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Neuroscience and CX – How the science of ‘flow’ & ‘friction’ effect Customer Experience

By July 12, 2019 No Comments

As CX becomes more and more of a prevalent force in decision-making, practitioners have begun to seek new insights into the factors that drive consumer satisfaction and loyalty. One lens that is becoming increasingly popular in predicting consumer behaviour, is that of neuroscience.

Neuroscience can grant us an insight into how we can shape the consumer’s desire to seek out an experience, and their tolerances before they move onto the next one. Understanding the science of ‘flow’ between experiences, and what happens when it is interrupted allows the CX practitioner to design experiences that allow the consumer to maximise their engagement.

What does the science say?

In his work Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions (1998), Jaak Panksepp demonstrates the nature of living beings to seek out experiences. Since the publication of his work, many other researchers, such as Temple Grandin, have elaborated on this, describing how the primal emotion of “seeking” is influenced and triggered.

This research can serve as a fundamental guide for how we create great CX. By understanding why and how humans choose to seek out a new experience, we can cultivate CX that better reflects the customer’s interests. Combined with Michael Treadway’s research on how the brain treats effort much in the same way it treats pain, we can glean that while we’re helped in our job by the human act of “seeking”, we have to keep the effort required of the customer in mind. From this, we get the concept of “friction” – essentially, the effort required to progress through the experience. Much like a child on a slide, if the friction is too great, the user can never progress through the experience and reap the rewards.

How do we take this theory and apply it to real-world CX?

  • Create metrics to measure friction in your experiences and measure the accompanying emotions of the friction brands cause. Having this data allows us to identify the points of greatest friction, and smooth them out to afford our users a greater experience. The Effort Assessment Score developed by Terragni Consulting is a framework that enables this.
  • 49% of people expect a webpage load time of 2 seconds or less – make sure your webpages don’t negatively predispose your customers.
  • Use the “peak-end” rule; the user should experience the least friction and most engaging parts of the experience at both the peak, and the end of it. This ensures the best chance of a positive lasting perception of the experience.

The world of neuroscience offers exciting and ground-breaking ideas that can fundamentally change our perception of what it means to have “good” CX, by presenting new insights into how a consumer perceives and remembers an experience. What is outlined above is just a taste of the insights that can be found, and I encourage all readers to keep up with the latest developments in this fascinating field and how it can be applied to improve and evolve Customer Experiences.

Anita Siassios, CCXP