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Scientists might have successfully decoded the alien signals, but can we say if brands have decoded customer experience? Have brands been able to decode the signals of their customers? More so, are brands aware of those 'emerging signals'?

It is not an alien idea that customers give signals to brands about the experience they had, whether it is positive or negative. Sometimes the signals would be straightforward as brands can extract them directly from the reviews and feedback. 

But most of the time, brands need to find these hidden signals from their customer reviews and feedback or the changing trend in their feedback, like reverse engineering. 

The second episode of CX See Why Talk ShowTM focuses on how brands can capture emerging signals from customers. The signals that reveal the customer experience might not be a problem at present but can change into a huge issue later on. 

After watching this show, I bet you will never ignore a slight change in the tone and pitch of your customers' reviews!

The show host,  Dan Gingiss - The Experience Maker™ will explore this industry with our guest - Olivia Raya, the Customer Service Team Lead & Trainer at Rabbit Air, an air purifier brand in the USA. 

Olivia’s 13+ years of experience in the customer service of the air purifier industry will be a significant contribution to the show to help brands understand the invisible ‘reasons’ for a negative customer experience.

 

Can You Guess the Top Drivers of Air Purifiers?

When Clootrack tracked 28000+ reviews of air purifier products, five aspects came up as the key indicators of customer experience in the air purifier industry. 

Arranging them in alphabetical order, Dan asked Olivia to guess the topmost category driver that makes a customer choose an air purifier product.

  • Air Flow
  • Air Quality
  • Ease of Use
  • Noise
  • User Experience

As a seasoned professional in this industry, Olivia didn't need to think more. She knew it was obviously 'Air Quality.' 

"We get thousands of phone calls over there in Rabbit Air. People want a product that works. 'Not noisy' is also important, but I would say Air Quality because that is why they buy it. It has to be something that will meet their needs to improve the air quality," Olivia says.

top driver of Air Purifier- Air Quality

Besides ‘Air Quality,’ Olivia pointed at ‘Noise’ since she felt both Air Quality and Noise always come as the top drivers in her real-life experience at Rabbit Air. That is absolutely reflected in Clootrack’s driver popularity score. ‘Noise’ is right after ‘Air Quality’!   

Because she frequently hears from her customers - "This product would work so amazing, I turned it on, but it's too loud. I can't sleep, so I turned it off". 

She believes it makes sense to see the 'Ease of Use' and 'User Experience' at the bottom of the list. Customers who buy air purifiers will mainly check whether it works well and purifies the air without any other inconvenience like noise. So only a tiny percentage focus on ease of use.

What You See on The Surface

Change in category drivers - air purifiers

If someone shows you the above picture and asks you what could be the change that happened in customer review of air purifiers from the first half of 2021 to the second half, would you be able to answer?

It almost looks the same except the ‘Air Flow’ and ‘Ease of Use’ swapped the position of each other, and ‘Issues & Problems’ was replaced by ‘User Experience’ in the second half.

Even though there is a dip in reviews across all drivers in the second half, they seem identical.

Brands may tend to think that there is no significant concern from customers as they don't see any drastic changes in the key drivers of air purifiers. 

But do you think something is not visible on the surface, and something big is going on beneath it?

Emerging Signals Unravel the Invisible Aspects of Customer Experience

Dan has shown a detailed image of the aspects that experienced a dip in positive reviews from the first half (H1) to the second half of the year (H2).

Main Aspects in Air Purifiers

With a 9.53% dip in the second half, 'Light Type & Effects' has experienced the highest drop. 

Dan was very curious about Olivia's reaction to this data. He asked, "If that means anything to you and what you think this might be talking about?"

Olivia said it often happened in Rabbit Air that the customers called and talked about the issues around lights. But it's not the topmost problem. They talk about the blue lights and LEDs and how they affect them, especially at nighttime when sleeping. 

Scrutinizing the 'Light Type & Effects' aspect deeper, the LED Light' and 'Light Brightness’ seemed to concern customers the most.

Dip in positivity of sub themes - air purifiers

A few verbatims gathered around these themes show the frustration of customers -

“this is a common issue with modern tech products, they feel the need to put blinding led lights on it, i hope the trend stops lol.”

“There's a bright light on the front panel telling you that the front panel lights have been turned off. And it's blue - exactly the wrong color for a bedroom”

“Put black tape over the cool looking blue LED light that is Way too bright when the UV is on. This LED blue light color was a poor choice for a nightlight.”

Importance of Customer Feedback Loop

Olivia has heard similar customer issues around lights in Rabbit Air with the bright light and LED problems, and she counts every customer feedback, even through phone calls or email. 

When she hears these comments, she discusses them with the top-level executives and takes action to solve and make modifications to the upcoming products. She believes it is essential to get back to the customers who raised an issue and say that they have taken their suggestions into account. 

For example, she shared a modification they have done with the lighting based on a customer review. It was around a power button that should turn off when the air purifier is idle.

Dan pointed out that there should be a feedback loop in every brand, but so many companies miss working on this loop. When a brand receives feedback from customers, there are two ways to close this loop.

The first is, bringing the feedback to the top-level people who can do something about it. For example, the R & D team needs to research a new lighting feature, and the production team needs to check how to make it practical. Second, brands need to circle back to the customer and let them know they have considered their suggestion and done something about it. 

If a brand closes the loop like this, it will be the most impressive way to earn customer loyalty!

Which Price Range Satisfied the Air Purifier Customers?

There is an inevitable connection between pricing and customers’ buying behavior. 

There is a misconception about the price and quality proposition, i.e., if a product is high priced, it will be the best quality product and hence not many negative reviews. If a product is cheap, there is a chance that it will compromise its quality which will emerge in its customer feedback. 

Dan was surprised to see that certain products from lower price bands performed very well as per customer feedback.

customer satisfaction across price bands - air purifiers

Typically, there is a belief that less-priced products gather more negativity than expensive products. But it proves wrong here since the products priced lower in L2 outscores in critical drivers such as ‘Air Quality’ and ‘Ease of Use’ aspects compared to higher price bands! 

High-priced products (L5) have got the least positive reviews regarding Noise and Ease of Use.

Olivia was in total agreement with this. When investing more money to develop fancy products, brands think more about the bells and whistles without thinking about the core features like the airflow, CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute), and effectiveness. That leads high-priced products to gather less positivity around the key drivers. 

Moreover, from a customer perspective, the product they purchase should be good enough to do its job accurately. The additional fancy features come as secondary or often unnecessary for products like air purifiers.

The 3 Takeaways From the Customer Experience Analysis of the Air Purifier Industry

 

1. Consumers may buy for one reason but then have problems for unrelated reasons

As we have seen, customers purchase air purifiers for better 'Air Quality,' but then they face issues around noise and lighting. Even though the customer is satisfied with the core feature it offers, they can be dissatisfied with the other specifications of air purifiers.

2. Positivity may dip over time as consumer expectations change and as new customers read reviews

The usage and customer expectations from an air purifier have changed drastically. Consumers' changing expectations may dip the positive reviews around certain aspects. For example, air purifiers have different usage and requirements in pre-covid days than in post-covid days.

3. Catching ‘weak signals’ early is critical to avoiding significant complaints and negative reviews later 

Understanding a drop in positive reviews and taking them into account is vital as that can reveal other emerging issues in the customers' experience. The change in the positive review count in the second half of 2021 has opened up the problems arising in the lights of air purifiers.

To get deep into the discussion with Dan and Olivia, watch the whole show here!

CX See Why – Understand the “Why” of Customer Experience with Dan Gingiss