Listening to NPR recently, I heard a report about a study conducted by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer on the placebo effect, with an interesting twist. According to NPR’s Alix Spiegel…
the study “seems to challenge our basic assumptions about the relationship between the physical body and the mind — and perhaps even our assumptions about the nature of objective reality itself.”
I’m not sure about all of that, but there is at the very least a lesson for small business in there. Specifically, it is the power of perception in creating what we call the personal experience factor, or P.E.F.
As the report states…
“As any casual observer of the hospitality industry knows, hotel maids spend the majority of their days lugging heavy equipment around endless hallways. Basically, almost every moment of their working lives is spent engaged in some kind of physical activity.
But Langer found that most of these women don’t see themselves as physically active. She did a survey and found that 67 percent reported they didn’t exercise. More than one-third of those reported they didn’t get any exercise at all.”
The researcher wanted to see if she could change those perceptions. She divided 84 maids into two groups. With one group, researchers carefully went through each of the tasks they did each day, explaining how many calories those tasks burned. They were informed that the activity already met the surgeon general’s definition of an active lifestyle. The other group was given no information at all.
When she came back a month later, she found powerful evidence of the existence of the placebo effect: The informed (suggested) group had physical manifestations of better health (lower blood pressure, weight and waist-to-hip ratio) while the control group showed no changes.
So what’s the lesson for the little man? For starters, don’t confuse “customer service” (which occurs in the store) with “personal experience factor” (which includes perception and occurs in the customer’s mind). Customer service is part of it, but it ain’t the whole enchilada.
So here’s your homework: What can you do to tweak what you do and what you say in order to anticpate and contextualize the expectations of the customer and their ultimate perception of interacting with you?
What “placebo” can you introduce to make sure the customer has the best possible “perception” of their tangible, physical experience?
To learn more about the Personal Experience Factor, specifically how it relates to the Wizard of Ads’ Advertising Performance Equation, scope out this free download at the Wizard Academy Press website.