Sentiment of the Week: Cruise Fatigue

By: Clarabridge Team

July 23, 2015

customer experience
customer experience management
Sentiment Analysis

Do you remember the first time you rode a roller coaster? What about the first time you went water skiing, or the first time you attended a sporting event?

Now, here’s a tougher question: Do you remember the second time?

New positive experiences, especially those that have been highly anticipated, leave an impression that can last an entire lifetime, and can shape the way we live the remainder of our lives. We learn something new about ourselves, add a new activity or destination to the rotation of things that we do or places that we go. We look back fondly at the experience that started it all.

The natural byproduct is twofold: that over time, the experience becomes routine and leaves less of an individual impression; and that we as humans have a tendency to romanticize and overhype the formative experience. This is, essentially, nostalgia – a common and natural sentiment wherein the past seems “rosy, and often as more positive than the present,” according to Psychology Today. The shine, as it were, simultaneously wears off of each subsequent experience while it only brightens in our memory of the very first.

This psychological factor can have a profound effect on customer experience – both in the experience that the consumer perceives, and the data that organizations analyze.

Take, for instance, the luxury cruise industry. A study using Clarabridge found that the sentiment among passengers fresh off their first cruise was 1.0 – overwhelmingly positive. However, with each subsequent cruise, the customer approval drops significantly, and consistently. Vacationers who have been on seven or more cruises – ostensibly, the segment of the population that loves cruises the most – report a sentiment that is essentially neutral, a precipitous drop from the opinions espoused by the newbies.

Obviously, in a closed environment that is a cruise ship at sea, all passengers are having (roughly) the same experience, and for the same amount of time. They’re on the same cruise; but for the pros, cruises have become old hat. The same level of service that wowed them initially has become routine and expected.

To an extent, this is obvious – but it’s also an important dynamic to keep in mind.

How can this knowledge help your Customer Experience Management program? For one, it’s a great reason to segment your audiences. The insights that you glean from first-time customers and from repeat buyers will be distinct, and their responses only have full value if you analyze them in context. It’s also a good reminder to constantly innovate and look to improve your product. You can’t replicate the excitement and wonder of a first experience in a general sense, but what you can do is make each experience unique.

This could not be a more important priority for your brand. According to Forrester, emotion – how an experience makes a customer feel – has a greater impact upon brand loyalty than either the effectiveness or ease of the experience. Oceans of feedback available to brands both big and small, and Clarabridge is uniquely adept at uncovering the emotions behind the sentiment found therein, allowing you to determine why the customer feels that way and what you can do about it.

To continue to up the ante for repeat passengers, a luxury cruise line might sail to a different destination, open a new restaurant, or hire a new set of on-ship entertainers. Your customers may be lulled a bit into complacency – but that’s the very reason that you should never allow your organization to do the same. Make sure you continue to deliver fresh, new experiences that continue to trigger positive emotions associated with your brand.

Clarabridge’s blog, Sentiments, helps businesses incorporate customer sentiment and feedback into their business strategy. Published by Clarabridge, Sentiments speaks to customer experience professionals, marketers, customer care leaders and anyone who wants to make informed, strategic decisions that delight customers. Follow Sentiments on Twitter @Clarabridge.