How did that make you feel?
A friend supporting a friend
I recently had reason to comfort a neighbour who had been bereaved. All it took was a cup of tea, a
hug and a bit of my time. All willingly given and frankly not a huge effort. It’s a scenario being
repeated all around the world, all the time. Friends supporting friends, strangers supporting
A few days later she thanked me profusely “for making me feel better”. I couldn’t take away the loss
but I had, in a small way, made a noticeable difference to her at a difficult time
Maya Angelou said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but
people will never forget how you made them feel.”*
Impressions will last
When establishing requirements for new online projects I ask people about particular websites and
see them wrinkle their noses in distaste. “It’s so frustrating, you can’t find what you want” they say.
“You can’t save the information”. “It doesn’t let you compare prices”. Common complaints all of
When I press for details people are much vaguer. They don’t remember exactly what they couldn’t
find or how they tried to look for it. The precise failing of the site has escaped them but the
impression is very strong. They know they didn’t like it, and they aren’t going back anytime soon.
Unhappy site users don’t remember what that site said, or did, but they do remember how it made
Take budget airlines, we all use them, we appreciate their ability to offer us low prices and make
trips affordable. But we don’t necessarily like them. We forget that we could only afford that
impetuous weekend away because it was so cheap. We remember that we were charged £3 for an
orange juice and there was no leg room. We remember feeling badly treated. That’s unfair on the
budget airlines, but it reinforces how strong impressions can be.
The consequence for the budget airlines? They have to keep their prices low, there is no brand
strength or goodwill to counteract any rise in prices. If it is cheap and a bit painful we buy. If it’s just
a bit painful, we go elsewhere.
Just the same online
Feeling good is what we aim for when we talk about Customer Experience or User Experience. We
want our customers and our online users to feel good about interacting with us. We want to solve
problems, provide fun and entertainment, make it quick and easy to get things done.
Happy customers come back for more, happy customers tell their friends.
How hard can it be?
Creating a positive impression is not easy, it doesn’t come through luck. To make sure we getting it
right we need to know how customers feel when they interact with us. If we know what works we
can do more of it. When we find out what makes people frustrated or unhappy, we can change it.
Analytics and customer journey analysis are part of our toolkit, telling us which pages visitors looked
at or how often they use our app. This kind of data doesn’t tell us how they feel about it. To
understand that we can use sentiment analysis across social media but we also need to ask
Get it right and your customers will feel like they get a cup of tea and hug from you! They will
remember how you made them feel.
Tools and tips
Sending out an online survey, popping up a quick exit poll on your site, offering incentives to provide
feedback are really easy to do. There’s a great summary of techniques in this SlideShare from Emily O’Byrne
If you are using a survey but want to make sure you are getting the best out of it, read Paul Maplesden’s tips.
Finally, an older but still relevant post from Joel Windels on the Econsultancy blog about using social media monitoring.
How do you find out what your customers think?
Let me know firstname.lastname@example.org
*If you’re interested, the Maya Angelou quote is from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first of
her memoirs. An excellent read.