Differentiating Conscious and Unconscious Bias
According to LinkedIn, “conscious bias is when someone is aware, intentional and responsive about their prejudice – like shouting racial profanity at someone. On the other hand, unconscious bias is when one is unaware and performing something without realization.” Customers and employees have opinions on everything – logo design, product quality, product color, product size, pricing, company culture, teammates, work-life balance…etc. Generally, human beings tend to have a bias against certain topics and issues, sometimes without even realizing it. In terms of customer and employee experience, this impacts the way they interact with you as a business owner and as a leader respectively. This blog will help you to find ways to identify behaviors impacted by conscious and unconscious bias that you could potentially face from customers and employees.
Affinity bias refers to having things in common with the people you interact with when they come across your business. According to Indeed, “this type of bias leads you to form a deeper connection with someone you share a connection with or share a perceived connection with.” For example, if you are running a cosmetics business and one of your customers happens to be one of your friends, you are more likely to offer them a higher discount on products as compared to the other customers you interact with. All customers, regardless of who they are and what their affiliation is with you, should be treated equally and fairly.
The same goes for potential candidates and employees. Let’s say a friend of yours comes across your organization on LinkedIn and chooses to apply for an open position. When the friend arrives, you automatically hire them without an interview, which is an unfair advantage to other potential candidates. Having a stable and positive company culture is one of the first things candidates tend to look for when they want to work in a particular organization. Employees deserve to be treated equally. This means, that even if a potential candidate has a connection to a current employee, this doesn’t mean they would go through the interview process any differently than anyone else.
The definition of beauty bias is in the name itself – it refers to how people are treated purely based on their looks. In terms of customer experience, it could be about the physical looks of a customer at a retail store. For example, let’s say a physically attractive customer walks into a clothing store and sees what they like. The business would want to show other customers that physically attractive people shop with them, so they may give the customer extra attention or support in their experience. In contrast, a customer who doesn’t receive this treatment may feel that they aren’t physically attractive, as judged by the store staff. This implies that the store is biased toward or against a certain customer’s looks. Customers should not be judged on the way they physically look in order to maintain a culture of inclusivity and diversity amongst a customer base.
In terms of employee experiences, Indeed mentions that “many hiring managers are biased toward traditionally attractive people.” Rather than looking at the candidate’s capabilities, employers end up hiring employees influenced by how physically attractive they are. Their main criteria to hire the candidate should be based on whether or not they meet the requirements for the given job position. To disrupt this visual-based bias, Indeed suggests organizations can conduct preliminary interviews on the phone rather than in-person, to give employees a more equal footing in the interview process.
Intuition bias refers to people relying on their emotional response to come to a conclusion, rather than relying solely on the facts at hand. For both customer and employee experience, this is purely based on gut instincts. In terms of customer experience, customers rely on their instincts when they interact with store clerks and business owners. Let’s look at the example of a store clerk. Let’s say a customer walks into an electronics shop wanting to shop for a smartphone. By taking a look at the specs and features of the product, customers rely on their gut instincts for what exactly they need to use the phone for, whether it’s for work or personal use. Breaking this bias with clear signage about the pros and cons of different products and clear marketing materials can store employees and customers alike in making the best decisions for their needs, leading to fewer returns or customer service issues.
On the other hand, employees rely on their intuition bias when they interact with teammates, colleagues, and hiring managers. Intuition bias comes into play during two situations – conflict and hiring. Having the intuition that a potential candidate is a “perfect fit” for your organization is a sign of conscious bias. This means you are trusting your instincts on the candidate’s resume and are confidently placing your bets on them to help your organization grow. This may not be the best decision for the workforce, without an equal balance of objective data about the candidate. Hiring should have a balance of both judgment and data to make decisions. On the flip side, when it comes to facing situations of conflict, employees may choose to rely on their immediate instincts to react rather than stepping back and further analyzing the situation at hand. Leaning into logic may help balance emotional responses to tense situations, which can help protect work relationships and company culture.
Generally, bias is a type of prejudiced opinion about a particular subject. Usually, you can tell someone is biased when they strongly voice out an opinion without stepping back to think about what to say. According to Quora, you will know if a person is biased if they “are either speaking or thinking words like Should of, could of, do, don’t, right, wrong, good, bad, like, dislike…or attach attributes or qualities to something.” Expressing a biased or unbiased opinion is a choice. Biased opinions are normally based on stereotypes rather than the real facts. With customers and employees, biased opinions are bound to be formed both consciously and unconsciously. Here’s how they can be identified:
- Ask yourself, does this help or hurt your business/organization?
- Actively listen to what customers and employees have to say about the brand
- Read their body language and expressions
Using these and similar probing questions to inform decision-making, for both customer and employee experience, can help lead to better relationships and better strategies all around.
Addressing Bias in the Customer and Employee Experiences with PxidaX
Customers and employees will always have opinions about your businesses and their products and services. Even when it comes to giving feedback on surveys, their opinions won’t always be fair. Luckily, PxidaX is a great tool that can ensure your business gets genuine and honest feedback. With our expert-designed What Matter Most survey templates, customers and employees can gather feedback and figure out what needs to be done to give honest feedback on your business and its products. Sign up for a free trial today!