Micro-moments are the difference between winning and losing customers

I‘d just spent five minutes completing a survey for a new hotel with whom I had stayed. I got to the bottom of the survey and read the following:

“Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. We hope to welcome you back again soon. In the meantime if there is anything we can do please get in touch.

The (hotel name) team.

(Hotel name) reserves the right to use any of the comments made above in promotional material. No personal information will be disclosed.”

You what? “Reserve the right to use any of the comments made”. Well if that’s the case, let me click cancel rather than send. Just like that, they lost me in a micro-moment.

Where they went wrong
What’s wrong with this paragraph? Its position. Only after I had invested time providing answers did they indicate that my comments may be used in their marketing and that simply didn’t sit right with me. Suddenly it felt like a personal conversation between me and the hotel had been recorded without my knowledge and played to an auditorium. In a blink of an eye, through a sloppily placed disclaimer they broke my goodwill.

How they could have got it right
What could the hotel have done differently? Two things:

1. Be upfront – they could have told me at the start of the survey that my responses may be used for marketing, giving me the opportunity to consider how I wanted to phrase responses and, in fact, whether I wanted to participate. Leaving the statement to the end meant I had already wasted my time and effort and therefore was extremely annoyed at the subterfuge. It eroded my trust in them.

2. Be clear about your intent – if they were really trying to solicit marketing feedback they should have called it a review rather than a survey. A survey is a mechanism to provide feedback for the purposes of business improvement, not for brochure content. Don’t mislead your customers.

It’s micro-moment mistakes that ruin conversion
While the survey example seems pretty harmless, that is exactly the reason businesses don’t get the conversion they expect from their activities. When it comes to behavioural influence – getting people to take action – it is the small, seemingly innocuous mistakes that undermine effectiveness. That means you need to sweat the small stuff!

We’re talking about the one-percenters; the micro details about how you communicate with your customer and trigger their unconscious behavioural biases.

Language you use on a Call to Action button, where that button is positioned, whether you have secure payment icons at points of payment anxiety, whether you say “save” or “stop wasting”, whether you display staff qualifications in your waiting room and so forth; these are the tiny points of truth in your business about which you need to make deliberate choices. 

And there is no excuse for making the wrong choices when it comes to behavioural influence. Behavioural Economics and related fields provide clear principles on what you should and should not do, so I encourage you to eliminate educated guesswork about how to influence customers and use science instead.

Most importantly, don’t get sloppy with these micro-moments and think they don’t make a difference to your business because, while they’re small, micro-moments are what really stand between you winning and losing your customers.

Bri Williams runs People Patterns, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues.


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