Here’s the Customer Psychology You’ve Shown You Care About, Marketers

Customer psychology helps marketers design campaigns. Emotion drives many purchases, even in B2B circles. And considering all I write about is customer psychology, let’s look at what aspects of it interested you the most during these past six months.

Customer psychology helps marketers design campaigns. Emotion drives many purchases, even in B2B circles. And considering all I write about is customer psychology, let’s look at what aspects of it interested you the most during these past six months.

The science behind this analysis is based on posts you’ve clicked on and read, according to Target Marketing’s site analytics. These appear to be persistent favorites, as I only published one of them during the past six months. So you’ve been interested in and reading these posts for awhile — one since 2016. Parse.ly says these are the top posts you’ve read, marketers:

‘Persuasive Copy That Sells: It’s Not About the Words’

This opinion piece from Jan. 15 is your clear favorite, with almost four times as many hits as No. 4, “3 Customer Experience Tips for Marketers to Reduce Churn.”

So the psychology behind how you communicate with your customers is top-of-mind for marketers.

The column says:

“Smart consumers don’t believe marketing any more. We’ve used those lines way too long and not delivered on promises we’ve made. Conscious choices are built upon values, personality and giving natures of brands.”

Among the post’s 17 comments, many of which disagreed with me, is this from “Tony, the Pitiful Copywriter”:

“I find it easier to test and measure the results of an offer than a touchy-feely campaign. Don’t get me wrong, those campaigns are cool and moving the needle forward for someone. At the end of the day (hate that phrase), I gotta sell stuff to customers.”

He has a point. But that point may be missing the big picture. My response was:

“Hi Tony, thanks for reading and commenting. Traditional marketing will never go away. At the same time, the ROI and response will never be what it was years ago; and I don’t believe it will match the results we get now from highly relevant, psychologically based marketing [campaigns]. I see it in my own work. My copy that engages what matters deep in a person’s psyche has produced 20-year champions for brands across B2B and B2C. Price engages, of course; but not as much as it used to … Just read Cone Communications’ reports on how it matters less than CSR to about 90% of consumers today.”

‘What’s Your Brand Schema?’ 

This post from Nov. 1, 2016, is No. 2.

This is still true:

“Chances are, you don’t know what I’m talking about and creating your brand schema has never been a line item on your marketing to-do list. Yet in today’s cluttered word of information overload, understanding schema is more critical than polishing your content, engagement and customer service strategies. True, because if you don’t understand the schema that drives the attitudes, beliefs and interest in your brand, your other programs simply won’t work.

“So what is schema? Simply put, psychologists define our collective preconceived ideas about just about anything as schema or our mental framework of thoughts, attitudes, beliefs that drive our values and behavior. Our schemas produce automatic thoughts on which our opinions and beliefs are built, and no amount of evidence can change our minds. Just like Facebook posts, political speeches and debates don’t change our voting choices, brands’ promises, messages and claims don’t change our attitudes or propensity to engage if they don’t meet our ‘reality,’ which is based upon what we choose to believe vs. what brands want us to believe. As mentioned in last month’s post on marketing messages falling on deaf ears, we even choose which scientific evidence to believe and what not to believe.

“For marketing purposes, schema is your customers’ ‘reality’ vs. your own. And when the two don’t twine, you spend a lot of time effort and money on marketing that just doesn’t produce results that will reach your company’s goals and advance your individual career. Not good, either way.”

‘The Psychology of Rewards’

Marketers have evolved loyalty programs a lot since my post from Aug. 15, 2017. But customers’ motivations for joining the programs haven’t changed.

Extrinsic motivation, or our behavior which is driven by the anticipation of being rewarded by others for engaging in specific behaviors, drives much of the choices we make in life — how we perform our jobs and what products we chose to buy.

“And down deep, that motivation is linked to what I’ve said before is our greatest psychological driver: our survival DNA. Unconsciously, rewards help us feel like we are getting closer to that place in life where we have what we need to survive the daily battle to fulfill needs and wants that propel us ahead of the pack.”

‘3 Customer Experience Tips for Marketers to Reduce Churn’

Even though customers are telling brands that customer experience is more and more important to them, they’re becoming less and less satisfied with how well marketers are providing these experiences.

The post from May 7 cites research from Qualtrics-owned Temkin Group and my interview with David Morris, CMO of Proformex, marketing advisor to Resilience Capital, and respected authority on SaaS marketing.

He says:

“We spend thousands of dollars and huge amounts of time marketing to customers, and in some cases, a year or more to convert a lead to a customer. And then we lose a customer in a matter of months. When this happens, you spend a lot more money getting customers than you get back in revenue, and that is not a sustainable way to operate a business.”

Conclusion

Based on all of this, it seems as though marketers are serious about understanding their customers. This is good news for everyone. Because I love talking with you about customer psychology. Is there anything I haven’t covered that you’d like to talk about? I’ll read your suggestions in the comments section below.

The Cost Marketing Pays When Sales Misuses the CRM

Bad things happen when sales reps ignore all of the insights their organization’s marketers place in the CRM system. From management not being able to discern how pipeline strength correlates to sales activity to them simply focusing on closed deals, erasing CRM’s impact on the sales cycle has consequences.

Bad things happen when sales reps ignore all of the insights their organization’s marketers place in the CRM system. From management not being able to discern how pipeline strength correlates to sales activity to them simply focusing on closed deals, erasing CRM’s impact on the sales cycle has consequences. In this post, we will explore why CRM misuse occurs, what the consequences are and what marketers can do about this issue.

First, a CRM Tale of Woe

Many years ago, I worked for a firm with more than $100 million in annual revenue. There, the worldwide sales VP refused to review the pipeline and sales forecast from the CRM system in the weekly sales call with his regional management. Instead, he had Excel spreadsheets his staff maintained for him. I urged him to use the beautiful reports and graphs in the CRM system, to no avail.

He didn’t believe the data. It’s a catch-22.

The problem with leaders not using the system and positioning the data as the single source of truth is that it forgives the teams from having to enter data into the system, and so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. The result is sales reps don’t add opportunities until the leads were much more advanced, at Stage 5 or 6, and thus avoided any management scrutiny over their nascent deals. Sales management gave them kudos for bringing in bluebirds (unanticipated deals), and the reps got the data in the system just in time to ensure they get their commissions.

Consequences of Underutilizing the CRM

The outcomes for marketers and organizations of management allowing sales reps to largely operate outside the CRM are:

  1. No visibility into the early sales pipeline.
  2. Management focuses entirely on the incipient closed deals.
  3. Marketing cannot differentiate between contacts who are in a purchase cycle from those who are window-shopping.
  4. Sales management cannot connect sales activity to pipeline strength.
  5. Marketing operations does not get feedback on successful campaigns until late in the buyer journey.
  6. Sales reps use the system largely to ensure they get commissions
  7. Sales reps might put activity (calls, meetings, tasks) in the CRM to ensure they drive a perception that they are busy, but might still not add opportunities until the last moment, and otherwise don’t use the system.
  8. Sales reps fail to take advantage of all of the recorded digital interactions prospects have had and are dutifully reporting the lead/contact record.

Running a business effectively requires the earliest visibility possible into the sales pipeline. It enables sales management to quickly see if new reps are working out, marketing analytics can pinpoint which programs are sourcing the best leads, what campaigns are moving leads along the funnel, which products are hot, which regions are soft, which reps need more training, etc. So, allowing the reps to not use the CRM until opportunities are well-advanced has many downsides.

The CRM system is the basis for tracking and enabling sales workflows in the same way a marketing automation platform enables marketing workflows. Prospects have workflows, too, as part of their buyer journey.

These three workflows are interconnected. Prospects interact with marketing content and online properties. Sales interacts with prospects via email and telephone calls. And marketing can interact with the sales workflow by providing visibility to the prospects’ digital interactions and helping move prospects along their buyer journey. Marketing does this by varying how they market to prospects based on their opportunity stage, for instance.

If CRM is lightly used by sales reps, they break the connection of these three workflows, and run the risk of marketing and sales looking uncoordinated in their communications to prospects and lowering productivity of both organizations, resulting in poor customer experiences.

Steps to get Sales Reps Fully Utilizing CRM

  1. Ensure they understand the value to them (WIIFM)
  2. Add more value to the CRM system. For example:
    • Enrich the contact/account data
    • Add plugins, like LinkedIn
    • Route new leads only through CRM
    • Enable sales reps to opt “not-ready” prospects into specific nurturing campaigns
    • Enable salespeople to send trackable emails through the CRM
    • Provide beautiful HTML trackable email templates for specific content
  3. Get sales management to agree that ALL pipeline reviews at all levels of sales management will be conducted using CRM reports, not Excel or another tool.
  4. Create reports that highlight the biggest users and the biggest non-users of the system
  5. Create reports on most recent and least recent contact/account updates by owner

Conclusion

When marketing and sales coordinate on communications with prospects and customers, magic can happen. When sales breaks that chain of communication by failing to fully utilize the CRM system, they isolate marketing from pipeline generation success metrics and ignore the digital body language of the people they are most hoping to impress — prospective customers.

Media Outlook 2019: Spell Marketing with a ‘D’

The January marketing calendar in New York has included for the past decade or so a certain can’t-miss event of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. In 60 fly-by minutes, 100-plus advertising and marketing professionals hear a review of the previous year in marketing spend, a media outlook for the current year and macro-economic trends driving both.

The January marketing calendar in New York has included for the past decade or so a certain can’t-miss event of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. In 60 fly-by minutes, 100-plus advertising and marketing professionals hear a review of the previous year in marketing spend, a media outlook for the current year and macro-economic trends driving both.

Bruce Biegel, senior managing director at Winterberry Group, keeps everyone engaged, taking notes and thinking about their own experiences in the mix of statistics regarding digital, mobile, direct mail, TV and programmatic advertising.

“We will be OK if we can manage the Shutdown, Trump, China, Mueller, Congress and Brexit,” he noted, all of which weigh on business confidence.

Suffice it to say, marketing organizations and business, in general must navigate an interesting journey. Biegel reports estimated U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 2.3 percent in 2019 down from 3 percent in 2018, while total marketing spending growth in 2018 had dipped below its historic level of exceeding two times GDP growth.

In 2019, we are poised for 5.3 percent growth in advertising and marketing spending a slight gain from the 5.2 percent growth of 2018 over 2017.

Watch the Super Bowl, By All Means But Offline Dominance Is Diminishing

Look under the hood, and you see what the big drivers are. Offline spending including sponsorships, linear TV, print, radio, outdoor and direct mail will spot anemic growth, combined, of 0.1 percent in 2019. (Of these, direct mail and sponsorships will each post growth of more than 3 percent, Winterberry Group predicts.)

But online spending growth display, digital video, social, email, digital radio, digital out-of-home, and search will grow by 15.5 percent. Has offline media across all categories finally reached its zenith? Perhaps. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1.

Credit: Winterberry Group, 2019

Digital media spend achieved 50 percent of offline media spend for the first time in 2018. In 2019, it may reach 60 percent! So who should care?

We do! We are the livers and breathers of data, and data is in the driver’s seat. Biegel sees data spending growing by nearly 6 percent this year totaling $21.27 billion. Of this, $9.66 billion will be offline data spending, primarily direct mail. TV data spending (addressable, OTT) will reach $1.8 billion, digital data $7.85 billion, and email data spend $1.96 billion (see Figure 2.)

Figure 2.

Credit: Winterberry Group, 2019

Tortured CMOs: Unless She’s a Data Believer

Marketing today and tomorrow is not marketing yesterday. If marketing leadership does not recognize and understand data’s contribution to ad measurement, attribution and business objective ROI, then it’s time for a new generation to lead and succeed. Marketing today is spelled with a D: Data-Driven.

Unfortunately we don’t have all the data we need to manage Shutdown, Trump, China, Mueller, Congress and Brexit. That’s where sheer luck and gut instincts may still have a valid role. Sigh.

How Optimum Healthcare IT Is Building a Tech Stack on a Budget

No matter the size of their company, every marketer charged with building out a technology stack is inevitably limited by their allocated tech budget. No one can buy all the new shiny tools all at one time, so marketers need to make savvy tech choices – the right technology at the right time and right price.

Over the past couple of years, Larry Kaiser, VP of Marketing for Optimum Healthcare IT, has put together a martech stack using a budget-conscious approach to serve his company’s marketing efforts. Kaiser and his team created a website that could act as the focal point of Optimum’s content marketing strategy, acting as the engine for serving up content that demonstrates thought leadership in the market and attracts and converts leads.

Below Kaiser talks about the starting point for his martech strategy and aspirations for evolving his toolset in the future.

Larry Kaiser, VP of Marketing, Optimum Healthcare IT

Kaiser will be speaking at the upcoming FUSE Digital Marketing Summit, presenting on “How Optimum Healthcare IT Built A Scalable Tech Stack on A Budget.” Learn about other session at the summit here.  

What have been some of the mission-critical objectives that have guided your technology strategy?

It comes down to the vision that you have put in place and the steps that will get you there. When I started at Optimum Healthcare IT, we had a very old website built on an out-of-date platform. Our online presence was not built for content or to market our organization. Optimum is a healthcare IT services firm and the best way to promote your services, your knowledge, and your people is through thought leadership. We needed to build a website that would support a blog, gated content, etc. This was our first step towards the vision that I was laying out. From there, almost everything we do begins with our website and how we deliver our content.

Can you give examples of some technology upgrades you’ve made that you think have been smart moves?

Going back to our website, originally it was built on an extremely outdated version of Drupal. The smartest move we made was moving to WordPress. I did not have the budget to go out and hire a professional firm to build the website, so it was a DIY project. My very skilled creative director designed it, and we had to find someone to build it. We ended up utilizing a designer based in Croatia that came recommended from a close contact of mine. He built our site with a custom theme, which in hindsight, was not the best move as it caused issues as we grew.  But we came through it and now have a fantastic public facing website.

How do you anticipate your tech stack evolving as your company grows and marketing team advances?

As Optimum continues to grow, I see our tech stack moving to more advanced applications with additional functionality. We currently do not utilize a true CRM, and I would love for us to move to one. I was really impressed with a customer data platform vendor about a year ago, and I would love to incorporate that technology. Moving from Mailchimp to a more advanced marketing automation system would also be high on my list. To justify these costs, my team and I continue to build and deliver content and work hard to increase the consumption of our content. As we continue to show the value that is gained from what we are delivering, I hope that we can build a more advanced tech stack.

Are Your Data Decisions Sending the Right Message?

The old way of “house-holding” is relevant when making household purchases, like cable service. But, it’s not relevant with making individual purchases, like shoes. Today even a 3-year-old child has a say in the type of shoes they wear. We like to think of the new way to view the household as the Intelligent Household where each person in the household is treated like an individual and each consumer journey matters. Separately. Individually.

How much thought have you given to the act of “house-holding” your data? Quite possibly a lot. Grouping customers together into “family units” is known as house-holding. This is done for at least one important reason — savings. After all, treating the individuals within a household uniquely seems pretty expensive. But, at what cost does this savings come? Understanding a customer’s household is a big part of your data driven marketing efforts.

The Data Driven Decision of Intelligent House-Holding

The old way of “house-holding” is relevant when making household purchases, like cable service. But, not with making individual purchases, like shoes. Today even a 3-year-old child has a say in the type of shoes they wear.

We like to think of the new way to view the household as the Intelligent Household where each person in the household is treated like an individual and each consumer journey matters. Separately. Individually.

Gender Identity Matters in Marketing and Data, Too

Here are two ways to consider – or reconsider – your approach to house-holding data for both digital and print impact.

1.) The impact of gender differences on response

With all of the brands dedicated to serving only-women (and there are even some few focused on only-men) it got us to thinking. Do men and women respond at the same rate to the same things (when the product and service applies equally to both)? After all, they are both people — and we are making our best creative appeals to people without any particular bias.

Surprise! There is a difference. And, at least for some of our work, the difference is not small. Certainly not small enough to overlook. It’s a whole new data-driven discovery.

When you consider the fact that it is far more common for women to be “house-holded” within the name of the man of the household and when you consider the fact that women often make the purchasing decisions, this does not yield an optimized approach.

Instead, why not seek to identify the ways you can make a creative appeal more to each gender and try it. For example, women are more hungry for information, background and rationale – and may be more skeptical of promises. There’s a lot of good data and research that supports this direction — and I’m abbreviating it here.

2.) The loss of a connection established

I struggled mightily for how to phrase this one. Here’s what I mean. I have a certain brand to which I am quite faithful. I make many purchases within this particular brand — spend more than my fair share on their products, and I own their credit card, solely in my name. My husband also favors the same brand. His name is not on my credit card, and he does not have one of his own. Yes, he buys things at the same place, but not with the same account and not with one of their store cards. Yet, when I go to MY page on their site, I have been house-holded — based on some fancy data work that they no doubt worked hard to manipulate. After all, we both do make purchases and we do live at the same address.

“Hello, Spyro!” it greets me cheerfully when I land on the profile page of my account, where he has never once made a purchase.

At what cost does this slick data manipulation come? Well, loyalty, I’m afraid. And reputation. I’m not exactly thrilled with this, and neither is he. He gets served up recommendations for teenage girl clothes and my identity is seemingly lost — or at the very best, hidden. Not ideal. And frankly, it doesn’t make them seem very smart.

As marketers we know it is important to value your clients and demonstrate that value in ways large and small. I sincerely doubt that this brand is even aware of the impact this (likely operationally-driven) act. Yet this simple mistake adds-up to ignoring people who spend money. Ouch.

This particular house-holding offers no advantage — there is no savings in the bill or statement sent, so I doubt due diligence was paid to the change. Once my page was mine. And now it’s not.

What ways have you seen gender differences impact your marketing efforts?

GDPR Leads Brands to Better CX

A year ago, most companies had no clue where all of their customer data resided, let alone whether or not it was secure. With the implementation of GDPR, and California’s digital privacy law scheduled to take effect in January 2020, companies have started taking their customer and prospect data, and its security, much more seriously.

A year ago, most companies had no clue where all of their customer data resided, let alone whether or not it was secure. With the implementation of GDPR, and California’s digital privacy law scheduled to take effect in January 2020, companies have started taking their customer and prospect data, and its security, much more seriously.

Most organizations keep their customer data in a customer relationship management (CRM) database. However, prior to GDPR, the information was incomplete, the accuracy of the data was not taken seriously, and the data was not secure due to a lack of business process management and master data management policies.

Based on the interviews I have conducted with IT executives involved in databases, big data, AI/ML and security, there has been a significant change in the past year; whereby, companies are now implementing and enforcing data management best practices and creating data Centers of Excellence. Employees are learning the importance of data and its security.

Given that a well-maintained CRM is necessary to deliver a great customer experience (CX), we can expect to see companies begin taking CX seriously, because they are getting their data in order and their competitors will begin using that data to deliver improved CX. We’re now in a race to see who can use data first and best to improve the CX.

Updated privacy policies and security protocols will increase the opportunity to deliver personalized and relevant information of value. In addition to getting consumers’ explicit permission to communicate with their customers and prospects, organizations will want to enact progressive profiling; whereby, they learn more about each customer or prospect every time they interact with your website or organization. The more you know about a customer, the more relevant you should be able to be to them by providing information of value while anticipating needs and wants.

Organizations need to learn what customers and prospects need and want to make their lives easier. This is key to building a disruptive business and earning a customer for life. Lyft has done this for me. Every time I need to travel to or from an airport, I no longer need taxis, rental cars or parking at the airport. Lyft has made my life traveling much simpler and easier. Lyft has earned a customer for life — or at least until its business model is disrupted.

A good CRM with proper data management processes is beneficial to organizations on several fronts:

1. The CRM serves as the repository for all customer data and enables customer-facing employees to have a 360-degree view of the customer so they understand the customer’s relationship with the company — interactions, products/services bought, considered, feedback. All customer-facing employees are able to see the actions that have taken place and know what actions need to take place in the future based on sales and CX processes.
2. Organizations are able to provide more relevant help and information; thereby, making customers’ lives simpler and easier. Some organizations, e.g. financial institutions, are already using predictive analytics to recommend the “next best action” for the customer to the employee.
3. The CRM can be integrated with calendars and marketing automation software for appropriate follow-up before and after a sale, for nurturing marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales qualified leads (SQLs) or to market to “lookalike” prospects.
4. The CRM provides real-time metrics enabling team members to see where prospects and customers are in the sales, post-sales, follow-up or problem/resolution cycle.
5. A sound CRM enables the organization to scale in a thoughtful way with proper data management, security and updates. Leveraging even more data to improve the CX.

How has GDPR affected your organization and its data management practices?

6 CX Best Practices That Aid in Customer Retention

Kudos to American Airlines for delivering a small, but very meaningful American Advantage upgrade — a great customer experience (CX). CX best practices like this aid in customer retention.

Kudos to American Airlines for delivering a small, but very meaningful American Advantage upgrade — a great customer experience (CX). CX best practices like this aid in customer retention.

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to take a number of flights to user conferences that I write about. I always request American, because it’s the primary airline at my airport and I have a lifetime membership in its Admiral’s Club, based on my travel a couple of lifetimes ago.

After months of boarding with Group Six or Seven and playing roulette with whether or not I’d be able to get my carry-on in an overhead bin, I just got bumped to the gold level. That lets me board with Group Four — assuring me I will not have to check my carry-on. Little things mean a lot.

American never asked me about how important this is to me, but it’s huge — to me. Every customer will want something different with regard to a great CX. For customer retention, it’s important to “listen intensely” to learn how you can deliver a better CX.

Here are six CX best practices that come to mind for B2C and B2B organizations:

Document Your CX Best Practices

What are you doing for different customers, different personas? How are customers responding when you go above and beyond? Are you getting the customer feedback you expect?

Start With Your CRM Database

Start with your CRM database, your master data management practices and your business process management. A great CRM is necessary for a great CX. Your customer-facing employees need to know what has taken place with this customer previously, so they can provide more personalized service.

By the way, poor CRM data quality, poor master data management and documentation of business process are consistent pain points for companies attempting to make the digital transformation that will be necessary to provide a great CX.

Emotionally Connect With Your Customers

Understand what it takes to make an emotional connection with your customers — empathy. How do you get it? By having a conversation with your customers and learning what you and your competition are doing to help make your customers’ lives simpler and easier and what else you could be doing. Management hasn’t spoken with customers? Make sure your customer-facing employees are involved in this discussion.

Create a Customer-Centric Culture

David Ogilvy used to put an empty chair in the meeting, so participants would think about how receptive the customer would be to what was being discussed. In order for this to work, there needs to be a sufficiently diverse group of people creating the culture to accurately represent the customer’s point of view.

Engage Customers Via Social Media

Listen to them, respond to them, let them know you care about what they have to say by listening and responding in a timely manner. The faster you respond, the more your customers know you care about what they have to say. After eating 3,200 burrito bowls, Chipotle responds to my tweets in less than 30 minutes — I know they’re listening and appreciate me.

Check in After You’ve Made the Sale

Did the product or service your customers spent money on solve their problem or meet their expectations? If you don’t get a response, you have an engagement issue — especially if you’re a software-as-a-service provider. Learn what’s good and what you can do to improve. CX is a never-ending process.

What other CX best practices are you following or seeing others implement?

Tapping the Psychology of Fun for Sales and ROI

Tapping the psychology of fun for sales and ROI takes work, because sometimes we marketers are so close to the trees, we can’t see the forest. Such is often the case with building customer experiences and journeys. It’s easy to download the latest template for mapping out each response to potential questions or needs along the customers pathway to “yes” and lifetime loyalty. And while that is critical for maintaining consistent touchpoints with a brand, it’s not where customer experience stops — or starts, for that matter.

Tapping the psychology of fun for sales and ROI takes work, because sometimes we marketers are so close to the trees, we can’t see the forest. Such is often the case with building customer experiences and journeys. It’s easy to download the latest template for mapping out each response to potential questions or needs along the customers pathway to “yes” and lifetime loyalty. And while that is critical for maintaining consistent touchpoints with a brand, it’s not where customer experience stops — or starts, for that matter.

Consumers are drawn to brands that make them smile, giggle or feel something beyond the routine by surprising them with creative experiences beyond any expectations. It’s not just experiences — like Apple’s Genius Bar and concierge style of selling — it’s little things that truly are delightful, fun and memorable. And its these little things that have a big impact.

Consider something as simple as this:

Every year, the charming town of Frisco, Colo., holds it annual BBQ challenge — featuring dozens of chefs, all competing for the People’s Choice award for best BBQ dish served. Most restauranteurs roll their retail trailers onto Main Street and set up their mobile kitchens in hopes of luring the crowd and getting votes for best brisket, ribs, pork and more. And to all the thousands of visitors roaming the streets for tasting and fun, they all look and smell the same. Except for one: The Golden Toad.

psychology of fun: golden toad
Credit: Jeanette McMurtry

Rather than just set up a food station and hope a colorful trailer and fun logo draw the crowds, the Golden Toad cooks up a crowd by making its food station about fun — not just food. Throughout the event, employees play fun, energizing music from their cook station, which is set up like a stage so people can see their chefs at work. And throughout each day, those same chefs take to the streets, playing air band with guitar-size spatulas, rallying attention — which quickly results in the longest line of all. They engage the crowd in their fun, too. They hand out those supersized grill spatulas to young kids and invite them to join their jam, sharing the fun and delighting parents who get to see their kids doing something beyond the routine, too. Its fun. Its contagious and it drives sales volume and People’s Choice votes, earning them this coveted honor many times over.

psychology of fun: Golden Toad's long lines
Credit: Jeanette McMurtry

Golden Toad doesn’t stop there, either. Once its attention-grabbing dance band draws a crowd for the performance and the food line, the commitment to making the customer experience positive and entertaining continues at a place most marketers neglect: the line for products or services. It’s no new news that we consumers are impatient and tend to abandon a purchasing mission if we get bored or antsy waiting in a long line. Golden Toad owners, “Toad” and Sara Jilbert counter this very real issue by installing a TV camera in their trailer, next to the cashiers, tuned strategically to whatever local sports are in play at the time. As a result, Golden Toad minimizes line abandonment from the consumers it drew with its fun, entertaining experience.

The psychology of fun and entertainment is real and needs to be front-and-center in all customer experiences for all brands. Wikipedia’s definition of “fun” includes the following insights:

“Fun is an experience often unexpected, informal or purposeless. It is an enjoyable distraction, diverting the mind and body from any serious task or contributing an extra dimension to it.”

We consumers live stressful lives. We need diversions from the stress of daily routines and the stress of shopping; especially when there are many choices to make, such as a huge BBQ challenge that lines several blocks on Main Street, USA. Little things that entertain and free our minds of routine energy and help ease our choices through fun diversions work. They work for all brands and in all industries. And they can work for you. All it takes is some imagination. Volkswagen, a few years ago, created a series of experiments and corresponding videos, called The Fun Theory. showing how behavior is changed for the better by adding fun to routine activities, such as choosing stairs over an escalator and using a bottle recycling station over a landfill-bound trash can. For example, by turning stairs into a musical keyboard, there was a 60% increase in usage.

Imagine if you could make your online or retail store shopping experience more fun and increase shopping transactions by 60%!

So change your routine. Go for a walk instead of sitting at your desk and let your mind have fun observing people around you — what draws them, what makes them stop their routine to engage and just have fun!

Creating a Culture of Wow Customer Experiences

I have urged many companies to differentiate on the basis of wow customer experiences, because the bar is so low. It’s also easier for a small and mid-size company than a large company to perform outstanding CX, because you can instill customer-centric values from the top down, as well as hire and promote based on the customer experience they are providing to both internal and external customers.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend two user conferences in two weeks. Both of the companies hosting the conferences are fast-growing high tech companies. One is a hybrid multi-cloud management platform and the other provides an artifacts management platform for DevOps teams.

The segments of IT in which both of these organizations compete are rife with competition, yet both companies are growing quickly and are delivering consistently outstanding customer experiences. One has an NPS score of 92; the highest I had ever heard of was 83 from USAA. The other has 97% customer retention and 245% upsell to current customers.

Both of these organizations understand the importance of listening to customers and helping them find value in their technology investments. In talking with customers and employees alike, it’s obvious these companies are differentiating themselves by providing wow customer experiences.

I have urged many companies to differentiate on the basis of wow customer experiences, because the bar is so low. It’s also easier for a small and mid-size company than a large company to perform outstanding CX, because you can instill customer-centric values from the top down, as well as hire and promote based on the customer experience they are providing to both internal and external customers.

Where do you start? With employees. While it’s important to meet monthly, quarterly and annual sales goals, you can make the argument that providing a great customer experience is more important; especially if you’re selling a product or service from which the consumer can select another provider at any time.

A great CX starts with your employees. Are they more concerned with making sure the client is happy with the experience they are having with your product or service or making their sales goals? If your customers are happy, you’re going to make your sales goals – maybe not this month or quarter, but over the long-term.

Happy customers generate more revenue and help you attract other customers. They serve as references, provide case studies, testimonials and referrals; thereby reducing, or amplifying, your marketing investment.

Engaged, empowered employees help provide a great CX. Do your employees know that’s what you expect of them?