The secret ingredient for improving customer experience – Tripping Points
Imagine you can go beyond customer surveys and interviews. Imagine you can directly see how customer interactions happen in real life and how they feel. That’s one of the cornerstones of our CX Lab approach to customer experience. We call our insight CX Lab Tests. We seek to find out how customers respond and feel in real time. This enables us to identify where customer expectations are not met. We call these instances Tripping Points. Here’s a short video we’ve made that explains all about Tripping Points:
How do we measure customers’ arousal levels?
We recruit real customers. Mystery shoppers are useful for companies but have a huge limitation in that they are not real customers. Mystery shoppers make judgements using pre agreed criteria. Each real customer is unique and has her own expectations. By conducting research with real customers we obtain real information. (Of course the customers we recruit sign privacy waivers beforehand).
We use biometric measuring devices to monitor customers’ physiological reactions. Our medical grade devices measure 7 different aspects of the body’s reaction, including:
- electrodermal activity (EDA)
- heart rate variability
- skin temperature
All of this data combines to show levels of arousal. Good and bad. In other words, moments when our bodies show we are in a heightened state. Our heart rate increases, EDA increases, skin temperature increases. These are physiological flags. These moments show what we are actually feeling. The body does not lie.
These moments of significant change show the Tripping Points in the customer’s journey. We aggregate the data and identify moments when customers’ expectations were not met. These are often small and surprising things. Sometimes we also highlight obvious problems, and the real-time data helps add weight to fixing these issues. A research project for a major car retailer found more than 30 Tripping Points. In fixing this, the company improved margins and sales by over 20%.
Of course we also have highly positive physiological moments. And identifying these moments too is useful. It’s when we are excited and ultra alert. Do these moments match the wow moments that the customer experience was designed to deliver? Our research usually throws up interesting findings. For example, tests carried out on the customer experience of attending a football match, shows that the physiological arousal level is actually higher before entering the ground, well before kick off. (Even though the game in question was very exciting and led to a win for the home team). This shows the massive power of anticipation. This finding has implications for many organisations. For example, focus groups have showed us how important anticipation is for people when they dream about their next holiday. It’s critical to make the most of this period of time before a customer actually enters a store/picks up the phone/begins their interaction.
Tripping Points are all around us.
Some recent examples that have happened to me:
- I ask for a bubble bath to be gift wrapped. The shop where I am in is highly green and ethical. They wrap my present in plastic film.
- I log a problem on an online help portal. For 3 days my problem is unresolved. But during this time I receive 2 badges via email, awarding me things like: “Yay, you just posted your first problem!” I felt anything but Yay! Just solve my problem!
- I walk into a travel agency. Every staff member is behind a desk on the phone. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I feel confused. Do I sit down, do I wander about?
Are you now thinking of many Tripping Points that you’ve recently experienced?
Why are Tripping Points important?
They are significant because once identified you can fix them. This improves your customer experience. Customers’ expectations are better matched. Customer behaviour is changed which in turn leads to commercial return. And the beauty of all this is that it is based on real customers, and their real experiences. Not what they say in a survey.
Tripping Points also help companies to identify the wow moments. And then to ensure that they are consistently repeated.
Real time customer interactions can lead to important findings for customer service training. For example, researchers from Case Western Reserve University have just published a fascinating study*. They used video footage to analyse real time customer interactions in an airport. They discovered that employees who demonstrated energetic problem solving behaviour led to higher customer satisfaction than employees who had great empathy and EI skills. This finding goes against the grain of all conventional customer service wisdom. Act on it, and you could achieve a breakthrough in your own company’s complaint handling. (*The research is published in the Journal of Marketing Research, April 2018).
How can you use Tripping Points?
Of course not everyone has access to medical grade biometric devices or hours of video footage. But there’s plenty that can be done without them. Shop or use your service (or product) as a customer. Observe when you are surprised. Watch and listen to customers. See where they pause or look startled.
Or ask us to explore what’s really going on as humans experience your brand 🙂