How do you feel about your trash?

Date of publication: June 15, 2014


This case study describing research conducted for a US waste disposal company illustrates the degree to which business decision-making is impacted by emotion, for even the most mundane of business services. At least for waste disposal services, it becomes clear that emotions are a key factor influencing decisions for service provider selection, because emotions are a foundation for customer expectations. A successful business will seek to understand those emotions, discover the expectations driven by each emotion as well as uncover potential variations in these patterns among customers. In this way, the business can best align service attributes, programs and even communications to customer expectations, and perhaps design initiatives to enhance the customer experience. Of course, these statements can apply equally to B2C and B2B customers. The issue that applies to business customers, however, is being complicated by the common perspective of business managers who will typically say: “My decisions are totally rational; emotions have nothing to do with it.” This case study illustrates methods and techniques by which “Means-End Chain Analysis” – more often referred to as “Laddering” -- can be adapted for successful application among a business audience. The presentation shows how the technique was used to uncover very distinct emotional and psychological patterns among small and medium sized business customers. The range of emotions uncovered resulted in very different need and expectation patterns. As a result, this waste disposal business learned that it needed to offer substantially different service and program and even communications options for customers.

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