Infovores and Loyalty

“Know whose new coffee drinks beat the heck out of Starbucks? … Good ole McDonalds!” she said. “That’s good news. I can’t afford Starbucks anymore!” said another. “Well, I never liked Starbucks coffee anyway. Too strong,” replied another.

This was the start-up conversation in a cancer center’s tiny waiting room as a handfull of patients, all strangers, awaited radiation treatment. While the group conversation started with McDonalds coffee, it soon progressed to other topics of shared interests. I had tagged along with my best girlfriend who is battling blood cancer, and this unlikely setting gave me yet another lesson in the ubiquitous power of word-of-mouth. But it also reminded me that our tendency to give and receive information is “hard wired” into our DNA.

Human beings have an innate hunger for information and are designed to be ‘infovores’ reports Dr. Irving Biderman, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, whose studies on brain activity suggest humans experience real pleasure in acquiring (and sharing) information. This waiting room’s powerful transition from weighty, depressive silence to energized discussion was a testament to infovore behavior! For nearly an hour (the radiation unit was running way behind) we talked, we learned, we shared. The pleasure grew and the time flew. When the long-delayed technician finally came calling, a blanket of good cheer seemed to follow each patient out the door as her name was called. And although the cancer center did not directly orchestrate this ‘event’, the center sure benefitted. No doubt, we all felt better (or, at least, no worse) about that hospital after our “infovore fix.” And that’s despite the fact we had almost an hour wait!

Loyalty Lesson: Want to enhance your customer’s experience and deepen engagement with your brand? Get your customers interacting! For example, savvy firms are establishing online customer communities that enable customers to help other customers. Advises Microsoft’s general manager of community support services, Sean O’Driscoll, “How do you get users to want to stay at your site and engage with others? The only way is peer-to-peer discussion, in their own voices, rather than the company’s voice.”

Comments are closed.