Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rough Up Customers a Bit

A few rough spots in an otherwise smooth shopping experience increase customer tolerance for the inevitable shortfalls. Rough spots, I mean, for the haptic sense—the sense of touch, according to researchers at Drexel University, University of British Columbia, and Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. They found that consumers feeling rough surfaces became more empathic toward others than did an equivalent set of consumers feeling smooth surfaces.
     Empathy in the direction of retailer to shopper is important. It, along with the related traits of attentiveness and friendliness, influenced customer satisfaction to a greater extent than did service outcome factors in studies from Chinese University of Hong Kong and Fudan University in China. Those outcome factors included how well a clothes dryer worked after being repaired, if the cruise ship vacation met expectations, and even the extent of financial returns on investments.
     Empathy by shoppers toward the retailer is also useful. Consider the finding by Bayer Healthcare, Columbia University, and Maastricht University researchers that placing a mirror behind the places where a retailer accepts complaints reduces the intensity of customers’ dissatisfaction. When a consumer sees an image of herself, her self-awareness increases. She, consciously or unconsciously, considers what part she may have played in the unsatisfactory experience. She realizes she and the retailer are in this together. Empathy.
     Installing mirrors in your store would seem easier than ensuring each customer runs their hands over sandpaper, let’s say. In addition, people differ in their receptiveness to haptic cues, and some shoppers would be repelled by physically abrasive surfaces. So it might be best to interpret the “rough surface” findings metaphorically: Shoppers who encounter a little difficulty in an otherwise smooth shopping experience often develop increased commitment to the retailer.
     Researchers at University of Chicago found that shoppers who characterized themselves as “smart” rather than “not smart” expressed a higher preference for products they’d have to travel across town to get over equivalent products they could purchase nearby. These shoppers also evaluated products more positively when the products had been pushed back on the shelves rather than being in easy reach.
     A parallel effect occurs in collecting donations. People who described themselves as “pioneers” dropped higher amounts of money into a charity box when they had to stretch four feet to make the contribution rather than just drop it in without stretching. This difference did not appear among people describing themselves as “followers.”

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Emphasize Empathy in Providing Services
Mirror Responsibility at Complaint Desks
Reach Out for What Will Touch Your Shoppers
Challenge Smart Shoppers
Generate Empathy for Running Retail

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