The psychology of customer experience

5th Sep 2017

Simon Fraser, Senior Director - Customer Success at InMoment, discusses the psychological elements key to understanding and improving customers’ experiences.

Being able to reliably analyse and understand the experiences of your customers is not a simple proposition. In every interaction, a number of factors come into play and the finest of margins can decide whether a customer has a positive or negative experience.

However, consumers have the capability to offer valuable insights into the way they purchase, and, most importantly, why they buy from and stay loyal to certain brands.

We can tap into this wealth of Customer Experience (CX) information by taking a forensic and real-time approach to understanding customer perceptions which delivers powerful insights based on structured data (scores, ratings and metrics) as well as unstructured ‘human’ data (social reviews, chat, emails and comments).

At the heart of this is the psychology of CX. For our latest CX Trends Survey we spoke to 10,000 brands and 20,000 customers across the globe to find out what keeps consumers happy. The results revealed the following three core psychological elements to CX which are key to understanding and improving the experiences of customers.

Emotion is at the very core of human behaviour

Emotion is something that shapes us and plays a huge part in our lives, and plays the primary role in our decision making. For the most part, if you deliver a positive experience, in-line with customer expectations, you’re likely to receive a positive reaction. Missing the mark and letting customers down can create feelings of disappointment, disrespect and, sometimes, anger. Consumer expert, Ruby Newell-Legner claims it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. That’s a pretty big gap to fill, which is why getting it right first time is imperative.

The power of variables

When determining a customer’s experience, both physical and psychological variables must come into play. The power of unstructured data is that it goes beyond the confines of a numerical ranking system and takes into consideration sentiment. A deeper understanding emerges from the narratives in emails, customer call logs, voice and written comments, videos and even employee evaluations which all provide valuable insight when tapping into the psychology of CX. A wealth of data can be obtained through structured, qualitative questions and rankings however combining this data with the human data is imperative in developing the nuanced understanding required to build authentic relationships with your customers.   

The subconscious mind

Companies often focus on creating an experience that appeals to their customer’s conscious mind – but what about their subconscious thoughts and emotions? Subconscious thoughts are extremely difficult to measure. The human brain unknowingly processes so many thoughts, feelings and emotions every second of every day – but which of these thoughts are influencing our opinions without us realising?

If we consider the 38% of consumers who associate satisfaction with positive experiences, and the 40% who associate the same emotion with brands they are loyal to, as seen in our CX Trends Study, it raises the question as to what proportion of our thoughts are subconscious, rather than conscious. These thoughts may be difficult to evaluate, but smaller details revealed in voice, video and a careful study of syntax may help us identify subconscious thoughts.

To truly understand customers, we must look beyond the numbers, using both human and machine intelligence to highlight the emotions behind a customer’s interaction with a company and ensure both structured and unstructured data are in the mix. Finally, we must look beyond the words themselves in feedback and look to the subconscious, the tell-tale signs in our facial expressions, vocal intonations and word choice which give away a myriad of thoughts and feedback in a matter of seconds.

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