Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

An interview with Stan Phelps at the Customer 360 Symposium 2014

In April, 2014, more than 150 customer experience, data, marketing and business  leaders participated in the first Customer  360 Symposium run by Ashton Media.

Today’s post is the transcript of a question and answer session where Mark  Abay of Ashton Media interviews Stan  Phelps, Experience Architect, 9  INCH Marketing (US) at the Customer 360 Symposium.



Stan Phelps, thank you for joining us at the Customer 360 Symposium. Great to have you here.

The psychology of the customer journey


Stan, in your presentation, you focused on the psychology of the customer journey. Tell us a little bit more about that and tell us about some brands  around the world that are doing that well.


I think the first thing that brands need to realise is that customers make judgments about them very quickly, and from the psychology perspective, it comes  down to two things, warmth and competence, and how you can demonstrate that really impacts the overall customer experience, so let me give you a couple of examples.

One is a hotel chain that started in the States and is starting to grow here  in Australia. It’s called DoubleTree  Hotels, and the first thing you get when you check into a DoubleTree Hotel  is they give you a chocolate chip cookie, but not just an ordinary chocolate  chip cookie. It’s warm, it’s large, packed with chocolate chips.

A  great way  to make that signature first impression and to really demonstrate both warmth  and competence.

Another example is Southwest  Airlines, a carrier in the US. A few years back, all of the other carriers  decided to charge for checked baggage. Southwest looked out and said, “That’s  not the way we would treat our customers.” What did they decide to do?

Bags  fly free. Your bags fly free,

It saves customers anywhere between 75 and 120  dollars in the US when they fly Southwest. It demonstrates both that warmth  and competence and it really gives that little something extra to the customer.

The Purple Goldfish moments


You talk about the Purple  Goldfish moments. Are those Purple Goldfish moments? Tell us more about  that.


Well, Purple Goldfish is doing that signature little something extra, and a lot of times if you can do at the right way, it’s something that’s unexpected,  and what people really need to realise about the customer experience is that the customer doesn’t really remember the entire experience.

Stan Phelps - 9 INCH Marketing


They remember moments, and if you can do a couple of signature things to your brain correctly, that really makes an impact, the reason being is that our  brain is programmed, the front of our brain, the medulla literally sends out this dopamine that’s literally like post it notes for our memory, and if you  do those moments correctly, those are the ones that stick, that people remember and more importantly talk about.

The measurable return on Purple Goldfish moments


Stan, often these moments they will come with a cost attached to them, the cookie or whatever it might be. How can organisations be sure they’re going to  get that return from that additional cost?


Right. I have 12 different ways, 12 different types of Purple Goldfish, and six of them are what I call on the value side, so there’s definitely a cost  attached to them.

The other six are more on the maintenance side of the equation, so how you handle them from a service perspective and really the cost isn’t that much, but  to get to your question, you really have to understand if those little things that you do are going to move the needle.

If you take kind of a lean approach and test these things out, you definitely want to do that to make sure that you know that it’s achieving what you want  in terms of the customer experience.

I’ll give you a good example. One of the things I’m a big proponent of is giving that little gift, that little something extra, and there was a study that  came out a few years back wherein a fast food or quick serve restaurant decided to try that out and test it, and they gave each person a little gift when  they walked in and they greeted them.

They simply said, “Hello,” and they gave them a little something extra and it was either a key chain or it was a little sample of yogurt.

They wanted to know how that impacted, how much they bought. The person that was given both the greeting and the gifting ordered 46% more food than the  person that didn’t get it, so in that case giving that little key chain or even that sample of yogurt paid off 10 fold.

You really need to take a testing approach, make sure that you’re fully trotting things out, you’re looking to be able to get that measurable return.

There is no such thing as just meeting customer expectations


Stan, customer experience has become a very important topic for organisations. For organisations that are turning their focus to it or are new to it, what  piece of starting advice would you give them?


Well, I would say two things really.

First, and this is a mantra I am really a believer in, that there is no such thing as just meeting the expectations of your customers. You either exceed  their expectations or you fall short. There is no such thing as just meeting expectations, so you really have to have a mindset of wanting to go above and  beyond.

The second thing is that most companies are going to rush and start to do things for the customer, and from my research, the companies that really get this  are the ones that actually start with the employees first because you can’t have happy customers if you don’t have happy engaged employees.

Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media About Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media
Mark is Content Director at Ashton Media. It's his job to create interesting and engaging conference programs that stretch the thinking of our attendees. Mark works closely with our industry advisors to ensure the conference content is aligned with the needs and interests of our audiences.