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Customer Experience and the Rise of the Micro-Stressor

With most brands now focusing their efforts on improving customer experiences, the reality is that much of the competitive advantage once offered by strong CX is now being canceled out by similar efforts made by the competition. As a result, simply streamlining your company’s website or shortening the path to checkout isn’t good enough anymore. Today, you have to find new and innovative ways to improve the customer experience. How can you take it a step further than the competition? Here are three ways to get started.

1. Consider Micro-Stressors

While major issues like website outages or unresponsive apps obviously damage the customer experience, most brands are already addressing these concerns. Where your business can stand out, though, is in identifying and fixing those minor issues that don’t necessarily register as an obvious source of complaints.

Eighty-six percent of shoppers experience low levels of stress if they reach the checkout and a voucher code doesn’t work. Another 81 percent report stress as a result of minor loading time delays. These ‘micro-stressors’ represent a constant source of irritation for customers both online and in apps.

To uncover and address these issues, you have to look beyond traditional website analytics and consider ‘experience analytics.’ By examining mouse movements, taps, swipes, and ‘rage clicks’, you can understand where the frustrations occur and how a customer is feeling as they travel throughout a webpage, site, or mobile app.

2. Stay One Step Ahead

Brands must also work hard to reduce the major pain points such as slow loading speeds, website outages, and issues with the payment process. Unfortunately, unlike micro-stressors, these larger issues can’t always be avoided. Websites inevitably require maintenance, and apps cannot survive without updates. As a result, there will always be times when the consumer is inconvenienced and the customer experience is let down by technology.

To address this, you must get ahead of these issues and prepare your customers in advance for disruptions. According to the latest research, even the most basic forms of explanation — whether a customized error page or a ‘back in five minutes’ sign — can reduce consumer stress by up to 13 percent. Building such explanations into the customer journey, and providing some content for when things do go wrong, is often enough to make a customer feel valued and ultimately improve their experience.

3. Think Emotions, Not Just Data

In the age of data-driven experiences, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the idea that you must make all decisions based on hard facts and rational evidence. But, no matter how much we want to see ourselves as wholly rational beings, the reality is that we all shop with our hearts just as much as we do with our minds.

In many instances, our purchase decisions aren’t always logical or even repeatable and instead are driven by everything from happiness to hunger, and boredom to stress. According to Clicktale’s research, 76 percent of data professionals believe that consumers are fundamentally irrational when they shop. As such, if you’re going to build great experiences, you must work much harder to ensure you truly understand your customers’ moods and emotions. Only by doing so can you identify the real sources of stress and guarantee your customers walk away from every interaction in a positive frame of mind.

As with most things in CX, it’s the little things that matter the most. By tapping into the emotional state and intent of your customers, and finding out what makes them tick, you’ll begin to pull away from the competition in terms of being a brand that truly understands its customers. Because, as I said before, simply streamlining your company’s website or shortening the path to checkout isn’t good enough anymore.

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