By David Forbes, Ph.D.
One of the things we love best about using our MindSight??
technology via mobile is that it lets us capture consumers’ emotional responses
right in the moment, while they are still fresh. Research in memory
consistently tells us that the passage of time works to distort our memories,
so that remembering something for the first time ‘ right after it happens, may
look very different from remembering it hours or days later, because our
memories change with each act of remembering.
One implication of this is that getting feedback about customer experiences
right after they happen
can be very important. So, for example, in our recent work for a large Dunkin’
Donuts franchisee, we took to the field and got consumers to tell us about
emotions using their smart phones.
This client was troubled by a few underperforming stores
among his franchises. These franchises seemed very much like his high
performing stores at first glance: they had identical offerings, were the same
size and located in similar areas. They were even staffed by comparable
crews. And past measures of customer satisfaction indicated little
difference between the stores.
To solve the mystery, we sent researchers
to study the emotional experience of customers at a high-performing store and
at a low performing one. Over the course of the morning rush, we showed
off the MindSight?? ‘game,’ and invited them to try it themselves on their
mobile devices ‘ what we learned was unexpected.
What wasn’t different between the stores were rational
dimensions of performance like how long the line was, or how accurately the
orders were filled. Both stores did fine on those criteria. What
was different was the nature of the emotional experience in these two stores.
Both stores did well on some key elements of emotional
experience ‘ fulfilling a desire to feel empowered and achieved ‘ to ‘start
your engines and dive into the day.’ But the high performing store also
did well in delivering another ‘softer’ type of emotional experience ‘ the
desire to feel understood, and even a little bit nurtured.
At the high performing store, the crew greeted customers
warmly, sometimes even by name. They frequently knew what ‘regulars’ wanted,
and would start on that hazelnut-light-two-sugars even before the customer had
a chance to order it.
At the low-performing store, coffee transactions were less
personalized and nurturing, more businesslike and anonymous. MindSight?? images
chosen by those coffee drinkers to capture the feeling of their customer
experience made it clear that they didn’t feel nurtured here. They felt isolated,
and in fact, they even felt incompetent (about their store choice.) These
results fit well with earlier work we’ve done in breakfast cereals, that shows
us how people tend to be a bit infantile in the morning, and kind of vulnerable
‘ almost as if they are ‘waking up like infants’ and needing to be gentled.
The ‘no frills’ satisfaction of timely, competent service
reported in both stores did not reveal the important differences in service
experience between the high and low performing stores. Only a method
focused on the emotional experience revealed the issue. And a method
using images to get ‘under the radar’ was likely critical. I doubt many
of these consumers could have articulated the pleasure at feeling recognized
and nurtured if we had asked ‘it’s like confessing that you wish your Mom could
still cut your toast in little triangles and butter it just so.
Finally, a method that allowed us to get ‘in the moment’
feedback was likely critical to the insight ‘ measuring consumers emotions
while they were still in that emotional mood of ‘morning vulnerability.’
Cognitive science tells us that memories of negative feelings tend to fade over
time (the ‘Fading Affect Bias’) we suspect that feelings of incompetence, and
of being isolated, during a morning coffee purchase are very good candidates to
‘fade’ (as the day progresses).
Our client is in the process of coaching the staff in
under-performing stores to add those warm touches, asking customers’ names and
treating them like regulars. We’re betting that will be enough to turn those
stores around, so stay tuned.
Want to learn more about
this topic? Attend TMRE 2013 in Nashville,
TN October 21-23. For details, click here:
http://bit.ly/1eV1G5q We hope to see
About the Author:
David Forbes holds a Ph.D. in clinical and cognitive psychology from Clark
University, and was a member of the faculties of Harvard Medical School
Department of Psychiatry and the Harvard Laboratory of Human Development before
beginning his career as a business consultant. He founded Forbes Consulting
over 20 years ago as a strategic market research consultancy dedicated to
creating business advantage through psychological consumer insights. He has
since built Forbes into a major resource for scores of major corporations in
the CPG, Financial Services, and Pharmaceuticals industries, domestically and
internationally. David is the creator of the MindSight?? emotional
assessment technologies, a suite of applied neuropsychological methods for understanding
consumer emotion and motivation, without the distortions of conscious editing
and self presentation.