Archive for February, 2011

February 12, 2011

Emotion at the Heart of the Customer Experience

The Emotional Decision Maker

The way we feel underlies almost all our decisions and actions, even ones that we think are rational and logical.  Social psychological research continues to reveal the emotional and seemingly irrational underpinnings of our choices, from the smallest purchase to the most major life change.  It is inevitable that the same emotional responses will lie at the heart of how we choose to interact with organisations.

The emotional basis for decision making allows us to understand why an organisation’s front-line service providers are key to influencing our decisions to become and remain customers of any organisation.  Our interaction with them creates an emotional response and sets a pattern for our interaction with the organisation.  It is the way that the people of an organisation make us feel that determines our most strongly held opinions about it.

Person to Person

Of course there are other factors in forming our opinions as customers – the organisation’s advertising and materials, what we hear about them in the media, our experience of their product and other people’s views to name a few.  But at its heart, every contact an individual has with an organisation, in whatever form, is a personal interaction.

No matter in what medium of communication ia, what we infer about the meaning behind the communication and the emotional response it creates in us, is largely the same as would occur in a conversation in person between two people.

As social animals we are continually interpreting and responding to the way that other people interact with us, even if that is only through some text on a website or a set of instructions.

We are able to detect nuances of tone and subtle inferences in any type of communication and our deepest emotional reaction shapes our behaviour without conscious awareness.  In fact, we can impute meaning to a complete lack of communication – for example, think what meanings we draw from an organisation’s repeated failure to answer the phone when we have a problem to discuss.

Although we are interacting with an organisation, to our social brain that only makes sense as a group of individuals: along with the product itself,  our interactions with the person we are speaking to is the foundation of almost all that we will come to feel about an organisation.

Above and Beyond Simple Emotional Response to Experience

Psychological research consistently finds that our emotions about someone or something create the conditions for their own existence, through cognitive processes called attentional and confirmation biases. 

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February 7, 2011

Is there a kind of person who will always be better at customer service?

It is clear that organisational culture, training and management practices and systems contribute greatly to the quality of an organisation’s customer service. 

Unfortunately however, over time, even the most motivated, resilient and helpful people can lose the will to deliver excellent service if an organisation fails to champion, encourage and reward employees who prioritise customer satisfaction.  

Likewise, no amount of direction, support, incentivisation or motivational speeches will lead to excellent service provision, if the jobs are filled with people who don’t have the natural inclination or the personality to make customers happy.  

People can learn the right way to do things and can be empowered to make decisions that will meet each customer’s needs.  But having an instinctive feeling for what will help, a knack for tuning into the needs and perspectives of all kinds of customer and a drive to keep working out solutions are most likely to be instinctive and enduring traits that can take years to develop, if at all. 

The characteristics that makes one customer service provider outshine another are almost always related to their personality, values and attitudes and it means that some people are naturally better suited to customer service roles. 

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