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Trade In Old Thinking For New

by Colin Shaw on October 20, 2016

Did you know there was once a German belief that if you sleep with your mouth open,your soul will escape disguised as a white mouse?

Or that ancient doctors used to drill holes in their patients’ heads to cure migraines?

Or that drinking the ground up testicles of a small mammal mixed with alcohol was considered a contraceptive in 16th century Canada?

These sound mad today but at one time they were considered facts. Now, they are old thinking that no longer works today—although, one could argue they didn’t work then either.

However, if you still believe that people make rational decisions as customers, you are guilty of the same kind of old thinking demonstrated in the outlandish beliefs above.

Old Thinking Doesn’t Work with New Problems

More organizations call our Customer Experience consultancy every day with the same complaint: they aren’t seeing the same gains in Net Promoter Score (NPS) that they did when they started their Customer Experience Improvement program. They want to know what to do now. My explanation is the same: The easy things in Customer Experience have been done. It’s time to take your Customer Experience to the next level.

But that’s vague, isn’t it? Who are these clients that call us wringing their hands after lying awake at night consumed with anxiety about their stagnant NPS scores? What are the easy things I say have already been done? What is this “next level of Customer Experience?”

Well, I will tell you.

Who are these clients?

Since 2002, I have worked with all types of industries. We have worked with a hospital in Texas, a worldwide shipping company, a photocopier company in Canada, an insurance company in the UK, a tourist attraction in Scotland, a global heavy equipment company, a pharmaceutical company, a mobile phone company in the Middle East, to name a few. All different industries, all the same problem. They realized the old way of doing business no longer worked. They knew to compete they needed new thinking. They took an honest look at their Customer Experience. Then, they redesigned and implemented a new Customer Experience that changed their company culture. The hand-wringing and sleepless nights were just a bit of hyperbole.

What are the easy things?

When I say easy things, I am talking about the obvious problems, the moments when our systems create negative feelings or send a different message than what we intended. For example, when we worked with the insurance company in the UK, they knew the policy required a deductible of £200 ($243.73) before processing a claim. However, our client didn’t know it meant the customer had to pay the sum in cash to the claims adjuster upon his or her arrival. Or that NO ONE told the customer this stipulation ahead of time, leaving the customer feeling surprised—but not in a beneficial way. So our client fixed that moment. It wasn’t easy like falling off a log, but it was identifiable and something they could change.

What is the next level of Customer Experience?

For years I have said emotions account for over half of the Customer Experience’s outcome, whether that is a conscious or subconscious influence. It is the bedrock on which we have built our Customer Experience Consultancy and how we helped companies like Maersk to improve their NPS score from -10 to +30 in 30 months. It was how we developed a plan to fix what I call the ‘easy stuff’.

But Customer Experience is never really done, is it? It’s a bit like home improvement projects. As soon as you update your range, you see that the dishwasher doesn’t match. Or if you paint your walls in the living room you see that the trim needs some work as well. Same goes for Customer Experience improvements. If you fix the call center operations, you then see that the invoicing system is flawed or that shipping creates hassles for the customer or any number of other things. Improving always requires digging a little deeper to see what else needs work.

The same thing happened with my philosophy about emotions and the Customer Experience. By digging a little deeper into my belief about emotions and the Customer Experience, I discovered psychological reactions to how emotions drive our behavior. When you understand how these decisions occur, you can better predict what your customers are going to do. So when I talk about Customer Experience going to the next level, I am talking about understanding the psychological reasons behind why people do the things they do and helping them make decisions you want.

It’s Time to Let Go of Old Thinking

We are not as rational as we think we are. We are irrational to our core, and make irrational decisions. We then justify it rationally, giving it the appearance of a rational decision.

Many of you don’t believe it. You think customers make rational decisions all the time or, at the very least, some of the time. I get it. It’s hard to let go of old thinking—just ask anyone who still has a landline phone at home.

But it’s time. Just like the last doctor that removed his drill from his medical bag and the last medieval Canadian woman who finally threw out that horrible contraceptive concoction to the hogs, it’s time to let go of the old beliefs that rationality is king in the Customer Experience. It’s time to embrace the new thinking that can propel your organization to the top of the Customer Experience Improvement game.

Learn more about the psychology behind customer behavior and other compelling concepts for business, in our latest book The Intuitive Customer: 7 Imperatives for moving your Customer Experience to the next level (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).20

If you missed our book launch webinar you can attend our webinars with the authors in November. Sign up here. The first 50 people to register receive a free signed book!

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of six bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX

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