Leading CX players leverage behavioral psychology to orchestrate the ultimate customer journey. How a company sequences what are called the high touchpoints (pleasurable experiences) in conjunction with the low touchpoints (unpleasant or painful experiences) can materially change a customer’s collective experience. To ensure an overall pleasurable experience, brands can focus the majority of their marketing efforts on the high touchpointsto help ease (or outweigh) the more unpleasant touchpoints.
Why am I talking about the role of behavioral psychology in CX this week? Respecting the numerous principles a single blog post can't cover, the area of behavioral psychology I want to hone in on is the perception of service received, in particular, how unpleasant endings (i.e., low touchpoints) have a stronger negative impact on the overall customer experience. More specifically, behavioral psychology shows a negative final touchpoint has a disproportionate impact on memory and experience. What is often referred to as the peak-end rule identified by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Barbara Fredrickson.
The frequent final touchpoint in retail is often the purchase. At a physical store, the purchase takes place at a manned register (associate) or unmanned (self-checkout) register. Online, it can be as quick as Amazon’s 1-Click checkout. Furthermore, many brands lose contact with customers after check-out only to see them again when they return.
The travel industry has some of the best examples on how to turn what can be thought of as negative endings (final touchpoints, peak-end rule) into positive ones. For example, hotels eliminated the hassle of waiting in lines to check out. Customers provide all their payment credentials when booking rooms before the trip. Then, the hotel verifies credit cards at check-in and for incidentals. Customers can even avoid check-in now with Apps that also serve as keys and unlock doors. If everything works out, at the end of the stay customers just walk out the door. However, don’t forget that free breakfast, which is yet another tactic to end on another high touchpoint. I could share countless examples from the travel industry, but I want to cover something that is perplexing me.
How in the world did retailers let what is often the last touchpoint become such a hassle? It’s frequently like a bad one night stand with a checkout associate who is in NO mood to deal with it, “stick it in, wait…take it out, now put it back in, wait…let me reset it. We hate these new machines and cards too.” I’m talking about EMV or Chip & PIN. How did it come to this? I’ve expected and experienced the transition to Chip & PIN to be bumpy, but it’s getting worse and it’s multiplying. It’s everywhere in Chicago from Whole Foods to CVS, Walgreens, Jewel, Target, The Home Depot, Starbucks, Macy’s, H&M, Penguin, and a host of other retailers. Customers also have to listen to bad one-night stands happening to the person in front of them, beside them, two isles down from them and at times outside the store from family and friends. I hear it from people all the time especially right when they return from shopping expecting it to be a quick trip, and at times leaving baskets behind because the machine never accepted the Chip & PIN card. Heck, I hate to admit I’ve left my shopping basket behind before.
It’s actually kind of sad seeing payment systems across America end up in this state. Unfortunately, we’re stuck with it for years to come since the bigger retailers have upgraded systems to be compliant. Compliance is a whole other topic in addition to the new machines looking more like technology from the 90s than something from 2016. Maybe the intent here is to get mobile payment to catch on? When using physical credit cards and Chip & PIN becomes collectively annoying across multiple retailers that mobile payment becomes more desirable. Mobile payment has yet to catch on in a big way in the US. Is this the nudge mobile payment needs? If so, I hope more planning is going into mobile payment considering the similarities it has with Chip & PIN today. I've yet to see anyone pay with mobile.
Until mobile makes everything perfect, brands should look to offset this collective ending-on-a-bad-note at check-outs by ensuring its high touchpoints (the pleasurable experiences) vastly outweigh the low touchpoints (unpleasant check-out experience). It’s about finding the right touchpoints, and right frequency. This is where a customized thinkTrendless strategic instrument adds value to CX initiatives by identifying the unique experience touchpoints that amplify your brand and product attributes (high touchpoint, pleasurable experiences) throughout the customer’s end-to-end journey and experience.