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Decision fatigue: What it is and why it’s impacting customer engagement

Decision fatigue

Customer engagement can be negatively impacted by decision fatigue – a state of mental overload that impedes a customer’s ability to continue making decisions. In theory, offering flexible options should allow your customers to choose what works best for them. This provides flexibility and can be a great way to provide a positive customer experience. However, providing too many options or options that don’t satisfy the unique needs of your customers can leave them feeling overwhelmed and confused, especially if they are experiencing decision fatigue.

What is decision fatigue?

Decision fatigue is why we feel overwhelmed when we have too many decisions to make, and consumers today are faced with countless choices. The American Medical Association estimates that by the time the average person goes to bed, they’ve made over 35,000 decisions – and all those decisions take time and energy.

Consumers try to reduce the pressure of decision-making in a variety of ways, including procrastination, impulsivity, avoidance and indecision. Many of these symptoms exacerbate the problem as the need to make a decision doesn’t go away, creating a continuing cycle of stress and anxiety, until they reach a decision.

How decision fatigue impacts customer engagement

Customers facing decision fatigue will often put off making a decision or not make a decision at all. Symend’s recent survey found that 35% of consumers are more likely than ever to ignore emails and texts. As service providers continue to reach out with reminders, these additional communications only add to the decision fatigue, making them feel more overwhelmed and may lead them to disengage entirely.

Alternatively, a customer with decision fatigue may make a decision impulsively to avoid thinking about it further. With these types of decisions, their financial wellness could be negatively impacted, they may become unsatisfied with their services and their relationship with their service provider could be irreparably damaged.

For your customers experiencing decision fatigue, it’s important to understand how offers are being perceived and adjust your outreaches accordingly. Keeping the financial and mental wellness of your customers in mind is critical for an effective customer engagement strategy.

Understanding how decision fatigue impacts behavior

When decision fatigue impacts behavior, it can be difficult to connect with your customers as they struggle to balance their competing priorities. To help your customers overcome decision fatigue, you need to understand the underlying perceptions and motivations behind the behavior. This can be done by:

– studying your engagement effectiveness
– adjusting messaging and testing new outreach strategies
– looking for patterns in when and how customers engage

Something as simple as the time of day they receive the outreach can affect your customers’ degree of decision fatigue.

Learning about and understanding your customers’ behavior can help you achieve better results, while also increasing satisfaction by showing your customers you understand and support them.

Personalization is key to overcoming decision fatigue

Understanding your customers’ behaviors and decision-making motivations are important first steps to supporting them. This understanding also equips you with the knowledge necessary to overcome decision fatigue – once you’ve gathered information on the behavior and motivations, you’re prepared to tailor your customer engagement strategy to be effective and efficient.

When customers receive messages that are personalized and relevant, they are more likely to interact with your brand. According to HubSpot, a personalized call-to-action converts 202% better than a generic call-to-action. And with strong personalization, those improved outcomes are achieved with fewer outreaches – a win-win for you and your customers.

By customizing offers that reflect unique needs and preferences, your customers are more likely to pay attention because it’s something they’re interested in. This makes it simple for your customer to choose a relevant offer that doesn’t risk their financial wellness or their relationship to you as their service provider. These types of interactions are key to building loyalty – your customers feel supported while unnecessary and inefficient communications are eliminated.

Clear and simple interactions create a positive customer experience

Beyond personalization, your customer outreach must be clear and simple to understand. Simplify the messaging and the offer to increase the ease of decision-making, which can significantly impact satisfaction. As determined by Ellen Garbarino and Julie Edell in their article Cognitive effort, affect, and choice, asking too much of your customer’s time and energy can lead to a negative customer experience which, in turn, can affect loyalty.

Decision making when experiencing decision fatigue can be risky to a customer’s financial well-being and their relationship with you. Simplifying the decision-making process and providing a customized offer or solution helps ensure that the customer can make a decision that fits their needs while protecting their relationship with your brand.

The number of decisions facing consumers will only increase as the world continues to become a more complex place but, the good news is, you can adjust to match the pace of change. Continuing to study customer engagement and testing new strategies will keep service providers at the crest of changing patterns in consumer behavior.

Check out Symend’s post-COVID report to learn more about how the behaviors, needs and preferences of consumers are changing.