We all heard about customer experience innovation. While other wonder where to start, others wonder whether there’s any stone left unturned. What about approaching customer experience innovation with goal setting?

The goals of your customers are at the very end of the customer journey. So, if you want to innovate, add value, or simply improve your customer experience (throughout the customer journey), this article might be interesting for you.

We’ll be talking about the goals of your customers and goal re-engagement. After all, pretty much every company picks a returning customer over a non-returning customer, right?

I’ll start by providing a short case study and link it to relevant theoretical concepts. In the end, I’ll try to explain the association between customer journey and customer experience innovation.

Case study: McDonald’s mobile application

The McDonald’s app offers a huge amount of benefits, and over 60 million people downloaded the app already. Personally, I know a lot of people who use the app to get discounts, free meals, or to get other interesting rewards.

Besides, McDonald’s managed to raise in-store app transactions by 235% & raised their sales revenues across six countries in the Gulf Region during the FIFA world cup in 2016.

How? By using high-level targeted advertising & more attractive customized/personalized offerings (T. Karrar).

We all know how these things work: you put resources into advertising / marketing and your sales (should) increase. Definitely when it’s highly targeted to a specific customer group…

Theoretical concepts

But then I asked myself, how does McDonald’s keep these new customers engaged AFTER their initial marketing campaign? The answer lies in their mobile application structure and some buying behavior related insights. Let’s take a look at the image below to start my explanation.

The Path Partitioning Theory

Starting customer innovation experience with Path Partitioning
Path Partitioning Creative Visual

This image is a basic example of the Path Partition Theory by Van den Berghe et al. (2016). This research states that the number of hurdles you have to take to reach your goal affects your motivation and your perception of goal proximity. Fewer hurdles between you and your goal result in higher motivation and a different perception of goal proximity.

In human language: the fewer hurdles someone has to take, the higher their motivation is to reach that goal.

Path Partitioning Basic Visual
Path Partitioning Basic Visual

Personally, I believe this concept is pretty straightforward. BUT, I’ve seen way too many local sandwich shops with a loyalty card with 20 unchecked boxes of € 0,50 to let this theory go by unnoticed.

The Endowed Progress Effect

Let me follow-up on that last statement. IF you’re going to use a loyalty card with (waaaay) too many unchecked boxes, make sure to check out the Endowed Progress Effect (Nunes, 2006).

This effect talks about how people are more likely to complete a task (and faster) when they are provided with an artificial advancement.

By an artificial advancement, Nunes refers to moving a person towards a goal while simultaneously moving the goal away. This means that the task requirement and their reward remain the same.

Let’s take a look at the image below to explain briefly.

Endowed progress and artificial advancement to increase motivation
Endowed progress and artificial advancement to increase motivation

The image above is an example of a process with artificial advancement and a process without artificial advancement.

You can see that the required task (8) and reward (8) remain the same. BUT the structure on the bottom has proven to increase the likelihood of a task to be completed compared. On top of that, the task is completed faster with an artificial advancement.

To move back to our case study, McDonald’s could provide new customers with an artificial advancement after downloading the app for the very first time & repeat this artificial advancement every time a customer claims their reward.

The Effect of Goal Range on Consumer Goal Re-engagement

Now, we’ve seen some interesting, but pretty basic insights into how to motivate your customers to reach a (personal or commercial) goal. However, there is another important aspect: The effect of goal range on consumer goal re-engagement.

Researchers Scott & Nowlis (2013) examined the effect that goal range has on the perceived challenge and attainability of a task. They concluded that the high-end part of a goal range influenced the perceived challenge, while the low-end part influenced the perceived attainability.

Using a single number goal, on the other hand, could be perceived as a compromise. This resulted in a lower perceived challenge and a lower perceived attainability.

Furthermore, they concluded that a feeling of accomplishment elevates the interest in goal re-engagement. This is why they suggest that goals or reward levels should be challenging enough to foster self-learning.

Let’s take a look at the image below to explain this further.

Visual explanation of goal range vs. single number goal
Visual explanation of goal range vs. single number goal

As you can see, make sure to set the goals of your customers or of your company into goal ranges, instead of single number goals.

After reaching the easy (attainable) part, you get a sense of progress & accomplishment. After reaching the difficult (challenging) part, the feeling of accomplishment is even greater. In the end, you’re happy you reached the challenging goal after putting in some effort.

It’s important to realize that the combination of these mechanics should result in a higher interest in goal re-engagement, which should prove useful for (virtually) any company in any given industry.

The difficulty lies, however, in how to decide on the low-end part and the high-end part of your goal range. This depends on your company, your sector, and most of all on the customer journey.

And remember, people like to learn. If you’re reading this, you’re actually the living proof of that! 😉

Moving back to our case study

In the case of McDonald’s, they could set the low-end goal as making the first purchase after installing the app.

Then, they could set the high-end goal as complete 4 more purchases, and share your opinions on a certain topic, share what you’ve been eating lately, or add people to the McDonalds app-network.

Completing this more ‘challenging’ process could then provide a more interesting reward compared to a similar situation where they only have to make 4 additional purchases.

Linking theoretical concepts with the customer journey & customer experience innovation

At their core, the above-mentioned concepts are about increasing your target groups’ motivation to complete a task, while staying on a certain trajectory. It’s about getting insights into the customer journey and finding relevant points of interest to focus on.

These principles might help you with your overall customer experience (CX), and increase your customers’ perception of your brand, based on their interactions with it.

According to Hotjar, delivering a great CX has a lot of benefits. Firstly, it increases customer satisfaction, which in its turn could lead to more positive Word-Of-Mouth (WOM) & more positive reviews.

The importance of positive WOM & positive reviews cannot be neglected, as customers tend to listen more to their peers, than to external messages these days.

Secondly, a great CX might increase customer loyalty, which is pretty difficult to accomplish these days due to increased price sensitivity, increased price transparency, or just because there is a lot more (global) competition.

Let’s take a look at the image below to see the importance of the customer journey and customer experience innovation.

Customer experience innovation
Customer experience innovation

The employee journey, an alternative approach to customer experience innovation

So, I know what you’re all thinking: “These are marketing principles, how is this relevant to me if I’m not a marketeer?”.

Well, to answer your question, let me provide you with another example: HR applications.

A lot of HR application these days use these principles to motivate the workforce in their day-to-day lives. For example, the application shows employees how much progress they have made to their next paid holiday (= path partitioning and perceived goal proximity).

I haven’t seen an app that incorporates the endowed progress effect or the effect of goal range so far. But who knows, it might be interesting to look at because workforce involvement is a hot topic, and it will probably remain so.

To illustrate this quickly, take another look at the image we saw before. What would happen if you place your employees at the start instead of customers? And project delivery, or the completion of a task as the goal?

Maybe you discover something interesting to improve their journey, make it more cost-efficient, discover the possibility of recruiting new employees through positive WOM, decrease sick-leave, or maybe even discover the solution for your high employee turnover…?

Employee journey innovation
Employee journey innovation

This HR example is just to show you that these principles can be used for other means than marketing. They could be useful across strategic groups or stakeholders as well.

In the end, they could be used to get your customers more engaged with your brand/company, motivate your workforce, improve the customer journey, and so much more.

So, I would challenge you to take a look at these principles and try to use them more in every day-to-day topics and not only for your customers.

To get you started on the creative thinking process, we recommend using a design thinking approach. Good luck!

Questions and closing

Before closing, I would like to ask you about your opinions on the above-mentioned topics.

  • Do you think you have additional insights?
  • Do you see more interesting industries, services, strategic groups, or stakeholders you could apply this to?
  • See any relevant theories to support/counter these claims?
  • How could we expand these principles from the digital world into the physical world?

Feel free to let us know, so that we can learn from you as well!


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