The Intuitive Customer

This book gives you a better grasp of why customers do things even when they don’t know themselves. It also helps in getting a better understanding of how customer behaviour is affected by the subconscious. And importantly it gives the reader advice on how to turn this understanding into action.

I first read ‘The Intuitive Customer’ on my Kindle, but ended up making so many notes that I ordered a hard copy of the book. This is now covered in yellow highlighter markings. I’ve reindexed these at the front of the book so that it is easy to refer back to points that are meaningful to me. This is definitely a book that I will use again and again to help me apply the insights with our clients.

At first, I found the title of the book, ‘The Intuitive Customer’ confusing or at least puzzling. Why intuitive?

Intuition is defined as the ability to understand something instinctively without the need for conscious reasoning. It is effortless, allowing us to make decisions instantly based on feelings rather than facts. I immediately think of female intuition – something that is usually accurate yet not obvious to the rational thinker.

Who are these intuitive customers, I thought? Only to have the authors say in the first few pages “Everyone is the Intuitive Customer. Customers are people, and people make many decisions that are not strictly rationale. We do many things intuitively… without thinking about them.”

So, the authors aren’t referring to a type of customer, they are discussing what we can learn about how all customers make judgements about their experience with us.

Inside the customer’s mind, they say, are two different systems of thinking: the Intuitive System and the Rational System. The Intuitive system is faster and more automatic and is the part of the mind that often jumps to conclusions. The Rational System is slower and requires more cognitive effort. Much of the time the brain defaults to the Intuitive System to interpret events and make decisions.

This is similar to Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s explanation of what he called System 1 and System 2 in his groundbreaking book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’. I can never remember which system is which, so our authors’ reference to the ‘Intuitive System’ and the ‘Rational System’ make this far easier. And as this book explains, making it is easy for your key customer types is good.

One of the stand out points for me from this book is that intuitive thinking is even more likely to prevail when a person’s energy is waning – psychologists like Ryan Hamilton call this cognitive depletion. This means that when you design your customer experience to anticipate the choices people make when cognitively depleted, you are well on the way to taking the customer experience to the next level.

Related to this is the importance of being aware of the unintended consequences of striving for efficiency. The authors point out that most organisations design experiences to reduce costs and process the customer in the most cost-effective way.

This ignores the customers’ wants and feelings. What is efficient for the organisation is not necessarily good for the customer. The process may be more confusing, involve more hoops to jump through and be a lot more frustrating for the customer. This causes negative word of mouth and less repeat business resulting in the ‘efficiencies’ leading to higher costs for the company.

In summary, if your organisation is efficiency based, it is unlikely to be easy for your customers. Whereas, if you put the customer at the centre of everything you do, your experience will be easy for the customer and therefore viewed positively.

The authors also reaffirmed for me that creating great memories is one of the most powerful tools in your customer-focussed toolbox. They back this up with advice and examples. Customer loyalty is a function of memory, therefore understanding how positive memories are formed is the key to stimulating repeat business and fostering advocates for your business.

They remind us that customer loyalty and memories are not driven by the actual experiences customers have with an organisation, but with how customers remember those experiences. More importantly, as they do throughout this engrossing book, they delve into what you can do to create positive memories for your customers.

This includes being aware that experiences that induce strong emotions, good or bad, are remembered. Also that the mind gives preferential treatment to verbal memories over experiential memories.

This means that a good or bad review written for a social review site such as Trip Advisor reinforces the validity of the experience in the customer’s mind. And apparently, writing it down overwrites the experiential memory. All the more reason to encourage your customers to write a review when they tell you or one of your team how much they enjoyed or appreciated something your company has done.

For me, the authors added a dimension to complaint handling by explaining how in their training they teach service providers to use an extra step. Once the issue has been resolved to the customer’s satisfaction they help the customers rediscover aspects of the experience that were good.  This helps to rebalance the memory when it is ‘resaved’ in the customers mind.

This book is written in an easy to read conversational style. While backed by research and explanations of psychological terms it is a practitioners book that will help you improve the overall experience for your customers and be appreciated for doing so.

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Jurek Leon is a storyteller, speaker and trainer. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly 'Terrific Tips' e-newsletter at http://www.terrifictrading.com/terrific-newsletter/. Alternatively, email info@terrifictrading.com.