Imagine you are in the waiting room at your dentist. You’ve had a pain twingeing at your back tooth for a few days now and you’re terrified it’s going to need a root canal - you hate root canals, everyone hates them.
But while you sit there, nerves jangling, you notice there is gentle, quite relaxing music playing and it starts to make you feel a little less nervous. There’s also a delicate, not overpowering, pleasant scent in the air… is that cinnamon?
And as you look around, you see that the walls are painted a soothing colour, and there are patches of beautiful colour in the flowers on the reception desk, paintings on the wall, the chair you’re sitting on. After several minutes you’re not that nervous anymore. Sure, a root canal is horrible, but it’s not the end of the world.
Human beings are not one-dimensional creatures. We experience everything around us through our five senses, and more and more businesses are realising just how important those senses are to customer experiences. The more senses you can appeal to at once, the more likely your customers are to have a good experience, which inevitably leads to repeat custom.
For example, everyone’s favorite cinnamon bun company, Cinnabon, has long known the appeal of the scent of their buns baking - scent is a powerful sensory motivator, but it isn’t quite enough. Instead, this company draws you in with an appeal to multiple senses: there’s the delicious smell of cinnamon, sugar and baking yeast, or course, but there’s also the colour that the stores are painted.
Orange and its varietals are known to stimulate hunger, so it’s little wonder you feel a sudden grumble in your belly as you amble past a Cinnabon store, while the blue of its logo is designed to evoke trust and reliability - you just know you’ll get exactly what you expect here!
They take the visual stimulation even further, with displays of fresh, delicious-looking buns and, in some stores, you get to watch them being made. And of course, there’s the moment you bite into one of these soft, sweet buns and discover it’s just as good as you hoped, treating your sense of taste to a delight.
Cinnabon has it down: by appealing to multiple senses, they make it almost impossible to resist and, by making sure the product quality lives up to expectations, they guarantee themselves long-term clients who relish their cinnamon bun experience.
Colouring your experiences
One of the easiest and most effective ways to add at least one additional sensory dimension to your customer experience is through clever use of colour. And it’s not just about choosing the right colour for your logos, either - it’s about using colour cleverly to create and enhance the experience.
Colour can be used in multiple ways to improve your CX: it can be used to stimulate specific emotional reactions and appeal to people’s demographics, needs and emotions - this colour wheel gives a useful breakdown on the psychology of color.
Colour can also be used to help cut confusion and reduce frustration. For example, recently some airports have started using colour-coded signage to help reduce passenger confusion and help them find their way more easily, which has led to a drastic reduction in frustrations and time-wasting.
Color and brand personality
It can also be very effective in helping customers understand the personality of your brand. Of course, this association will also be built through your company’s culture, what you put out there as your brand, and whether your colour branding is appropriate to what you do.
The type of colours you use can also help you link your brand to the past, the present, or the future, and can be very useful in helping you market new product launches, or in easing people into a new concept.
For example, brighter, more vibrant colours work very well for products that have an immediacy - something close, launching soon, and something the customer will buy for themselves. On the other hand, if it is something aspirational, something designed to be bought as a gift, or a product that is very new in concept, calmer, less vibrant colours do the trick.
The reason this works? It’s something known as construed information - in other words, it affects how someone visualises something. If it’s far away, launching in several months or years, or something that doesn’t have a sense or urgency attached to it, like a long-term project or charity, then less saturation, or even black and white, is more effective.
This research paper goes into considerably more detail, but the gist of it is, if you want to get people involved in your product or service, color can be an important factor in how you present it, and how they experience your brand, the product or service itself, and your company culture.
Color is one of the strongest links to creating an emotional experience, and emotions are at the heart of good CX. Your Emotional Signature can drive value for you, your customers and employees.
Have you noticed how a company has made good use of color and your other senses to attract you to their brand? Let us know in the comments below.
It may not seem logical or rational that our senses can make such a difference to your customers decisions but research proves that emotions comprise more than half the typical customer experience. Find out more in our next FREE webinar Customers Are Irrational - Don't Fight It, Embrace It! on October 19th.
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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organisations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX
About Colin Shaw
Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of worlds first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of six best-selling books. Beyond Philosophy has a proven track record. They provide consulting, specialised research & training from Sarasota, Florida and London, England. Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX