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  • Nick Hague and Paul Hague

Chemicals that make customers happy

Great customer experience depends on having the right product at the right price in the right place delivered by the right people. That is why we spend time in our blog talking about how to make sure that the product, price and people are at peak performance.

We also know that great customer experience can be a very subtle thing. The French describe it as je ne sais quoi – “I do not know what”. So today we want to see if we can find some of that je ne sais quoi by examining what prompts reactions in our brain during the customer experience process.

The brain is affected by chemicals which influence our moods. The chemicals transmit messages between nerve cells. This raises the question as to whether we can utilise these chemicals to enhance customer experience. When we feel good it is because our brain is releasing a happy chemical. There are four of these – dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphin. These chemicals aren’t on stream all at the same time. They are programmed and released by events.

Dopamine reminds us of a pleasurable outcome. It helps us focus and it makes things interesting. If we see something that has previously given us pleasure, dopamine kicks in and reminds us that this is something we want more of. What is it that we could repeatedly present to customers that will trigger the release of dopamine? In customer experience terms it could be simple actions such as seeing a recognisable brand that has always served well, or opening a package that has been beautifully wrapped, or smelling something that reeks of quality.

Serotonin stabilisers our moods. It regulates anxiety and keeps depression at bay. With the right serotonin levels we find we are happier, calmer and less anxious. Serotonin levels are influenced by the food we eat and exercise. They are also affected by exposure to bright light such as sunshine. Of relevance to us in our search for improved customer experience, serotonin is boosted by remembering happy and positive events. So, if we tell customers about our amazing quality control, or high levels of customer satisfaction, or a success story enjoyed by another customer (e.g. a testimonial) it will increase the serotonin level and introduce a feeling of calm.

When oxytocin is secreted into the brain it reduces stress and anxiety. Furthermore, it is known as the "love hormone" because it promotes bonding and deeper relationships. Oxytocin is controlled by a positive feedback mechanism. The best way of ensuring an oxytocin release in customers is through social bonding. Customers like to think they are loved, looked after and needed. It may be possible to stimulate these feelings through the written word but we imagine that real-life conversations with empathetic salespeople will have greatest effect.

Endorphins relieve pain and stress. They are normally released through exercise which isn't particularly helpful to a customer experience strategy. However, volunteering, donating and helping others also releases endorphins. There may be occasions when we can say that as a result of buying a product someone else will benefit. Maybe there is a "fair trade" programme in place or the company supports a charity. These acts of bigheartedness could spark the release of endorphins with the customer.

One of the keys to great customer experience is understanding customers’ needs and proactively responding to them with innovative offers. We are not suggesting that dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphin are cornerstones of a customer experience offer, but they are worth thinking about. If we know how our customers’ brains tick, we are in a better position to make them happy. And happy customers are our principal goal.

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