Building a Better Economy through Meaningful Experiences

Posted by
Matan Magril
LivePerson Contributor
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 - 11:30

We’re in the business of creating meaningful connections. And that mission fuels everything we do.

But why is it important that a consumer forms a meaningful connection with a brand? Shouldn’t the product or service speak for itself?

Research shows...not exactly. Connectivity is crucial to our sense of community, security, and overall happiness. And this is as true in the consumer-brand relationship as it is in our relationships with others.

But what is a meaningful connection? It depends on the individual and the context or scenario. A customer experience manager might say a meaningful connection pertains to happy customers driving bottom-line impact. Newlyweds, for example, might answer differently, but the value in inherent nonetheless.

A truly good and meaningful experience impacts your sense of community, security, and overall happiness. And it can be measured.

On measuring happiness…

Let’s start with the facts: Not one of the 10 wealthiest countries is listed among the world's top 10 happiest. The US leads the wealth list, ranked by overall GDP. Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, and Norway lead the world when it comes to the happiness index. (If you’re subscribed to the Wall Street Journal, you can check out the rankings in full.)

How does one actually measure overall happiness? The study referenced in the article above considers income, security, trust, and autonomy in its rankings. It also identifies the common theme of connectedness as key in one’s happiness and well-being. From the article:

“The more connected you are, the better you’ll do when an earthquake or a recession hits or you have a personal disaster. […] We want to help people know their neighbors and get involved and be connected. […] Money may talk, the research suggests. But for the best returns, you need a neighbor to listen."

Interested in more? There are entire practices of positive psychology devoted to the same study that hone in on emotion, mood, and life satisfaction.

Connected concepts in the consumer economy.

We can now connect themes from personal well-being and happiness to trends in retail, sales, and the overall economy.

Take the shift in buyer behavior, for example. The Commerce Department, as reported by the New York Times, examines consumers prioritizing experiences over goods. To quote the Times:

"Analysts say a wider shift is afoot in the mind of the American consumer, spurred by the popularity of a growing body of scientific studies that appear to show that experiences, not objects, bring the most happiness. […] And the stores themselves are focusing on transforming shopping into the kind of experience that they say today’s consumer craves. Macy’s, for example, is rolling out beacons at its stores that beam deals and other information to shoppers’ smartphones, and offer points for checking into different parts of the store, to create a more game-like shopping experience."

Experiences bring the most happiness. Those retailers that can outfit an intuitive, personal, positive experience will champion just what consumers are looking for: a better brand connection.

Applying connected concepts in the consumer economy means brands have an opportunity to put people first and connect in a positive way. Start a relationship with your customers, impact a person’s sense of community, and ultimately impact that person’s happiness.

The LivePerson perspective.

Too many brands aren’t following best practices when it comes to their customer service, and it’s leaving consumers with a bad taste in their mouths. This is especially true when customers need to reach a brand, but they’re left hanging on hold (wasting precious time).

Brands currently making consumers wait, listening to mindless music or promotions, are undermining their customers’ worth. No one feels valued when they’re made to wait, which is why nearly 60% of them hang up out of sheer frustration, according to Consumer Reports’ survey. Why pour any more resources into an archaic, frustrating, and painful channel? Brands should invest in something more efficient — and in something that makes people happier.

The answer is right at their fingertips. It’s no secret that people are online and mobile. One simple way businesses can connect with consumers is to meet them on the platforms they already use. As the phone call becomes increasingly irrelevant, brands need to put the 1-800 to bed and start messaging with customers instead.

What’s my time worth? What’s my happiness worth? Which brands show they value my time and investment? Consumers are asking these questions, and brands had better be ready to back up their answer with a best-in-class customer experience.

Doing so just might mean a greater sense of community among brands and consumers — and all that comes with it.

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