Does your customer experience motivate long-term relationships?

Customer experience and emotional benefits

You can give your brand experience super powers 

  1. Demonstrate importance and impact. People want to feel important.
  2. Show clear expectations. People want to feel relaxed.
  3. Show that choice exists. People want freedom.
  4. Appreciate others. People need friends.
  5. Be transparent. People demand respect.

Customer experience is a buzz right now and we can all benefit from the improved brand relations it creates. Service and products are in general better now then ever as companies now days have implemented advanced feedback systems.

However. Customer experience systems are build on marketing research using rational questions, but the true motives for relations are often hidden for the conscious thinking and questionnaires. Companies working with programs like NPS, will after a couple of years find that the NPS level is stuck and shows a flat line. Rational activities seem to take customer experience only to a limited level.

Today many NPS directors need better research to create insights from the sub conscious to boost their NPS scores. To move ahead they should integrate Neurobranding with customer experience and traditional brand building.

Customers are experts in interpreting small things that are not said explicit and they constantly ask themselves about the hidden purpose of your actions. They look for implicit meaning as it tells them so much more on what to expect of the future. Customers ask themselves “why did you say that?” or “why did you do that?” And the most important “what’s in it for me?” Customers look for future benefits and the emotional benefits are important.

The implicit side of motivation brings us to the SCARF model of David Rock. The model can be used to reveal the emotional benefits that truly run decisions and choices of your brand.

The SCARF model has five dimensions: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness. If you use his model to evaluate experience and expectations, it will give you completely new insights on why your NPS succeed or have problems.

The SCARF idea is that the experience and the expected outcome of a personal relation have the power to put the brain in a reward or threat mode.

If a brand experience is expected to create status and certainty, the brain is open to approach as there may be future rewards and benefits of pride and comfort. If, however the brand relation feels uncertain and lacks status, the brain may say avoid, as there may be threats like shame and worry involved.

SCARF Status

Neuromarketing advice: Demonstrate importance and impact. People want to feel important.

Can your brand help your customers to be important in a social context?  Do they feel more interesting and respected because of the relationship with you?

We need status brands to show power within the context we live our lives. For some people this is extremely important and they evaluate everything they buy on its ability to make them more interesting. Examples are choosing a vacation resort people wants to hear about, buy a car people will look at or moving to a place people will envy.

To transfer status, you need to show that your brand is better, have more impact and has a relative high importance. Price, uniqueness and scarcity are some things you can use.  Your best ambassadors are your customers and how they use your brand. If they feel status you have status. Ask yourself what made them feel pride and recognition while using your brand.

Don’t think status is only about luxury products, Status is a driving force in any context, not only among the rich. There is always something creating status making someone interesting and recognized within their networks. Take a look at what I find being status markers of today in Sweden:

  • Big family.
  • Sustainable travels
  • Health diets
  • Time
  • Space
  • Charity


SCARF Certainty

Neurobranding advice: “Show clear expectations” People want to feel relaxed.

Can your customer experience make people relax and stop worry? Can it make them feel comfort and safety? Will you deliver what you promise?

With certainty our brains can relax and don’t have to be activated. This is a good thing because our reward system is activated with certainty.

It is important to avoid uncertainty as it indicates future efforts and workloads. That is why we look constantly for certainty and hope brands will deliver it. We ask our insurance companies, cars, cereals, smartphones and soft drinks to give it to us. Often, they deliver the illusion of certainty. It doesn’t matter, we feel comfortable with that as well.

How would your customers answer about you?

  • A brand that is good now and tomorrow
  • A brand that always deliver
  • A brand with good intentions
  • A brand that will not give me unpleasant surprises

Answer truthfully and you may get an indication on whether you create certainty.

SCARF Autonomy

Neurobranding advice: “Show that choice exists”. People want freedom.

In a relationship with you, the customer wants to be able to change things, get good service, leave you with short notice and influence his position as a customer.

If he feels that he will be stuck in a relation with you he will avoid you.

I bet that you have had a feeling of hopelessness in a brand relationship. The feeling that comes from that there is no use talking to your supplier and there is no way to change the situation. I had it recently when I received a strange invoice from a search engine. There was nothing I could do to get in contact with customer service and get things corrected. At least in a way I understood.  My “Autonomy level” towards that brand is now very low.

We all have desires and dreams of a better life and need to know what is desired that can be achieved. We look for hope and want to be able to change things in a positive direction. We don’t want to be totally in the hands of others without a possibility to move from a situation that goes the wrong way.

That makes autonomy very important for our survival. Having freedom of choice is something the brain looks for before approaching a new relation.

A customer instinctively doesn’t want to be locked in without any option or chance to change his position in the future. That is why the level of autonomy will have a deep impact on a customer experience.

Phone companies lock people in with long term agreements and offer poor service once you’re in their system. Banks tie up their customers with systems that are very hard to leave. If you are in one of those trades and your brand suffers from low customer satisfaction, it would be smart to think around how autonomy affects the brand relation.

SCARF Relatedness

Neurobranding advice: “Appreciate others” People need friends.

Does your brand help people to achieve social connections to each other? Does it make people belong to a group? Does it help people to get an identity within a context? Is the relation with your brand improving the possibility of important relations?

Relatedness is about that we instinctively and very fast evaluate all relations as friend or foe. That makes relatedness closely linked to certainty and trust.

If your brand provide membership to a group and perhaps also facilitate the relation, people will probably instinctively like you.

When you view someone as a foe you feel competition, less empathy, and instinctively avoid that person. When you view someone as a friend you have more empathy, you generate reward response and approach the relation.

Lack of relatedness can leave us isolated and lonely and we look actively for connections that makes us belong to a group and a social context.

Relatedness has actually always been one of the mayor branding and advertising concepts. If you can show that you are connected to a specific customer group and are a part of their lifestyle and values, you sell more. That has been proved many times.

If you concentrate your branding efforts to a group they will influence each other, as they will use your brand as a marker of group membership. This is why brand extensions outside the target group may be dangerous. The brand could loose it´s power within the core group when the implicit message of group connection disappears.

SCARF –Fairness

Neurobranding advice: Be transparent about expectations. People demand respect.

Are you treating your customers fair and equal? Do you treat customers with respect? Is your customer more important than your profit?

Everybody is sensitive about respect and avoid instinctively to be used. A feeling of unfairness can trump rational benefits of high value.

Remember the feeling of not getting the price promised? Remember the feeling when the customer service promise to call back but never does as they are fully occupied with other customers. Remember the feeling when the waiter gives excellent service to all other tables but yours.

You can find problems in your customer experience scores if you don’t provide the same attention and service to all customers, if you don’t show fairness in disputes and if you take advantage of your position and overcharge and underdeliver. Being unfair creates negative feelings and customers will avoid your brand.

Chronicle. This is a personal written text. Any views expressed are the writer’s own