Motley Crue at Studio shooting, Tokyo, July 1985. (Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

Dr. Feelgood, from the 1989 Mötley Crüe single, was a drug dealer who got the name because he made his customers feel good. This kept his customers coming back for more. Do you make your customers feel good? It doesn’t really matter if you do a good job for them. If you don’t make them feel good about it, they won’t come back for more.

Obviously, commercial service contractors shouldn’t give their customers illicit drugs, but they can stimulate the same brain receptors that release dopamine, the feel-good hormone that drives positive reinforcement in the human biological reward system. Unfortunately, that same reward system has negative reinforcement mechanism called cortisol, the stress hormone, that’s easily triggered by bad customer service. Understanding what triggers these hormones is fundamental to creating an amazing customer experience that reduces stress, gets customers hooked to your brand, and differentiates your company from the competition.

If customers associate your brand with stress, they’ll look for a competitor that makes them feel better. Avoiding this should be simple, right? Wrong. Cortisol and other stress hormones are extremely easy to trigger in the human body. Have you or a loved one ever experienced the raw, unfiltered anger associated with even being a little bit hungry? This symptom, more commonly known as “hanger,” has definitely lead to more than one argument in my family. Relatively speaking, hanger is on the low end of the spectrum compared to the stress caused by bad customer service. You must be extremely sensitive to all of the stressors your customers experience when they deal with your brand. Start by examining your customer communication and service cycle for three critical stressors:

Uncertainty
Nobody likes being in the dark, especially facility owners and managers dealing with critical building equipment. A research study by a team from the University of London published in Nature Communications in 2016 found that uncertainty is more stressful than a known bad outcome. Participants played a computer game in which they overturned rocks, some of which hid snakes. If they discovered a snake, they received a small shock. Over time, participants would learn which rocks hid snakes so they could predict whether or not they were going to receive a shock. When participants overturned rocks that they knew hid snakes, and therefore knew they were going to receive a shock, had lower stress levels than participants that were uncertain about the outcome. Wherever possible, you must provide your customer with clarity about what you do for them and what outcomes to expect. Automatic, electronic Marketing Impressions Per Service (MIPS) are a great tool for delivering certainty and transparency throughout the service cycle. From appointment reminders, to tech en route notifications, to job summaries with pictures and videos, MIPS will tell the story of every service you deliver and provide certainty that your company is delivering value.

Inconveniences
We all get stressed out when we feel like others are wasting our valuable time. My story about returning a broken amplifier to MonoPrice, an online electronics retailer, is a great example of common inconveniences found in most customer service processes that lead to loads of stress. I wasted hours on phone calls, online chats, and email exchanges because their team lacked the information they needed to solve any of my problems. Their customer service data was scattered across different systems, divisions, and employees. Getting answers and resolution to my problems felt next to impossible. Eliminate inconveniences from your service cycle and organize your customer service data so that everyone on your team, from techs to receptionists, can answer customer questions and resolve their issues to the best of their ability.

Bad surprises
Be proactive in your services and communication so your customer is never surprised by bad outcomes. Even if those outcomes aren’t your fault, you will be associated with the stress your customers experience. For example, if a piece of equipment that you manage fails due to something out of your control, your customer will still associate the stress of that experience with your brand. Or, if they are unpleasantly surprised by a large invoice because you didn’t communicate proactively about the potential expense, they will associate that stress with your brand. Set expectations early and often so your customer is never surprised by a bad outcome because the surprise is worse than the outcome.

Stick around for the continuation of this blog post next week where I’ll tell you how to hack your customers’ reward system to trigger dopamine and make them feel good throughout the service cycle with tools like stories, technology, and pleasant surprises.

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