Why What We Believe Is Sometimes Just Wrong!
Many sports fans will tell you their team is the best. However, only one of the sports teams wins the championship and is definitively the best. Moreover, many organizations that never get close to the championship have fans who would say these teams are the best. For this last lot, the claim that their team is “the best” creates some serious conflict compared to reality.
The sports fan situation I described is an example of Cognitive Dissonance. Cognitive Dissonance is a universal concept for the behavioral sciences that describes how we can hold a belief contrary to reality. Moreover, the idea explains why we feel uncomfortable when confronted with the facts and will often seek irrational ways to resolve them.
This episode of The Intuitive Customer takes a deeper dive into the broad idea of Cognitive Dissonance and the many ways we try to resolve the discomfort it causes.
Cognitive Dissonance is everywhere. It is best to think of it as a behavioral science concept that is like a giant umbrella with many more specific forms of it that fall underneath. Here are a few things to remember about this essential concept:
- We all have contradictory beliefs that we hold to be true at the same time. Continuing with my sports fan example, I think the Luton Town Football Club is the best team in the English Football League. But, the truth is I know they are not. They are only in the second or Championship level of the four tiers of the league and probably should be playing in the third. Since the best teams play at the Premier level, which is a level up from Luton Town, they can’t be “the best.”
- Contradictory beliefs cause us discomfort. Having conflicting feelings bothers us. They create tension that we want to resolve by dropping one of them, but we can’t. So, the pressure remains.
- We resolve the discomfort in different ways. Eventually, we will either change our beliefs to match our behavior or change our behavior to match our ideas. However, when we cannot do this, we resort to irrational methods of resolving the conflict, like finding ways to change our perception of the conflict (i.e., rationalizing our actions). Sometimes we minimize the conflict by making excuses for the behavior. Other times we change our recollection of the story to line up better in our heads with what we believe.
- Cognitive Dissonance happens at an organizational level, too. Sometimes the brand promise and the actual Customer Experience create the Cognitive Dissonance for customers, creating problems for your customer-facing team. They are left trying to reconcile reality with what the customer feels the marketing promised them.
Wanting to reduce the feelings of Cognitive Dissonance is universal. From a Customer Experience perspective, you want to help ease your customers’ uncomfortable feelings about it. Here are a few suggestions on how to manage it in your experiences:
- Understand Cognitive Dissonance and how it makes people uncomfortable. Customers are often dealing with trying to resolve what they believe with reality, even as customers. When customers have these conflicting feelings, it can affect their behavior. Customer-facing employees should recognize when it is happening and be prepared to help manage them.
- Employ Cognitive Dissonance reduction strategies. It would be best to find ways to help customers feel less discomfort during their buying decisions. Giving your Customer-Facing team the tools they need to help manage customer emotions to a positive outcome is critical. For example, use humor to recognize the situation and ease the customer’s tension. Another way could be to point out ways features or benefits that appeal to the customer’s strongly-held belief that appears to them to conflict with the reality of your offer.
- Recognize that sometimes customers don’t understand what they want. People can’t always tell you what they want. It’s up to you to dig deeper and discover what motivates their behavior. We have Emotional Signature® Research that takes into account the difference between what people say is important to them and what actually is.
To discuss this further contact us at www.BeyondPhilosophy.com
About Beyond Philosophy:
Beyond Philosophy help organizations unlock growth by discovering customers’ hidden, unmet needs that drive value ($). We then capitalize on this by improving your customer experience to meet these needs thereby retaining and acquiring new customers across the market.