Case study; what implicitly drives a brilliant customer experience

Steve Brockway

May 28, 2019

Consumer brands face a challenging time – and none more so than hospitality and casual dining brands.

A changing economic environment and constantly evolving competitor set means that the customer experience is everything. CX has become the core component of business strategies.

But how do brands ensure their customer experience cuts above the competition and pulls the right emotional triggers to drive long-term loyalty?

Measuring implicit customer reaction

For too often, brands have been focused on on-the-day feedback.

But touchpoint feedback often fails to take into account the longer-term impact of a customer relationship. It means that just measuring one-time touchpoint experiences, brands can’t accurately measure customer loyalty – or understand which CX elements will have the biggest impact on repeat visits.

With touchpoint measurement alone, brands are unable to understand which experience elements are hardwired to a customer’s emotions and, importantly, which will have the biggest influence on customer decision-making and longer-term loyalty.

Read What customers really remember about their experience will set your CX apart

CX elements that connect emotionally with customers

Using our in-house implicit measurement methodology, Matchbox have uncovered which CX elements are implicitly associated with a brilliant casual dining experience.

Results show that quality food, friendly and knowledgeable service, attractive interior and atmosphere have the strongest implicit associations with a brilliant customer experience.

Focusing on elements that are most strongly associated with ‘Brilliant’ experiences will trigger fast, gut reactions that drive decision making

A focus on these customer deliverables will ensure brands connect emotionally with customers and align with the fast and intuitive thinking people make when evaluating their experience and influencing future decisions. In other words, brands will deliver an experience that leaves on-the-day satisfaction high and encourages long-term loyalty.

This is not to say that other CX elements are unimportant – just that other areas are rationally evaluated.

Delivering emotive experiences

Our implicit association tool measures both the emotional and rational reaction of customers, as well as the implicit strength of association by measuring respondent reaction time. It uncovers core associations with a particular brand, product or experience, as well as the instinctive choices being made by customers as a result of an interaction.

By mapping reaction times to CX elements that customers associate with a ‘brilliant’ experience, we are able to uncover clear priorities and action points for hospitality brands.

Elements – such as atmosphere and attentive service – evoke strong explicit and implicit associations from customers. These elements should be a key focus areas for both marketing and on-the-day CX delivery by customer facing teams.

However, quality food and friendly service had the fastest implicit association with a ‘brilliant’ customer experience but score a below average explicit association. It shows that these areas are extremely emotive for customers and will be remembered both if brands execute well or fail to deliver.

Areas such as clean toilets and length of wait for food evoke weaker implicit associations with customers, indicating they are more rational hygiene factors.

What it means for brands and businesses

By measuring implicit reactions and associations of customers, Matchbox have successfully unearthed which elements of the experience will connect emotionally with customers. We now know the drivers of how people instinctively evaluate their casual dining experience and future decision-making.

How you make people feel will be what customers remember and encourage long-term connections. But get the basics wrong and you will never get beyond these rational issues with customers. Think of it as getting the basics right gives you the permission to created deeper, emotional bonds with customers.

  1. Hygiene factors. These elements of the experience have strong, rational associations and are processed by the brain through slower, more deliberate thinking. Getting these right enable you to start to move on from the ‘Basics’ and start to connect emotionally with customers.
    • Choice of food and drinks
    • Length of wait for food
    • Clean toilets
    • Value for money
    • Clean interior
  2. Well-rounded elements. These areas are relatively strong both explicitly and implicitly, meaning they are seen as both rational ‘must haves’ but also make emotional, quick connections to the brain for ‘Brilliance’ when done well. These areas can be used both for rational marketing communications and as a focus for on the day delivery.
    • Atmosphere
    • Attentive service
    • Attractive interior
    • Knowledgeable service
  3. Emotive areas. These areas had the fastest, intuitive association with ‘Brilliant’ and most likely to be deeply remembered should they go well, or not so well! On the ground delivery teams must prioritise excelling in these areas so customers’ fast, automatic recollection of their experience are positive.
    • Quality food
    • Friendly service