• Ivaylo Yorgov

CX Science: how does size sound like?


What:

  • Low-pitch music makes your product seem larger to customers.

  • This only works if your ad is visually rich and provides a good description of the product.


Now what:

  • Make good use of high- and low-pitch music in advertising. If size is a virtue, go with low-pitch music.



I think we often define customer experience too narrowly. Instead, I'm strongly in favour of the definition Andre Schwager and Chris Meyer propose in their seminal HBR article:


"Customer experience is the subjective response customers have to direct or indirect contact with a company. It encompasses every aspect of an offering: customer care, advertising, packaging, features, ease of use, reliability." *

There are several important implications that stem from this view.


One, CX is not the domain of one single department. Instead, it results from the more or less coordinate, coherent, and consistent work of every single employee.


Two, we need to stop talking about Great CX.

  • One of the first things one learns from the literature on emotional intelligence is that to gain better self-awareness, one needs to name their emotions. And the more emotions one can recognize, the better. Otherwise we'd just have two responses to the question "How do you feel?" - "Good" and "Bad". While it is true that some things are inherently good, like service employees being polite, even that might some times backfire - at the end of the day, it's all about the experience you want to create.

  • And second, we don't talk about building a great brand. Or rather, on the surface of it we do, but there is always a much more detailed underpinning brand strategy that details the exact brand positioning.


Three, companies will do well to use all the tools in their toolbox if they contribute to creating the customer experience the company desires to create.

  • On a higher level this includes not only your contact center but also packaging, advertising, product, price, recovery strategies, and others.

  • On a lower level, it includes all the elements of these higher-level areas. For example, how do the distinct package design elements contribute to creating the desired customer experience: think colours, packaging shape, words, sound symbolism, marketing claims, ease of unpacking the product, and so on.


This long preamble served one purpose only: to establish the importance of small and subtle things in creating the desired customer experience.


Now that we passed that point, I wish to offer you an interesting insight on how a seemingly minor thing can significantly affect our evaluations of products - the effect of sound pitch on product size perception.



There are by now a myriad of studies on sound symbolism. The basic premise of all of them is that sounds convey meaning by themselves, i.e. outside or besides the semantic meaning of words. For example, front vowels (like i) relate to perceptions of lightness, close distance, softness, speed, friendliness, and others. Vice versa for back vowels (like u and oo, as in food). And low frequency music conveys aggression, assertiveness, dominance, toughness, masculinity, while for high frequency music the opposite holds true.


Just a couple of years back, two scientists, Michael Lowe and Kelly Haws, set off to explore how the pitch of music relates to product size perception: can you make customers think that your product is bigger by using the appropriate music pitch?


Yes, you can!


For one of their studies, they created two identical versions of one and the same ad for a sandwich and manipulate the pitch of the speaker. The participants who heard the lower frequency version rated the sandwich as significantly bigger than those who listened to the higher frequency one.


In a second experiment, they extended this to a different product category (laptops) and replaced speech with music (again in two conditions - higher and lower pitched). You guessed it, when the ad included lower-pitched music the laptop appeared larger, and for the matter also heavier, so if you are laptop producer you might want to be careful with that.


All in all, if you want your product to appear larger, you now have a tool to do that - use lower pitch music in your advertising. And vice versa, if it's important for you that your product appears smaller (and lighter), don't opt for low frequency music.


I hope this inspires you to further expand your toolbox for creating the Customer Experience you intend to create.



My best wishes for a great day ahead!


CX Inspirations - card 29
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