Three User Experience Trends Consumers Will Pay More For
They Just Don't Always Know ItAdd bookmark
What do iPhone games, social media, streaming services, the news, same-day shipping, and online casinos all have in common?
Besides a platform that can be abused like a modern drug, each provides immediate, immersive experiences that the user can gain instant gratification from. Take Netflix or Tiktok for example. When you click on the app, what happens? You’re immediately immersed in the experience - watching a preview or 30 second clip, before you even had to make a decision.
The effortless, instant gratification provided by Netflix, Tiktok, and the other industries mentioned above can be broken down into many components, telling us a lot about consumer behavior. But three in particular stand out.
First, the more steps we incorporate in the consumer journey, the less instant the gratification is, the more opportunity consumers have to abandon the content, product, or service.
Second, more product/service options are not always better. In fact, more times than not, consumers want to be told what they want, tailored to us based off of our behavior (i.e. clicks, visits, previous purchases, etc.) taking any effort out of the decision making process.
Lastly, when it comes to consumption, we have an increasingly short attention span. And the brand that can deliver a service to the consumer with the shortest attention span wins. Let’s start there.
Speed of service is even more important than you thought
Recent research, commissioned by Google and conducted by 55 and Deloitte, looked at 37 leading European and American brand sites across four verticals: retail, luxury, travel, and lead generation (for example, insurance or car dealership sites). Mobile load times were monitored hour by hour for 30 days at the end of last year, with the results consolidated in real time against a range of typical mobile purchase journey metrics, according to Google. A 0.1 second improvement to mobile site speed, in retail alone, grew conversion rates by 8.4%, and the average order value by 9.2%.
Think about that for a second. Slow service not being optimally profitable is nothing new. If we engage in an experience, and the experience is poor, we may consciously abandon it, and switch to the brand’s competitor that simply provides a better experience. But as consumers, these qualifications of what we judge good service on, are becoming so incredibly important in purchasing behavior, that we’re factoring them in on a subconscious level. After all, no Walmart customer consciously says:
“This app took a tenth of a second longer than I would have liked. I’m not going to make a purchase from Walmart. Maybe I’ll buy something from Amazon instead.” Yet, these are the exact actions many consumers inevitably take.
Considering the above, it comes as no surprise that according to CCW Digital’s August Market Study, speed/efficiency, and information displayed are the top two consumer preferences we judge customer service on.
As a result of the pandemic, nearly 60% of consumers now (consciously) care more about the customer experience when deciding which brands to purchase from. But when you factor in all the steps of the consumer journey that the customer takes (subconscious) note of, such as a fraction of a second, it’s safe to say that nothing today goes unnoticed in your customer’s mind.
As a result, according to CCW Digital’s November Market Study, 81% of contact center, customer experience, marketing, IT, and/or operations strategy leaders say customer satisfaction (CSAT) objectives will be more important as they look towards 2025. But sometimes, delivering profitable customer satisfaction means less is more.
How you display products influences “decision paralysis”
A decade ago, the New York Times talked about decision paralysis, reducing displayed product options, which in turn, speeds up the decision making process, while reducing effort for consumers, in a famous jam study.
Sheena Iyengar, a professor of business at Columbia University and the author of “The Art of Choosing,” conducted the study in 1995.
In a California gourmet market, Professor Iyengar and her research assistants set up a booth of samples of Wilkin & Sons jams. Every few hours, they switched from offering a selection of 24 jams to a group of six jams. On average, customers tasted two jams, regardless of the size of the assortment, and each one received a coupon good for $1 off one Wilkin & Sons jam.
Here’s the interesting part. 60% of customers were drawn to the large assortment, while only 40% stopped by the small one. But 30% of the people who had sampled from the small assortment decided to buy jam, while only 3% of those confronted with the two dozen jams purchased a jar.
That study “raised the hypothesis that the presence of choice might be appealing as a theory,” Professor Iyengar had said the previous year, “but in reality, people might find more and more choice to actually be debilitating.”
Over the years, versions of the jam study have been recreated using all sorts of subjects, like chocolate and speed dating. However, the concept applies to virtually any form of decision making, as well as how we influence it.
As the New York Times article put it:
Understanding how we choose could guide employers and policy makers in helping us make better decisions. For example, most of us know that it’s a wise decision to save in a 401(k). But studies have shown that if more fund options are offered, fewer people participate. And the highest participation rates are among those employees who are automatically enrolled in their company’s 401(k)’s unless they actively choose not to.
This is a case where offering a default option of opting in, rather than opting out (as many have suggested with organ donations as well) doesn’t take away choice but guides us to make better ones, according to Richard H. Thaler, an economics professor at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, and Cass R. Sunstein, a professor at Chicago’s law school, who are the authors of “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness” (Yale University Press, 2008).
From picking a jar of jam, to a 401k plan, decision making can be difficult.
The fewer consumer steps required, the fewer consumers abandon your brand
As WSJ and NYT bestselling author, Shep Hyken, once told me:
"When you know your [customer] churn rate, you know your retention rate. Or vice versa. You want to know all types of numbers beyond just customer satisfaction to understand the importance of good service."
Shep preaches about the influence that each step in the customer journey has on these metrics. Now more than ever, consumers prefer to complete their purchase in one easy fell swoop rather than purchase multiple accessories separately.
For example, Neuroeconomics expert George Loewenstein cites customers’ willingness to upgrade car packages all at once but points out how difficult it often is for the brain to justify each individual upgrade (“Yes, I will pay extra for navigation … and … seats … and …,” etc). Besides having to rationally justify each upgrade to themselves, each add-on usually requires its own separate process in the journey, making it even more difficult for the customer to justify each action, ultimately resulting in higher customer churn rates.
These individual purchases create individual pain points, whereas a bundled purchase for a product in one seamless journey, or on one platform creates only one pain point, even if the price is much greater. Simply put, the more steps required, the greater the percentage of customers who fall off.
Loewenstein’s research shows why many consumers are willing to pay more for complete bundles rather than chasing down individual products and accessories: Not only is it less of a hassle, but it also results in fewer purchase pain points.
Consider the following explanation Jim Roth, Executive VP, Customer Support at Salesforce recently gave me:
“We know, in all of our lives as consumers, when we have a question or need help with something, we all start in Google… the question you need to ask, is ‘can I meet them where they are rather than forcing them to come to my domain, or my property, or my site - because that’s extra work.”
When we think about immersive user experiences and instant gratification, we think about the value provided to the consumer. But it’s not always purely the product that’s valuable. It’s usually the experience put in front of the customer. From presenting consumers with the right number of product options (as indicated in the Columbia University Professor’s jam study), to efficient service (as indicated in the 55 and Deloitte research on mobile speed), to reducing customer friction - the experience we put in front of our consumers often is the product they’re paying for. They just don’t always know it.
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