Essential CX questions to help you survive 21st century business.
(Less than 7 minutes reading)
Our global business village has emerged into an exciting, but for some frightening, environment. Expressions like hyper competition, involuntary transparency and truly empowered consumers are used to describe reality, and not only as buzzwords. What can we do to address some of these customer experience (CX) challenges?
Sitting on a long flight from visiting my sister in Singapore, I had the opportunity to really sink into my own thoughts and give myself retrospect on the now six years venture into “emotions in business”.
Not that there was a lack of entertainment onboard this 20 hours of flight with Emirates. The “amusement machine” in front of my comfortable seat offered an abundance of content, from music, films, documentaries, sports, debates, news updates, games, reading (facts and fiction)....
But the opportunity to just let my mind digest three intensive days in Singapore, and how this melting pot could be looked upon through findings from my years into behavioural economics, was excitement enough.
My reasoning ended up in a conclusion; that we now have entered the future business world that economists and researchers have been talking about since the late 70ies for real. You can learn more in our free e-book The Evolution of Customer Experience in 2015.
Why management tends to do things wrong?
First let us first make a short jump back in history..
The overall question that most business executives, from the mid 20th century up till now, ask themselves is: Why do our customers and employees not make the choices that are most beneficial to them? We have given them all the good reasons! Why don´t they do as we so cleverly advise them to?
The answer has much to do with our western educational faculties and the flawed “truth” they have taught for over 2000 years. "Man is a rational being!"
One man to blame for entering this deceptive track was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides of Elea (late sixth or early fifth century BC). His ideas had a strong effect on, among others, Aristotle, who together with Plato and Socrates are considered one of the most influential figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle's views extended well into the Renaissance. His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, which were incorporated during the late 1800s in formal logic.
Rationalism was developed during the late 1600s and 1700s by philosophers like René Descartes, Baruc Spinoza and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. It was to characterize the Enlightenment thinking, and thus the modern scientific view. Reason alone is the measure of all things, and with its help, all problems can be solved. Aspects of this philosophy continue to be studied in academia today. And this is where things start to go wrong for business.
Management and executives most commonly have a degree, in engineering, economy, mathematics or some kind of humanities and thus decides on the wrong conditions. It is only in the later part of the 20th century and accelerating into the 21st, that science recognises that we humans are not as rational as we want to perceive ourselves and that business is mainly about emotions!
Socrates was right though.
Socrates (469-399 BC), influenced by Paremenides, still gave the idea, that humans are rational, some serious thought. He was not totally convinced that human behaviour is really rational and decision making is built upon serious reasoning.
Researchers all over the world have now confirmed that this is the case. We are all hard core dopamine junkies seeking instant emotional rewards and let reason serve as a way to post rationalize most of our decisions.
So what does this have to do with business?
The majority of humans globally have now entered what is called the Age of Abundance. We do things because we want to, not because we need to. And in most situations have overwhelming alternatives to choose from. Percentage of the world population that live under poverty level has dropped from the 80’s 60%, to a level of 24% today.
This can naturally be argued upon in this time or refugee crises in Europe and Middle East, but global wealth has in fact grown constantly for the last centuries. Today most of the population in Asia and Africa can be considered to be middle class or lower middle class, meaning that they themselves decide what and how to consume.
A majority of humans in the world have an endless supply of interchangeable products to choose from and science has proved that we all need emotions to guide us through life (Recommended reading: Descartes´ error by Antonio Damasio). So how does this impact your daily business and actions?
In almost everything you do in business you involve human beings in one way or another. Those being customers, partners, investors, employees, suppliers or other stakeholders. This means that a profound knowledge and insight in human behaviour and emotional impact has to be at the core of most departments of your business.
I could go on talking about Experience Design for hours, but sitting in by Emirates flight seat I came up with three basic questions that you really will have to post to your organization (and expect good answers to), if you seriously want to start developing into a viable 21st century business.
Good questions for your actions sanity checkbox.
- Q. Do we address our customer’s rational or emotional side with this action?
- Q. Do we require rational reasoning from our customers in our marketing activities and the choices we propose?
If rational arguments are over represented, maybe you should make a serious revision of your offerings, market behaviour and communication.
Q. Do we give our customers the mental opportunity to choose the action we want them to?
One of the fast evolving areas of behavioural economics is choice architecture. Most often we seem to design our product mix, price models and loyalty programs based upon arguments that appear totally logical from an inside-out perspective but are interpreted differently by our customers, based upon the fact that they are emotionally driven, risk averse and suckers for emotional rewards.
- Q. Do we have enough insight into human behaviour to assess if our packaging serves it purpose? If not, do we know how to acquire this knowledge?
- Q. Do we have ways to get feedback on emotional responses to our actions?
Emotional responses, the major delivery of well executed experience design, can only be harvested either during, or in direct proximity to the actual experience. Immediately after the experience, our minds will start to rationalise our memories, trying to fit them into our expected patterns, biased by external influences, brand reputation and group pressure.
- Q. Do we use modern experience feedback tools that allow us to have a constant ear to the ground?
If we already do, it means that we can improve the things that work well further. Give the mediocre actions some over-hauling and stop doing things that are seriously damaging our customer experience.
Entering the world of "emotions in business" is not easy, but extremely rewarding. Many of the actions you can perform, and small incremental changes you can do to your customer experience, will most likely have a disproportional positive effect on both short term revenue and long time value of your business. You can learn more in our free e-book The Evolution of Customer Experience in 2015.
As a final message i would like to cite Socrates:
"I know that I know nothing."
Business is a continuous evolution and requires constant learning. Good luck in yours.