Category Archives: Product Development
Marketing and Customer Experience: 6 Core Emotional Needs That Shape Human Behaviour (Part 2 – Control)
If you read the first post of this series you may remember that Mark Ingwer in his book Empathetic Marketing asserts that there are 6 core emotional needs of customers: control, self-expression, growth, recognition, belonging, and care. In this post I share my thoughts and Mark’s assertions-insights regarding the primary emotional need: CONTROL.
Satisfying the need for control provides the best access for building customer loyalty
Mark Ingwer is bold in his assertion when it comes to the need for control and the access it provides the smart business:
… satisfying the control needs of the consumer, more than any individual need discussed in this book, holds the most potential for a company to build loyalty to a brand, product, or service through intrinsic motivation, which is the internal sense of satisfaction with the purchasing process and the resulting purchase.
Through the iPod and iTunes, Apple handed control of music over to the music listener. Through the iPhone, iPad and the apps store, Apple handed over much more control over these devices to the user such that each iPhone, each iPad, can truly be customised to the user by the user. Please notice the genius here. By handing so much control over to the user and making it easy for the user to exercise this control, Apple has created a context where each iPhone, iPad is unique and thus irreplaceable. Hence, the value if iCloud.
Why is the need for control such a vital need?
Think for a moment about the last time that you did not have any control over an important aspect of your life. What showed up for you in your body? What emotions surfaced? Was it a pleasant experience? An experience you want to repeat? If you are human then it is likely that this experience was a deeply unsettling one when it occurred. Here’s what Mark Ingwer says on this matter
The need for control fuels our motivation in every aspect of our lives. Positioned near the individuality pole of the needs continuum, control is essential to our every day functioning. We see how this need influences our lives most profoundly when we’re not in control. Some of life’s worst and most stressful predicaments are colored by feelings of helplessness – events in which we are unable to prevent or alter the inevitable.
I invite you to consider the direction of human progress. Is this progress, as in increasing control over that which showed up an threatening for us or made life uncertain or merely difficult? Do you doubt that our ideal, even if unstated, is to have complete dominion (control) over that which shows up on planet Earth. And then our galaxy and eventually the universe. Why might this be? Here’s Mark Ingwer again:
Many situations that fall outside the purview of personal agency hit us in the gut. We feel insecure. We feel small. We fear losing control. And we strive to regain that control. Not only does that loss of control prevent us from achieving our specific outcomes, but it is also often wrenching evidence that signifies our relative insignificance in a large (and largely random) universe.
When we feel in control of external events, in control of ourselves, and in control of our core relationships, we have a broader and more satisfying feeling of contentment and confidence …. we can’t grow as individuals without attending properly to this need.
Customer service and the power of control
Why is it that I do most of my shopping online and do all of my banking online? Because I experience being in control of the shopping process, the banking process. Why is it that I dread having to call up most call-centres? Because, even before I pick up the call I expect a long-tedious-unpleasant experience where I am at the mercy of the IVR, long waiting times, call-centre agents who lack the expertise-will-freedom to actually help me ….. Here is what Mark Ingwer says on the matter:
Nothing reveals the power of control – and the destructive power of lack of control – than customer service situations. Companies that sell services or routinely interact with their customers in service settings must pay special attention to a customer’s sense of control.
Poor customer service results when proxy control is ineffective. If the proxy does not behave as the customer desires, the customer loses control of the situation.
If you are wondering what proxy control is then think about wanting to do your banking online and finding that the website is out of operation. Or imagine needing cash, turning up at the ATM and finding that it is out of order and there are no other ATMs available. Or imagine, ringing up the call-centre and coming face to face with an call-centre agent who speaks with an accent you find hard to understand. Or imagine going to the restaurant with the family, having eaten your meal, finding your young ones tired, looking for a waiter to pay the bill, and the waiter seems to take forever to come back to take your payment. You are desperate to go home and yet cannot do so until the waiter comes over to you and takes your payment.
What advice does Mark Ingwer have for marketers and customer experience specialists?
What I like about Mark Ingwer’s book is the practical suggestions that he provides at the end of each chapter. Here is his advice for marketers and customer experience specialists, as it shows up for me:
1. Review your core marketing message. It should say to customers: you can be in the driver’s seat – assuming products and service can deliver.
2. Examine the customers’ experience. Are prospects and customers in control throughout the path to the final sale and afterwards?
3. Simply after-sales processes.
If you want to learn more about these practical recommendations then you will have to buy the book and read it as I do not want to give away Mark’s secrets and deprive him of readers for his book.
If you remember only one sentence then remember this one
It occurs to me that when it comes to the end to end customer experience then this is the one sentence that captures it all when it comes to the human need for control:
From start to finish, customers must never sense that they are at the mercy of a company or product.
The last time I was in such a situation I walked out of the cinema, choosing not to watch a film that I really wanted to watch, rather than be at the mercy of the cinema and its staff.
In the next post, I will cover the human need for self-expression. It occurs to me whole industries are based on this need. I thank you for your listening.
My primary interest is human beings. The value that I most value is empathy. I find myself moved by the kindness-connection-helpfulness that flows when empathy is present. I have noticed breakthroughs in relationship often generate breakthroughs in performance. Which is why I was happy to take up the offer to read-review-share Mark Ingwer’s book Empathetic Marketing.
Let’s start with a passage that gets to the heart of the challenge:
The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
- Daniel Goleman, Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self Deception
What is it that we fail to notice? I say that we fail to notice that human beings are not just automatons, computing algorithms, merely rational beings. We fail to notice that human beings are emotional-rational-social-embodied human beings. And this has consequences for how we treat customers, treat employees, treat suppliers, treat ourselves. It has consequences for the quality of our relationships and our performance.
Mark Ingwer says we fail to notice the nuances that make us human
What does business psychologist Mark Ingwer say? He says:
What we fail to notice is the powerful effect of our unconscious on behavior and personalities.… To truly understand why people say what they say and do what they do, we must look at the psychodynamic context surrounding consumer decisions.
…. when faced with many options and advertisements ….. we often decide what’s best for us by gravitating towards what feels right (or frequently away from what feels wrong).
Even when they claim to desire lifetime relationships with their clients and customers, many businesses tactically distance themselves from the humanity of their interactions. The systemic nature of marketing and business strategy inadvertently depersonalises their audience by using language that groups customers into market segments and targets. People are commonly referred to as “buyers,” shoppers,” “payers,” “non responders,” “early adopters,” and “eyeballs.” But too often what is lost is the nuance that makes them human.
Why does this matter? It matters because when we do not keep ‘the nuance that makes us human’ at front and centre of our business decisions then we create products and services which flop. We spend fortunes in business to get people to buy our products – become customers – and then we neglect their emotional needs for the rest of the ‘customer journey’. This is what Mark Ingwer says:
I contend that emotions and resulting behaviours are the foundation for satisfying complex psychological needs…. And individual’s needs are satisfied when he or she is connected meaningfully to others, and through these connections comes to find his or her own unique value and identity. It is a ceaseless, evolving, lifelong endeavour.
.. businesses must have an intimate and conceptual framework for understanding these emotional needs and a passion for meeting them every step of the way.
The heart of the matter: putting full bodied humanity into business?
It occurs to me that Mark Ingwer is pointing at that which shows up for me as the heart of the challenge: putting humanity into business so that the one dimensional picture of human beings becomes alive in all of its many dimensions. There are three sentences in particular that resonates with me and I wish to share with you:
Physical needs create life and keep us living, whereas the emotional needs alluded to earlier are what make life worth living.
Meeting needs is not like climbing a mountain. It’s more akin …. to a lifelong game of tug-of-war.
We are beings in conflict, individuals attempting to engage with our many needs outwardly and subconsciously.
What are the fundamental needs that drive shape-drive human behaviour?
Which begs the question, what are these fundamental human needs that shape-drive human behaviour? Mark Ingwer calls attention to two needs in particular: individuality and connectedness. This is what he says:
Throughout life’s stages, we balance our primary needs for individuality and connectedness…… These two needs underlie most all human motives and serve as the polar forces of a needs satisfaction model, which I call the Needs Continuum.
Sitting on the left-hand side of the continuum, our need for individuality finds a way to sneak into almost all of our behaviour. Western society values the stalwart, self-reliant man….. We subconsciously take and borrow from every one of our relationships and connections in the world to arrive at a better sense of self.
Sitting at the opposite pole of the continuum, the need for connectedness moves hand in hand with individuality …… The need for connectedness motivates us to prioritise friends and family. We often want to buy higher quality goods and services ……. for them them than we do for ourselves. Connectedness …. defines our role as social beings. It’s impossible to live our lives without others with whom to share it. We must be cared for, loved, nurtured. We must be recognised. We must belong to something larger than ourselves.
We need to seek and achieve connectedness in order to thrive and truly know ourselves. Other people are mirrors through which we develop and sustain identity…..to be connected to others is to open the door to sustained personal growth and happiness.
On the continuum between individuality and connectedness are the following six core emotional needs: control, self-expression, growth, recognition, belonging, and care.
When approaching customers or prospects, a business must understand which of the six core needs its products or service addresses and then tailor its marketing and product development to best address that core need
In the next post on this series (based on Mark Ingwer’s book Empathetic Marketing) I will explore the powerful human need for control.
What is the central insight that arises from the discipline of systems and systems thinking? It is this
Everything is interconnected with everything else
You may be asking yourself, what has this to do with Customer Experience. Everything. For one it means that when one is up for architecting/designing/delivering the Customer Experience it is not enough to simply focus on the service delivered by Customer Services. Nor is it enough to look at interactions, touchpoints, and the front office functions of marketing, sales and customer service. These are the two essential facts that are not adequately grasped, at best, for many, they are simply platitudes. Let’s explore.
Horse meat scandal: Supermarkets battle to regain customer confidence
By now you must have heard that there is another scandal which started in the UK and now spans Europe. It is the horse meat scandal. According to the Telegraph, a pro business newspaper:
A hard-hitting report by MPs on Thursday said that the scale of contamination in the supermarket meat supply chain was “breathtaking”. The cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said that consumers had been “cynically and systematically duped”, as “elements in the food chain” had pursued profits by substituting beef for cheaper horse meat.
And if that is not enough, the same piece goes on to say:
Although blame for the contamination lies with suppliers rather than retailers, one long-serving senior supermarket executive described the situation as “pandemonium”. “I was around for foot-and-mouth and BSE and this feels like it’s on that scale,”
Think about the Customer Experience. Has the experience of customers been affected negatively by the scandal? Here is what the Telegraph newspapers says:
Shoppers already appear to be voting with their feet. Meat sales in independent family-run butchers and farm shops have risen by 75pc in some areas while analysts believe sales of cheaper processed meat in supermarkets have fallen sharply. A survey found that almost half of all shoppers will avoid buying processed meat from affected supermarkets.
Ask yourself what has changed? Specifically, what customer interaction, touchpoint, and experience at that touchpoint has changed? It occurs to me that from a functional touchpoint view nothing has changed. So how is it that the Customer Experience has changed? From a customer viewpoint everything has changed. They have found that they cannot trust the supermarkets. And as such the Customer Experience of supermarkets, at least when it comes to buying meat, has been impacted negatively.
What specifically does the horse meat scandal unconceal for us? I say that it unconceals the importance of the supply chain in so far as it impacts the ‘product’ that is offered to the customer. Hold that thought.
Amazon scandal: using neo-Nazi guards to keep workforce under control?
Can you exclude examining the supply chain, as a part of your Customer Experience effort, if it does not impact the quality of the product which touches the customer? The obvious answer appears to be yes. I say you might just want to think again. Why?
I am an Amazon customer and up to now I have been neutral about the values/impact of Amazon. As such I have bought a lot of stuff from Amazon over the years. Now, I am conflicted. Over the past few days the desire to buy several products has shown up and yet I have not found myself able to buy. Why? Because I have been given a glimpse into the supply chain practices of Amazon. And what I stand for in this world conflicts with what Amazon is up to in its supply chain. According to this Independent article:
Amazon is at the centre of a deepening scandal in Germany as the online shopping giant faced claims that it employed security guards with neo-Nazi connections to intimidate its foreign workers.
Germany’s ARD television channel made the allegations in a documentary about Amazon’s treatment of more than 5,000 temporary staff from across Europe to work at its German packing and distribution centres.
The film showed omnipresent guards from a company named HESS Security wearing black uniforms, boots and with military haircuts. They were employed to keep order at hostels and budget hotels where foreign workers stayed. “Many of the workers are afraid,” the programme-makers said.
7 Customer Experience lessons
I say one should not waste the insight that comes from these scandals. So I offer you 7 lessons that show up for me as result of these scandals and my work on Customer Experience.
1. Clearly Customer Experience, as a construct and as a discipline, is more than simply the service delivered by the Customer Services function.
2. Customer Experience is more than individual, or even the sum of, customer interactions with the company at touch points via specific channels.
3. Customer Experience is the delivery of the promise (value proposition) and the fulfilment of customer expectations across the complete customer life-cycle.
4. The product or service that draws the customer to purchase is a core/critical part of the Customer Experience and cannot simple be taken for granted and ignored. I wrote a while ago that the Customer Experience folks cannot simply ignore the product.
5. The supply chain matters as it impacts the Customer Experience, as such it cannot simply be ignored by those of us working on the Customer Experience.
6. Everything is connected to everything else. This means that what happens in the ‘back office’ or ‘out of sight’ of the customer, including HR practices and technology decisions, indirectly impacts the Customer Experience.
7. To excel and compete at Customer Experience one needs to get that Customer Experience has to be the organising doctrine for the whole organisation- it has to be a way of life for every person, every part of the organisation including its supply chain and channel partners.
It occurs to me that it is worth sharing this lesson. It is lesson that is not appreciated nor heeded especially by the Tops. It is a lesson that comes from the nature of systems:
One cannot escape indefinitely the long-term consequences of short-term orientated behaviour. Or as my father taught me at the age of 5, if you ‘steal’ then expect to get caught sooner or later.
In this post I continue the conversation which I began with the last post.
Warning: don’t collapse ‘job to be done’ with customer needs
How did the philosopher Heidegger put it? Yes, he pointed out that you/I always approach that which shows up in our lives with an already existing horizon of understanding. Put simply, that means that our default way of being is such that we use our existing ‘frame of reference’ to make sense of the new. Which means that we will distort the new to fit into the old and thus squeeze all value out of the new. And I have noticed that some of you have collapsed ‘job to be done’ with ‘customer needs’. No, no, no. They are distinct even if they are related – think about the two sides of a coin. If you don’t get that now, you will by the end of his post provided you keep an open mind. Let’s listen to Clayton Christensen.
Milkshake: Cheaper? Chunkier? Chocolatier?
In his book How Will You Measure Your Life? Clayton Christensen writes that that a big restaurant chain wanted to increase sales of their milkshakes. So the company spent months studying this issue. It bought in customers who fit the profile of the milkshake consumer and asked them all sorts of questions. Questions like:
- Can you tell us what we need to do to improve our milkshakes so you would buy more of our milkshakes?
- Do you want them chocolatier? Cheaper? Chunkier?
Using this customer feedback the company worked and worked on making the milkshake better. The impact on sales? No impact on sales or profits whatsoever. I say you might want to really hear this and make a note of it before your rush out, gather feedback and get busy making changes.
One of Clayton Christensen’s colleagues looked at the situation and brought a completely difference perspective to the matter at hand. He asked the following question:
“I wonder what job arises in people’s lives that causes them to come to this restaurant to ‘hire’ a milkshake?”
This question opened up a new domain of enquiry. Clayton’s colleagues stood in a restaurant hours on end observing – paying careful attention to what was happening: “What time did people buy these milkshakes? What were they wearing? Were they alone? Did they buy other food with it? Did they eat it in the restaurant or drive off with it?”
What did they find? They found that nearly 50% of the milkshakes were bought in the early morning. And they were bought by adults who were almost always on their own. It was almost the only product they bought and almost all of them got in a car and drove off with their milkshake.
On another morning, as customer left with milkshake in hand, Clayton’s colleagues asked them questions designed to elicit the job that these customers were hiring the milkshake to do. What did they find? They found that these customers had a long boring ride to work. “They needed something to keep the commute interesting. They weren’t really hungry yet, but they knew that in a couple of hours, they’d face a midmorning stomach rumbling.”
What else did Clayton’s colleagues learn? They learnt that customers had hired bananas, doughnuts, bagels, candy bars. And the milkshake was the best product for the job. Why? “It took a long time to finish a thick milkshake with that thin straw. And it was substantial enough to ward off the looming midmorning hunger attack”.
Was this the end of the breakthrough insights? No. Clayton and his colleagues discovered that the same product – milkshake – was hired for a fundamentally different job. ”Instead of commuters, the people who were coming in to buy milkshakes in the afternoon were typically fathers.…… I recognised that I had been one of those dads…. and I had the same job to do when in that situation. I’d been looking for something innocuous to which I could say “yes”, to make me feel like a kind and loving father.”
Who well did the milkshake do the job that the fathers hired it to do? Not well at all. Observations showed the children would take a long time to finish the thick milkshake through the thin straw. And after a while the fathers would become impatient to leave and so half the milkshake would be get thrown away.
What is the profound learning here?
I cannot do better than Clayton Christensen so let me share his words with you:
“If our fast food chain asked me, “So Clay…. how can we improve the milkshake so that you’ll buy more of them? Thicker? Sweeter? Bigger?” I wouldn’t know what to say, because I hire it for two fundamentally different jobs…. when they averaged up the responses ……demographic segment that has highest proclivity to buy milkshakes….. to develop a one-size-fits-none product that doesn’t do either job well.
On the other hand, if you understand that there are two different jobs that the milkshake is being hired to do, it becomes obvious how to improve the milkshake. The morning job needs a more viscous milkshake, which takes even longer to suck up. You might add in chunks of fruit – but not to make it healthy, because that’s not the reason it’s being hired…..And, finally, you’d wheel the dispensing machine out from behind the counter to the front, install a prepaid swipe-card so that commuters could run in, gas up and go……
The afternoon make-me-feel-good-about-being-a-parent job is fundamentally different. Maybe the afternoon milkshake could come in half sizes; be less thick……”
Words of wisdom
I wholeheartedly agree with Clayton Christensen’s words of wisdom:
“There is no one right answer for all circumstances. You have to start by understanding the job the customer is trying to have done.”