Customer experience? Aim for oxytocin!

Customer experience is all!

I have just finished reading ‘Why Customer Experience Matters & How It Wins Business’ By Tim Smalley.

Tim says that business has transformed. No longer is the seller in control. Customers have more power than they’ve ever had. They reject forceful and intrusive advertising, marketing methods and poor customer service.

[bctt tweet=”Customer experience ignore it at your peril. Give, give, give and watch the results. Treat customers as potential friends and see the difference!” username=”@supposeiam”]. We all love eavesdropping on these stories. We love the drama and our capacity to empathise. We aren’t adverse to sharing someone’s pain either.

Any business failing to listen on social media is taking a massive risk

One tweet, one video or one Facebook comment can become viral. If your aren’t in the same place as your customers hang out you might be shocked at what happens when your back is turned.

[bctt tweet=”Customer experience ignore it at your peril. Give, give, give and watch the results. Treat customers as potential friends and see the difference!” username=”@supposeiam”] A social media crisis can cause lasting damage.

So what’s the solution to a wonderful customer experience?

Let me tell you a story. One evening I had been working late and was feeling somewhat frazzled. As I walked in to London Kings Cross station I saw a Pret franchise in the middle of the concourse. At that moment I needed something sweet and trundled up to the counter.

A young man serving smiled and asked me for my order. ‘Oh, I don’t know’ I said ‘I am that tired I can’t make a decision.’ He smiled again and made some suggestions. I decided on a hot chocolate and a lemon muffin.

The barrista served me, handed me the food and said, ‘Have that on me. You look like you are in need.’ I was floored. I thanked him and sat down at the table. I couldn’t stop smiling and wrote a thank you note to the young man on a napkin. When I left I handed him the note and caught a glimpse as he shared it with his colleagues. I wonder where he is now?

I know Pret has (had) a policy of giving staff x number of free orders per day they can offer to customers of their choice but it did feel good!

You might think this story is cute but pretty pointless but consider this

The story of my hot chocolate is aired regularly. I am writing about it now, for example. But more importantly it suddenly dawned on me that almost subconsciously I have started using Pret as my default lunch venue. Something has drawn me to the brand and I know exactly what; it’s obvious isn’t it?

Since ‘the gesture’ I must have spent hundreds of pounds. So the free chocolate and cake has netted considerably more profit. As Bradley J Sugars says in his book ‘Buying Customers’:

‘Outstanding customer service and added value are the main reasons your customers will return to you. Through great customer service business add perceived value to the experience of shopping with them. No matter what they buy customers want great service.When you start there and build relationships on the foundation you will find that generating repeat business is easier than you thought it would be.’

So how does this happen?

If you speak to a neuroscientist they will say that there is massive synaptic potential. Hope we engage with people online and offline could share the same emotions – should in fact.

Oxytocin production is hugely important. It helps us to trust and empathise. [bctt tweet=”Customer experience ignore it at your peril. Give, give, give and watch the results. Treat customers as potential friends and see the difference!” username=”@supposeiam”] I don’t particularly want to explore that now but think of the feeling and that’s what we are aiming for.

So how can we promote those feelings of trust and joy? Sometimes a reminder that business is not always self-serving is a start. An act of generosity, for example also releases more oxytocin.

Imagine you had a small coffee franchise on a station that ran a loyalty scheme

A customer comes to the counter with a card that is almost full. How would they feel if you stamped their loyalty card twice and said this coffee was free, put another stamp on a new card and send them on their way.

What does that create? Loyalty, an increase in oxytocin and more future sales. It’s simple and costs little. We all know it’s easier to sell to existing customers so why don’t we do more if it? We need to disrupt customers’ thinking in a positive way with an element of pleasant surprise and even creativity.

However, you can have the opposite effect of course. When a business sets high expectations and then doesn’t follow through that destroys trust. It’s amazing how many businesses set up an expectation: ‘I’ll call you this afternoon’ and then don’t even follow through with that simple promise!

If you don’t share the bad stuff how can people trust you when you share the good stuff?

If you fail to read the signs. A customer tweets that they’ve just bought your cranberry fruit tea and it’s the most disgusting thing they’ve tasted. What you don’t do is say’ we have more in the range you can try.’ You say something like ‘We are so disappointed you didn’t like it. DM us and we’ll send you a voucher for you to try another flavour that you might enjoy better.’

You placate a disgruntled customer and may prevent them from changing to another brand. For the price of a small box of teabags you might even have created an advocate or some very economical word of mouth advertising.

If you read When Experience Meets Design by Brian Solis (a must-read for any digital marketeer) you will see that customer/user experience has to be uppermost in your considerations at every stage. It’s not just about promoting your branding and making yourself look good but how customers can find what they want, relieve their pain points and leave happy.

As Tim says in his article:

If your customers have a less than satisfactory experience, you can expect it to be plastered across social media. Historically you’d expect the whole community to discover your poor customer service in the 1930s. You either take this on board or take the consequences. You can embrace criticism and honestly show you care or shrug and say’ that’s life’. Which way will your business choose?

I’m with him on that.

You can read the full article on why customer experience matters by Tim Smalley right here

Delivering a flawless customer experience

The authenticity of the Pret Academy

Vivienne Neale is passionate about customer service and digital transformation. Follow her on Twitter @supposeiam or LinkedIn

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