Use Your Senses’……Are you tuned into your customer’s senses?


Sight, sound, touch, taste, smell…..and common? How many senses do you use when planning your Customer Experience? If you are like many companies you might not have really given it any thought. If that’s the case you could be missing a trick.


Simple, we all use our senses to gather information about the world around us. This is the root of the Customer Experience. Imagine not having any sight, sound, touch, taste or smell. Without this data input there can be no Customer Experience. But the issue is that customers do use ALL their senses when gathering information about you and your organisation and armed with this information they then make subliminal judgements about you.

Are you in control of this or not?



‘Experiences are inherently personal existing only in the mind of an individual who has been engaged on an emotional, physical, intellectual or even spiritual level’.

Economic Experience Pioneer

Walt Disney

Let’s take a brief look at these senses and the impact they have on the experience;


When we were looking to buy a house I gave my wife a copy of the agent’s brochure and I asked her if she thought they were a quality company. She looked at the brochure, and then picked it up, and without thinking, rubbed the brochure between her index finger and her thumb. Subliminally this was an input for her to judge the quality of the company.


Look at what happens when you go into a supermarket. You are usually confronted by a bright environment. The packaging is brightly coloured or sometimes just plain, all in an attempt to “catch your eye”. The issue here is that there are so many visual messages that your mind can’t deal with them all at once and everything blurs together. Of course we filter the information and then subliminally you look at the packaging, at the size of box, and the design.

Then the “bag of crisps syndrome” hits you. You buy the crisps and you think “boy there are going to be a load of crisps in there!” Then you open the crisps and there isn’t. You are disappointed. How many times when you buy something do you say; “Why did they put it in this size box?” Your physical and emotional expectations are not meet.


Typically in a DIY store you hear the p.a. system blaring out with; “Staff announcement. Would Bert Scroggins go to customer service, there is a customer waiting”. Five minutes later there is another announcement; “Staff announcement, would Bert Scroggins go to customer service, the customer is STILL waiting”.

Haven’t they heard of two way radios, or pagers, or telephones? Why do they inflict this on every customer? Do they think we want to know that Bert Scroggins is going to the checkout? Do they realise that when we heard the staff had not gone to the customer service area this tells us a wealth of information about the company attitude to customers. Clearly the first message is that Bert Scroggins is busy doing something more important that talking with a customer. Secondly, the company has an “inside out” attitude. They are also prepared to inflict this message on everyone as it is the most effective way of sending out this message!

Music has a major impact on how people feel. We are aware of one experiment where it was found that by playing music of a certain style and tempo that customers stayed longer in the shop and paid more attention to the merchandise. In one store that I managed a number of years ago, we had a stock of ‘pavement puller’ music tapes that always drew huge crowds and created that important energy and buzz around the store. It never failed to create sales.


What smell is your company associated with? In a lot of stores it seems to be antiseptic! Again, after a spillage is cleared up no thought is given to what the store is going to smell like afterwards. What do your local supermarket or your shops smell like? I can’t think of anything except the baker’s shop with that great smell of bread.

But again smell is massively underestimated as a way of improving the Customer Experience. In one shopping centre a sweet citrus smell was pumped into the centre to see what the effect would be. People spend 45% more that week on all their purchases.

Anita Roddick of Body Shop fame created footfall into her store in Brighton by dropping the scent of Dewberry perfume on the pavements outside her shop, 100 yards in both directions! The rest is history…

The Challenge:

The issue here is simple. Companies that are not focusing on these senses are missing out on potential riches. Many just focus on sight, with the other senses being dealt with in a haphazard way, if at all. By actively thinking about the senses your customers use in their decision making and how you can enrich that sensory experience will inevitably lead to the creation of great Customer Experience and greater rewards.

As Sergey the Meerkat would say – ‘Simple’.



About Author

With almost an entire career working with customers Kelvin has developed the knack of ‘standing in the customers shoes’ and helping organisations, executives, sales and product teams to see, feel, hear, smell and taste things they don’t experience but their customers do.

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