The Five senses. You have known them since elementary school. Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell, and Touch. But while you may be aware of them and could list them all on a game show to win a prize, have you ever considered how each of them contributes to each of our experiences?
Last year we documented our “Experience Psychology Checklist”, which serves as probes to find and be aware of the little things in the experience which most people wouldn’t notice but influence how we perceive the experience. In most cases these are subconscious drivers of our behaviour. We had included the 5 senses in that checklist so when I watched Jinsop Lee’s TED talk about the 5 senses I was happy we are not the only ones who think this way. However we hadn’t really thought about the 5 senses in their entirety.
Lee, who is a former professor of design, uses a spider graph to evaluate the extent to which each sense plays a part in an experience. He uses this graph for everything, from riding a motorcycle to analyzing a sexual experience. Have you ever wondered why sex is so good even when it’s not so good? That’s because it evokes all 5 senses to a great extent.
We use the experience psychology checklist in conjunction with our process called Customer Mirrors. Customer Mirrors are the process of looking at your customer experience as a “customer” including pictures and audio recordings of interactions. The checklist serves as a reminder of how your experience looks, sounds, smells, tastes and feels – all important contributors to the overall experience a customer has.
In our experience, most organizations do not consider these factors the way they should. To be fair, they can be hard to measure. They tend to be part of what we call the subconscious experience. We find that most organizations do not address this area because they are used to designing processes and not experiences. And there is a big difference between processes and experiences. Most organizations are good in designing processes but going through the same process in one location or another could be a completely different experience. When designing an experience you need to also consider what emotions and senses you want to evoke as these make up a least 50% of any customer experience.
Here are some more ways that we know that the senses are integral to the customer experience. Consider how music influences decisions.
A wine store played German Music one day and sales of German wines went up by 5:1. Next day they played French music – same happed to the sales of French wine. When people went outside and they asked them – why did you buy that wine – people said because it’s a quality wine etc. no one mentioned the music – in other words people are not aware of what drove their behaviour – music was a subconscious driver of their behaviour.
But it isn’t just what we hear. What we smell during a customer experience can make a huge difference also.
The Net Cost supermarkets in Brooklyn, NY, pipe in 5 difference aromas throughout their store to enhance the shopping experience for their customers. Expect to smell fruit in the produce section and chocolate next to the candy. The idea was to make people hungrier with good smells so they buy more. And it worked. Sales were up 7% after the introduction of the smells.
These are only a couple of examples. There are countless other examples where sense play an important part in the customer experience. Who can deny that the clean lines and open spaces of an Apple store are not inviting to coming in and mingling with the geniuses? But, with all their greatness, even Apple learned the hard way the price of nit considering all senses when designing their state of the art store in Palo Alto. Using these additional stimuli contribute greatly to the overall experience your customer has with your business.
Experiences are made great when they incorporate all your senses. It is an important part of your design plan to include how you can stimulate each of the five in order to connect subconsciously with your customers. These connections can be the difference between a great experience and one that is just okay. And with the exception of sex, just okay isn’t nearly good enough.
|Zhecho Dobrev is a consultant and project manager for Beyond Philosophy. He has worked with a wide array of large corporate companies. Zhecho’s expertise includes customer behaviour analytics, customer loyalty, complaints management and journey mapping. He holds an MBA and Master’s degree in International Relations.
Zhecho Dobrev on Twitter @Zhecho_BeyondP