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Why neuroscience says it’s best to track customer experience as it happens

30th Jan 2015
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Most organisations measure customer experience via surveys, often long after an interaction has been completed. But it’s very likely that customers won’t provide the most accurate and comprehensive responses to surveys conducted along these lines. Why? Put simply people’s brains are not designed to work this way.

You’ll get a much more accurate picture of your brand’s customer experience if you collect feedback in real-time, during, or immediately after each customer interaction.

The science bit
To understand why, it’s necessary to look into the science behind the way people’s brains work.

While a customer is engaging with your company, the key information about that interaction is called into their working memory. Working memory is a bit like a PC’s random access memory in that it calls up and processes information relating to what the person is doing at the time – it does not store anything. This means a customer’s working memory about his/her experience with your company is overwritten with other information as soon as the interaction is over and they start doing something else. 

Some of the key information about the interaction is likely to have been passed on, and will be stored in the customer’s short-term memory. But experts believe short-term memory can only hold a few (probably under 10) pieces of information at once, and these start to fade within minutes.

Very little information about an interaction with your brand will come to be retained in a customer’s long-term memory. So it’s very likely that much of the detail of the interaction will have been forgotten for ever. And studies indicate that memories about negative experiences actually fade faster than positive ones. So if you wait too long, your customer experience research could have a bias towards positive experiences, giving you false confidence about the experience you’re delivering to customers. That’s if people can remember the details of the experience at all.

Event driven feedback is the answer
The upshot is that you are likely to get the most accurate picture of customer experience if you question customers as close as possible to the time of their interaction with your company - ideally by making feedback collection part of the interaction itself or asking questions immediately after.

Thankfully, the rise of mobile devices and the development of feedback technology means it is entirely possible to collect event-driven real-time customer feedback in this way.  You can invite customers to complete a customer experience survey via SMS, email or social media for instance. While during a face-to-face interaction you can give them a URL or QR code on printed invitations or posters.

You may actually find that customers react more positively to providing feedback in real-time because they like the immediacy of it and find it easier to do because you’re not asking them to strain to recall what happened weeks or months ago. Giving feedback at the moment of the interaction is just so much more natural and relevant so customers are happier to provide feedback this way.

Of course the other big advantage of collecting feedback in real-time is that it is so  immediate that you can actually take action there and then to turn a negative experience around with positive action to keep customers happy and loyal.  Similarly, because you are continuously collecting customer experience feedback – rather than at specific times in the year - you can spot trends earlier in order to make informed business decisions. So in the same way as your customers’ brains will prefer real-time customer experience feedback collection methods, so will your business.


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18th Mar 2015 19:37


Neuroscience states that collecting customer experience feedback in real-time is important to get accurate and comprehensive responses. I guess it is extremely important that employee engagement feedbacks are also collected in real-time.

The purpose of collecting real-time employee feedback

Businesses exist to make customers happy. Customer’s needs turn into a business. Immediate feedback tells us what actions need to be taken. The employee’s contribution drives the business. Customer feedback indicates the quality of the employee’s contribution.

Companies conduct employee engagement surveys for several purposes. In this article I will focus on employee satisfaction. A happy employee on one end represents a happy customer on the other end. To my knowledge, very few companies conduct Employee engagement surveys. Employee engagement surveys help businesses to treat employees fairly: through career development, training, allocating the right tasks to make good use of their skills, identifying hidden skills, etc.

An employee’s review is an important moment for both the employee and the business. Reviews are based on data which is gathered within a time. According to neuroscience, it is highly likely that important facts do not last long in our working memory. To gain an accurate insight into an employee’s contribution, it is important for there to be event-driven feedback from both customers and employees. For example: Forgetting that an employee has scored highly in the area of “building relationships with customers” in a review session can result in inaccurate feedback from the employer to the employee, which can lead to the employee losing motivation.

The use of event-driven feedback for personal review

Creative employee engagement surveys can gather necessary details to use at one’s personal review. HR departments can combine the customer’s feedback and employee feedback to design appropriate review plans.

HR departments can make good use of customer feedback and employee engagement feedback to design relevant review points. The points can be broken down into surveys, matching them with the review points and scheduling the review for the right time within the financial year.

This task is extremely hard. Special skills and brains must work together to match customer feedback surveys, employee engagement surveys with personal review. Otherwise, it is another leaky bucket.

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