Identifying hidden needs provides more specific information about customers

According to the research conducted by Aalto University, the emotions, memories and every-day user experience related to using products or services should be taken into consideration in the development of customer loyalty.

The development of customer loyalty requires in-depth knowledge about customers’ needs and behaviour. In the N4S programme, the research group PREAGO from Aalto University collects information about supporting customer loyalty with qualitative and data science methods.

Aalto University has long-term experience in researching customer behaviour related to the usability of products and services. According to a new study, long-term user experiences regarding a product, as well as the emotions and memories related to it, have a strong effect on customer loyalty, in addition to the utility and usability of the product.

“The research shows that in the development of customer loyalty, we should move towards examining the long-term, overall user experience instead of individual, short-term experiences,” Postdoctoral Researcher Sari Kujala from Aalto University Department of Computer Science and Engineering states.

“Hidden needs should also be taken into consideration. Customer loyalty is increased by products that the users can use to express themselves in many ways in their every-day life. Product designers should help people reach their goals and support a positive self-image. The product should have a positive impact on the user’s life and needs,” Kujala says.

Curve-drawing method (UX Curve) for predicting customer loyalty

Kuala has examined the hidden needs of mobile phone users, for example, with the curve-drawing method (UX Curve) that she has developed. In addition to the usability and utility viewpoints, the method takes into account the user’s memories, emotions and long-term user experience regarding the product or service.

“The research showed that in the long term, the appearance, the enjoyment obtained from the use and the self-expression enabled by the mobile phone gain emphasis in its use. It is important for the users to have a phone that reflects their own taste and personalise its services,” Kujala says.

“The phone is shown to friends and the user wants it to look good in the eyes of others. The fact that one’s own phone is better than those of others is a cause for pride. The phone is evaluated with all senses. A nice keyboard and what the phone feels like in one’s hand are sources of joy. A long-term positive user experience is also supported by acting together with others, new applications and content,” Kujala emphasises.

In Kujala’s research, the hidden needs related to the use of the mobile phone emerged in a curve-drawing study, but not in a study conducted with a questionnaire. The curve-drawing method can be used to collect feedback about a product that has already been launched, and it can be used to compare products and predict customer loyalty. This cost-effective method is suitable for the business world, because using it in interviews will take approximately 0.5-1 hours per customer.

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Further information:
– Kujala, S., et al. UX Curve: A method for evaluating long-term user experience. Interact. Comput. (2011), doi:10.1016/ j.intcom.2011.06.005
– Kujala, S. & Miron-Shatz, T. Emotions, experiences and usability in real-life mobile phone use. (2013)