the authority? Are they clear on how much?
If you are going to give your employees the authority you’ll want to make sure they have the resources to respond to customers. Training is the primary foundation. Companies that deliver outstanding customer experiences spend time and money training their staff. Often the training goes well beyond the specific requirements of their job functions.
Part of equipping is sharing information. Keeping staff in the loop builds trust and confidence that translates to a more authentic delivery of the experience. Trader Joe’s has a very diverse workforce who seem to be allowed to deliver the experience incorporating their personality. There appear to be guidelines but not rigid rules.
There are interesting parallels between equipping and creating employee advocacy programs. Venkatesh Raman outlines five here.
Do your employees feel they have the proper training? What about communications? Do they feel they are in the loop?
An even better question is “What can I (we) do to provide more resources for you?
Feedback is the lifeblood of any successful organization. While vital, it’s often messy. It’s messy because we all have different styles that can make giving and receiving difficult. Most organizations ask for feedback from customers and employees.
Jay Baer wrote a great book on the topic – “Hug Your Haters“. It’s powerful because feedback can be painful, especially when issues are exposed. Instead of trying to defend or even ignore, Jay suggests that the toughest feedback can make all the difference. This is true whether that feedback is coming from employees or customers.
Here is a big challenge….. We often ask for feedback from customers, and sometimes employees. Most of the time feedback centers around a complaint or a complement. There may have been a breakdown in the delivery or use of a product/service or exceptional service given.
What if you were to add an emotional component to the feedback? In addition to collecting feedback, what if you gave people an easy way to express their emotion? I recently came across this graphic. I would offer customers/employees an open-ended space to tell you what it would take to create an ear to ear smile if you received anything less than that. By collecting this information you may uncover issues that may otherwise go undetected.
If you haven’t already, get clear on your purpose and then connect each role in the company to this purpose. You can use these simple hacks to create a customer experience that creates a community. If you aren’t sure where to begin there are organizations like Innerwill.org that are dedicated to helping organizations address and implement these practices.
Two-way communication is key. Start by asking for and acting on feedback. The key is “acting on” if you ask, you must be willing to address issues that surface.
Start now, there will never be an ideal time. Small incremental changes over time can have a significant cumulative effect.