Why do Inspirometers use emoticons?


Faces_rowThe value-add that a ‘customer’ receives from an interaction impacts them through a number of factors, both tangible and intangible:

  • The utility of the result
  • The ease with which they can understand it
  • Their confidence that it is correct/accurate
  • Their confidence in the process which generated it
  • How comprehensively their issues have been solved
  • The time and effort taken to get there
  • The remaining effort required of them to ‘deliver’
  • Their self-perception as a result of the interaction
  • Their perception of the relationship itself (rapport)
  • The perceived ‘fairness’ of the process and its implications
  • How well any residual concerns have been handled

All of these things are important to the customer’s ‘success’, but the full impact of the end result may be difficult for them to process rationally, and attempts to do so are likely to frustrate anyone who simply wants to retain the key messages from the interaction, and get on with benefitting from them.

However, the end result will automatically leave an emotional response to the experience as the natural product of all of the factors combined. The customer will find that they naturally have ‘a reaction’ to the experience. This emotional response may not be rationally justifiable but it will impact the customer’s subsequent decisions and their retained perception of the experience, and is therefore more likely to be an accurate reflection of the true value of the experience in terms of its usefulness and its resulting satisfaction.

The purpose of emoticons is to quickly and effortlessly engage with that emotional result – to create a visual cue that the customer can easily identify with in response to their recent experience.

The use of words can augment and validate this connection (i.e. provide confirmation that their interpretation of the visual cue tallies with our interpretation of it). However, if words and numbers are the primary or sole method of input, the customer will need to interpret their emotional response to a verbalisation of it (and possibly a rational explanation for it). This presents the customer with the chore of translating their response from ‘right brain’ to ‘left brain’, and disrupts the natural flow of what the respondent is most likely to want to do next. It is therefore much more likely to result in them ignoring the survey (which has no real benefit for them) and getting on with their own priorities.

The contrast in using a simple emoticon based question versus a number of more complex numerical/verbal assessments may be illustrated by considering Microsoft’s Inspirometer trials wherein average response rates have increased between three and ten-fold over the systems the Inspirometer replaced.