Sales & Marketing

Customer experience in the age of the goldfish attention span

7 min read

01 July 2019

We're constantly being told that customer attention spans are getting shorter, thanks to technology. But is this a myth?

There is a truism that our attention spans are getting shorter and that developments in technology are to blame. However, there is a compelling argument that this is just a myth. And what if it is? What if we don’t have dwindling attention spans at all? What if we just have less tolerance for bad experiences?

Customer experience is king: Why engagement and attention matters

Assisted customer experiences brought to us by companies like Google, Netflix and Spotify have shifted our expectations. You’re no longer just competing with category peers, you are being compared to each user’s best experiences. So when it comes to the world of work, why can’t booking a meeting room at work be as easy binge-watching the latest tv series?

It is for precisely this reason that simplicity is more important than ever. Simplicity pays. In our annual global survey of more than 15,000 consumers, 55% of consumers said they will pay a premium for simpler experiences. If you had taken the top ten simplest brands from our Index as a hypothetical investment portfolio then your investments would be up 679% on the major indices in the past decade.

Look a little closer and, as expected, you will see that Netflix, Google, and Spotify ranked 1st, 3rd and 8th as the simplest brands in the world for their usability, consumer understanding, transparency, innovation, and functionality.

Snapchat: ‘More tech’ doesn’t mean better customer experience and engagement

However, the good news is that, as demonstrated by Snapchat, more tech innovation isn’t always the antidote for a poor brand experience. After a disastrous app re-design, Snap ranked 93rd in our Index (down 51 places) coinciding with the Snap Inc stock price sliding to an all-time low.

Brand simplicity keeps customers engaged

We believe less is more, and that brand simplicity helps bridge the gap between the actual and the ideal customer experience. It involves a two-step process that we call “simplify to amplify.” Simplifying involves distilling the core principles of your brand.

What do you do well, and, almost as crucially, what don’t you do? What is unique about your offering? What do you do that improves your customer’s lives? Your organisation should live at the nexus point of these things, and it is the job of the brand to articulate this. Amplifying involves creating every experience through this lens.

3 ways to ramp up customer experience and engagement

Teams need to simplify their business brand to foster greater customer engagement.

Simplicity isn’t just about removing the unnecessary, it’s about focusing on what’s truly meaningful in everything that you create. But what is truly meaningful? How do you go to market, compete and win when tech are consistently ripping up the rule book?

In today’s landscape, we can learn from the mantra ‘show up, wise up speed up’:

1. Show up

Be where customers are. Clearly understand your users, know their habits and track their journey. SEO, analytics, and NPS can help you track how your target audiences interact with your brand digitally. Think omni channel. Know the paths most travelled, and map the steps in the user journey both online and offline. The next step is ensuring the experience is both consistently good, and consistently you across all of these touchpoints.

2. Wise up

Understand what drives decision-making. This is slightly more nuanced than ‘know your customer.’ To ensure you have the optimal experience, for the optimal audience, at the optimal touchpoint, combine knowledge of where customers interact with your brand online with an understanding of what drives decision-making.

Know where the touchpoint is, and its relative importance to the customer. This expands to the broader mindset of knowing what you’re good at, and what you’re bad at.

Identifying and solving a pain point can be a quick win to convert customers into brand champions. Online supermarket Ocado, for example, uses AI to segment emails to respond to negative emails first – with an eye to making a net positive impact by prioritising them. You don’t have to embed AI in your customer experience, but it is imperative to identify where your efforts have the most impact.

3. Speed up

Make the journey smooth. This a case of “black-box thinking.” A 3-second page load time in central London might be fine but do your fancy functionalities load on patchy WiFi or snatched moments of 4G? Faster load means fewer bounces. The days of surviving with copy-heavy sites on a dusty CMS are over. Survey the content on each page.

It should enhance the customer’s experience, be essential to the purpose of the page and be relevant to your brand’s mission. If a customer can’t download the information into their brain in a few seconds, they’re probably not going to. We might very well be in the era of the goldfish-like attention span but ultimately it doesn’t matter.

Whether you’re buying a pizza or onboarding a new corporate client, we have less tolerance for a poor, disjointed experience. Chasing the latest trends won’t give you the edge. Work out what you do well, and do it better than you did yesterday, across every channel. Everything else is noise.