Giving goosebumps – the importance of customer experience

The world is changing and with it customer expectations. Today’s consumers are looking for tech-fuelled convenience balanced with meaningful, personalised interactions. As the experience economy goes from strength to strength, brands are rediscovering who their customers are and going the extra mile to build exciting moments into their brand activations.

According to a 2017 study, 86% of business leaders agree that customer experience is vital for success.  So, what exactly makes a ‘wow’ moment?  

Why do you get goosebumps?

Goosebumps take the passive act of observation and make it a lived experience. The observer becomes involved with what they’re seeing or hearing on a personal, emotional level.

Most of us are familiar with the sensation of getting the chills; but what really causes it? While 71% of Brits consider goosebumps to be the number one sign of a great live music experience, only 16% of us understand where this physiological phenomenon comes from. To answer this question, we recently partnered with Harvard researcher Matthew Sachs in a pioneering new study into music and emotion.

Measuring heart rate and skin conductance of participants listening to their favourite music, Sachs analysed the data to develop the first ever scientific theory which calculates the likelihood of getting goosebumps:

While 60% of Brits associate goosebumps with excitement, the study reveals that less obvious factors including emotional intensity, acoustic changes, environment, audience size and even time of day also play a big part.

You don’t have to be a rock star to deliver the shivers though. Creating an amazing experience for your audience means knowing them really well and paying attention to the small details that make a big difference. 

Retail therapy 2.0

Although we tend to think of younger generations as mobile-obsessed, research shows that 60% of Generation Z (people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s) actually prefer bricks-and-mortar shopping - albeit with a digital twist.

We know that when brands put experience at the heart of what they do, their in-store experiences generate attention. For example, with its digital photo ‘Mosaic Maker’ and hands-on play opportunities everywhere you look, it’s the details at Lego’s flagship store that have separated the brand from its major high-street rivals.

From make-up brand Benefit’s Glastonbury beauty ‘drive-thru’ to Dr Martens’ ‘customisation zone’ (where you can personalise your shoes) savvy brands are crafting unique, heart-and-soul brand experiences that turn shopping into a full-blown event. While technology isn’t always the focus - brands recognise the importance of optimising experiences for social sharing and building in convenient mobile and contactless payments to help their millennial customers stay in the moment.

Topshop have been delivering in-store activations for years. With food, festival makeovers and highly Instagrammable window displays, the brand’s flagship store provides a mashup of pop-ups and pop culture. Last Halloween, its Stranger Things 2 event brought back-to-back screenings, exclusive merch and full recreations of sets from the hit Netflix show to Oxford Circus. Thinking even bigger, its Splash! event last summer featured virtual reality headsets and a real in-store slide.

Brands are identifying what they are best known for and rolling with it in a big way. Uniqlo has mindfulness workshops. John Lewis hosts home styling events. Samsung has 360 demos. The Nike store in New York has an in-store basketball court where visitors can try out their trainers. 

A whole new level

This exciting trend seems to know no bounds. In 2012, Felix Baumgartner’s ‘Stratos’ high-profile space-dive for Red Bull saw the Austrian freefall from 24 miles above the earth. An experience for Baumgartner, certainly, but also for the brand’s audience of would-be adrenaline junkies back on Earth. Dubbed the “mission to the edge of space”, the stunt drew 52 million web views and became the most watched live-stream event of all time - cementing Red Bull’s position as the world leaders in brand experience. Phenomenally daring and bang on-brand, ‘Stratos’ saw Red Bull push boundaries like never before and made us think differently about what brands can achieve. Goosebumps all round. 

Of course, it’s not all about space jumping and elaborate multisensory experiences. Creating a great customer journey often means simply empowering people towards those little, everyday wins.

Everyday wins

Tall, double-shot, coconut milk unicorn frappuccino? No problem. Using the latest version of its customer-facing app, Starbucks customers are able to order and pay for their drinks before they arrive. The app also lets the visitor refine their order with a level of detail they might not be comfortable yelling out in a crowded coffee shop – the perfect coffee shop customer experience. There’s no denying it’s a hit with customers; with 23.4 million users Starbucks currently has the most popular payment app in the US.

Vitality is another example. With an app that pairs with users’ wearable devices, the provider has gamified the health insurance market, allowing customers to track their activity and access perks including free cinema tickets and hot drinks and discounts on gym memberships, bikes, trainers, spa days and healthy food.

There are countless others. The recent addition of Airbnb’s YourWelcome feature lets hosts monetise their offering and introduce guests to their city via fully-equipped tablets, complete with maps, tickets and housekeeping instructions. A brand that has built its business on convenience, UberEATS has allowed Uber to extend its no-fuss offering to the takeaway market, helping hungry homebodies live the dream.

From the hyper-personalisation favoured by brands like Netflix and Spotify to Aldi’s ‘30 minutes or less’ food shop promise, the brands winning in the ‘wow’ factor market don’t assume they have the consumer’s loyalty because they offer a good product. They are proactive in their efforts to make their lives better, easier and more entertaining. 

Barclaycard Entertainment

Inspired by our heritage of powering live events and ‘wow’ moments, 2018 has seen the launch of Barclaycard Entertainment which brings together the joy of those little everyday wins with the goosebumps only a live experience can deliver. We’ve taken our Summer of Goosebumps study to some of the UK’s most beloved festivals to find out what gives our customers the shivers. Expect more on that soon.

As volumes of big data continue to multiply, it’s easy to forget that consumers are human beings, hungry for those moments that add genuine value to their lives. Today’s consumers want brands who earn their loyalty by offering perks, personalised customer experiences and seamless transactions. Brands are rising to the challenge, getting creative, refining with every aspect of the customer journey and brand touchpoints. And, proving that when it comes to creating ‘wow’ moments, virtually anything is possible.