Ten main Insights Into Customer Behavior to follow in 2015

How well do you know your customers?

That was a trick question. However, being successful in sales requires much more than applying the tried and true tricks. We scouted the latest scientific research into the psychology of customer buying behavior – and found the following 10 nuggets of wisdom you can start using right away:

1. Customers value “Good” service over “Fast” service.

Stop rushing when interacting with your customer – you are making the customer experience worse and damaging your brand value. Recent studies show that customers who receive competent, knowledgeable and an all-encompassing service are more likely to remember their experience and tell their friends. Additionally, customers cited “rude, incompetent and rushed” service as their #1 reason to abandon a brand, 18% more often than a “slow” service. If the goal is to create strong bonds that ensure customer retention, companies must focus on activities that create and sustain the customer relationships, not just on those that enhance service delivery efficiency. More from Gallup

2. Customers love Personalization – and happily pay more for it.

In a study from the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, researchers were to increase the average tips that waiters received by over 23% (without changing service quality). They accomplished this by having waiters follow up with a second set of mints after bringing customers their check (waiters who brought mints but didn’t follow up received 7% less for their tips). More from Wiley

3. Customers will remember you if you can remember their name.

Speaking of personalization, according to research examining brain activation, few sounds sound as pleasant as hearing our own names. Fact is, people are more attentive (and interested) when they hear their names; be sure your business takes advantage of getting to know your customers by using their names when appropriate. More from the National Institute of Health

4. There are few things customers talk more about than a pleasant surprise.

One of the most lasting (and talked about) customer experiences is a pleasant surprise: reciprocity, especially when unexpected, is a very powerful force. At Zappos this was recognized early on: without so much as a single mention, Zappos regularly used to upgrade customer orders to overnight shipping free of charge. Not only did this brighten customers’ day, but also helped nurture fierce brand loyalty. More from Harvard Business Review

5. Creating goodwill with customers doesn’t have to be expensive.

The concept of “Frugal WOWs” is important to small businesses: creating goodwill with customers has proven to be more about the act, rather than the cost. Nate Ru, founder of Sweetgreen restaurants, regularly has his employees leave small gift cards next to cars with parking tickets to create memorable brand based on random acts of kindness. More from the New York Times

6. Customer Loyalty programs work better when they are pre-loaded with a bonus.

Consumer psychologists Dreze & Nunes were able to reveal just what makes a loyalty program “stick” across industries in their now infamous car-wash study. The researchers were able to show that customers are TWICE as likely to stick with loyalty programs if the programs appear to already have started (say, with 2 out of 10 steps to a free bonus already achieved), proving that tasks that seem to be under way are much more likely to be completed. Link to the Artificial Advancement Study.

7. Brand storytelling is effective in increasing sales.

Research by Melanie Green & Timothy Brock reveals that a well-told story is one of the most persuasive forms of writing (or speaking) available. They conduced that this was because stories have the ability to “transport” us to another place, allowing brands to leave powerful (and lasting) messages to customers.

8. Customers are your best source of innovation ideas.

MIT’s Eric von Hippe conducted a study with the Institute of Management Sciences on the relationship of “lead users” (superstar customers) and company innovation. The study of 1,193 commercially successful innovations across 9 industries discovered that 60% of ideas came from customers. More about Lead Users on Vimeo.
Low Price is Forgotten Fast Customers Quickly Forget the Joy of Paying a Low Price

9. When in doubt, always emphasize Time Well Spent or even Time Saved – over Money.

There’s a reason why inexpensive beer companies promote having a good time (ie, “It’s Miller Time!”) rather than their low prices.Research from Stanford reveals that customers have more favorable feelings towards brands they associate “time well spent” with; memories of good times – and of time saved by the product use – were more powerful than memories of great savings. Research summary.

10. Be careful when mentioning Money (either saved or spent) – it may backfire!

Customer behavior analysis by psychologist Kathleen Vohs has found that when people are “primed” with images of money, they become more self-interested and less willing to help others. This reaction can be used by businesses that sell luxury items, but can backfire with promotions that are associated with doing things for others (ex: Mother’s Day gifts). Link to study.

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