New Report: Neuroscience Proves Customer Experience (CX) Isn’t Just Fluff

What’s the Importance of CX? There’s a lot of talk about creating a great customer experience. Seems the world has gone from being concerned with CRM to customer experience. And every vendor is talking about it- whether its a marketing vendor, customer service vendor, mobile vendor…. What I wondered was what scientific data is there to help prove that customer experience wasn’t just a fluffy initiative that was the next fad. From being a customer myself (we all are) I found that intuitively I know that the type of customer experience I have and others have does make a difference in our opinion about a brand. It changes whether we want to interact with them again, whether we purchase from them, whether we become a loyal customer bringing repeat business and whether we make positive remarks to our friends and family as well as what we post in social media. Social media carries more weight that most realize because while most people won’t post a response, they will read it. That’s the 1-9-90 rule, where ~1% of the people post, ~9% respond to the person who posted and ~90% just read the post, but don’t respond. 90% of my 58,000 followers on Twitter is 52,200 people.  Even if not all of them see a post, it’s still a lot of people.

The Science of Flow That Makes Up Customer Experience. Noted psychology researcher and writer Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi observed in 1998 that people who perform seamless, sequence-based activities regularly are happier than people who do not. He coined the term “flow” to describe this behavior. However, instead of offering smoothly sequential flows, websites and mobile applications often experience lag, downtime, and restarts. At the same time, customers’ flow-oriented brains simply are not wired to deal with poor digital interactions. As a result, when the customer experience is poor, they leave the site and go to a competitor’s that has optimized both their IT and CX metrics so the experience does flow well. Science has shown the business need for great customer experiences is a fact, not a myth.

The Neuroscience of Customer Experience. It can be tempting to label customers picky and impatient, but there’s a wealth of research on what happens to customers on a neurological level when they are forced to deal with slow or interrupted processes. Impatience is an indelible part of human circuitry. Brands must recognize that the hardwiring of customers’ brains and their neurological desire for flow and ease of use are part of their expectations. Companies must come to terms with the economic imperative of the customer experience or risk losing customers to the competition.

Based on neuroscience, the facts about human perception and response times have been consistent for more than 45 years. They are hard-wired into the brain and are consistent regardless of the type of device, application, or connection a customer is using. That’s key to understanding where customer expectations come from. It is critical to determine how a brand’s web and mobile sites compare to customer expectations as well as to benchmark against CoIT applications, competitors or even non-competitors who have a great customer experience.

Customer Expectations Mean Business. In Robert B. Miller’s 1968 paper, “Response Time in Man-Computer Conversational Transactions,” he found that people have always been most comfortable, efficient and productive with response times of less than two seconds. Since 2006, what has changed slightly is that the average online shopper expects pages to load in four seconds or less. Today, 49 percent expect page load times of two seconds or less and 18 percent expect pages to load instantly. While optimizing every aspect of a brand’s digital assets to meet an “instant” expectation is a laudable goal, organizations simply may not have budgeted the resources to achieve this goal. Digital experience maturity, however, provides teams the ability to identify the interaction points in the digital customer journey most sensitive to improvement. As a result, they can maximize return on performance investment and include this in the budget and resource planning.

Fast websites create satisfied users who are more likely to follow “calls to action” to register, download, subscribe, request information, or purchase. On the other end, unsatisfied users, which could include those who experience a mere two-second slowdown in web page load time, make almost two percent fewer queries, nearly four percent fewer clicks, and report being significantly less satisfied with their overall experience. Worse, they tell friends about their negative experience. With the word-of- mouth that social media networks provide, brands need to heed the seriousness of positively differentiating the brand’s customer experience.

Want more information on this new report? You can find it here.

The neuroscience of customer experience @drnatalie petouhoff

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer-facing applications that make great customer experiences

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