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Special Edition: Emotion Analytics

March 12, 2019

This special edition podcast, featuring Peter Dorrington from TTEC provides us with an insight into his recent Emotion Analytics Workshop in partnership with the CXPA (Customer Experience Professional Association). As well as emotion analytics, the podcast also addresses strategy formation, employee experience, employee CX training, and contact centre operations.

Download Peter's Workshop Slides


Episode Transcript:

Neil Russell-Smith: Welcome to the CX POD Europe From TTEC, your customer experience podcast providing thought leadership and executive insight on customer issues. My name is Neil Russell-Smith and today we have a special edition were we will be talking about emotional analytics, and we are specifically going to review a workshop that Peter Dorrington our director of insights here at TTEC recently conducted for the Customer Experience Professionals Association or CXPA. So we're going to sort of jump straight in and joining us in the studio is Peter.

So Peter, I see the event was all about customer experience and how this ideally sort of makes you feel and I noticed that you introduced the concept of commoditisation. So, can you tell me more about what that means?

Peter Dorrington: Hi Neil, so commoditisation happened as a result of the choice explosion. As consumers we suddenly found ourselves able to source anything we want from anywhere in the world. Now that naturally leads to complexity. So we try to simplify the complex to the simple. And one way to do that is to class all of these different products and services together. So they became Commodities.

Now the problem with commodities is that they're defined by what they have in common. And so if you're competing in a commodity sector like retail financial services, then we're looking towards customer experience to set ourselves apart from the competition because it isn't just the product anymore. That's the issue.

The problem with experience is it's not just logic there's emotion involved. So our perception of an experience is both emotional and logical and so the chain of causality if you like goes: Complexity leads to commoditisation, commoditisation leads to homogenisation where everybody looks the same, and then we look to something that sets us apart customer experience and experience and is largely emotional. So that was a link commoditisation to emotions.

Neil: That's great thanks Peter. So I guess why would you look at emotion analytics? Don't we already have lots of tools for measuring customer experience?

Peter: We do but a lot of them are actually based around things like E's or something both subjective like your likelihood to recommend or what degree of satisfaction you are but those are actually more about outcomes rather than the driver. And one of the other challenges is that when we look at experience in the moment, that's completely different from what we remember about the experience. So what we remember is dominated by emotion this enormous links between recall and emotions. Now those tools are much less common and the ability to be able to understand that the experience in the moment may be functionally great, but what the consumer takes away from that and what they recall in the future is going to be different and it's that recall which will drive their next decision.

So when they think back about what happened last time or do I have a similar example, it will be linked to their emotions. So if you can't get to the underlying emotion the best you can do is use a proxy like a recommendation score or a rating or some quantitative score that we rely on to give us an indication of are we doing a good job for these individual consumers?

Neil: I think I recently saw a stat for every one bad experience, I think it takes something like twelve good once to sort of regain that loyalty and that kind of affinity I guess to a brand, so yeah, very poignant. So in the workshop itself, you mentioned lots of different emotions and basically you know what you're looking for and how do you measure them?

Peter: Yeah, so that there's been a lot of research about emotions, they're more than just positive or negative which is often what we think about in sentiment, they're things like joy and surprise and sadness lots of individual emotions. Now many of them are completely universal, we all feel them they're centreed to who we are that we have facial expressions that we relate to those.

So we describe things more holistically than if that person feels happy or that person is sad. It's perhaps a degree of they're happy and afraid, like riding a roller coaster. We had those mixture of emotions. Sometimes they're positive and sometimes they're more perceived as negative. Now that again can be slightly subjective. So when we do computer analysis, we don't really care whether we think that fear is positive or negative. We just want to know that it's present and to what degree.

To get to the heart of emotions. You can't use something like a smiley face or an emoticon. That's much too simplistic. If you really want to understand customer journeys then you have to understand customers as whole beings and they're complicated, fickle and they're living in this world where their emotions are coming and going a high speed with different levels of impact.

Neil: Okay, but it isn't just about emotions is it I mean surely there's a bit more sort of complicated sides to things like that?

Peter: Yeah, absolutely. So when I started doing work in this field, it wasn't actually starting with emotions. I looked at what I call the functional criteria. So if you're making a decision, for example that I want to purchase some goods then maybe price is the dominating factor or convenience. So I go to a local supermarket not because I particularly like the brand but it's convenient, it's cheap I can go and get my stuff get out. So on one dimension we could say that behavior is explained by functional criteria, but that's often over weighed by the emotional criteria and emotions can trump logic and that's things like I want to feel happier or I want to feel less afraid than I feel at the moment.

So there's those emotional criteria and sometimes we're in a balance between the two and then there are things like our internal influences. So our personality type and I'm particularly interested in a cognitive biases, which is why smart people do dumb things near our internal rational mind isn't always rational. It doesn't always follow things through so we rarely break out spreadsheets to do fully numeric based analyses. And the fourth dimension that would be external influence if I'm faced with a confusing choice and I'm really not quite sure what I'm supposed to do. Often what I'll do is I will look around and see what others are doing. And in fact, there's a cognitive bias about that which is called the bandwagon effect. I'm going to jump on the bandwagon that everybody else is on. We sometimes call it the wisdom of crowds.

So all four of those are intermingling to explain why we do what we do and then they're also affected by the context so if your car breaks down in the middle of the night and it's dark and scary that's a completely different context and if your car breaks down 200 meters from home in the middle of the day. Same event, different context.

And then the final one and perhaps one of the biggest influences is our personal history. How did I get to this point because that is going to flavour everything else that I think about from this and it all comes down to simplification, human beings do not like complexity. We like things to be simple and instinctive and low energy. So we use these kinds of internal mechanisms to help us choose. If we were computers, we would be running the equivalent of spreadsheets and I hate all the time making purely logical decisions, but we're not and we probably never will be.

Neil: Okay. So should we be asking people how they feel?

Peter: I wouldn't, every time that you do you never get a right answer. So in physics there's this thing called the observer effect. Now the observer effect is when you look at for example light and is it a particle or a wave it depends upon how you're observing it. So the observation affects the phenomenon. The same is true when you ask people about their feelings, they have their subconscious mind which is where the feelings are residing and they're trying to bring that into the conscious mind to translate it into something they can describe but then there's self-censoring they're looking at societal norms and often they're actually not really aware of what's going on in their mind.

So we don't use direct questioning techniques. I don't ask people how are you feeling today or what degree of happiness are you feeling because I'm not going to get a straight answer, we use indirect techniques. So we ask questions that are going to give us stories and in the stories will be words and phrases that we can associate with particular mixes of emotions and when people tell you a story it comes from a completely different place.

Neil: Of course, okay, so we focus on customer experience a lot but don't employees play a big role in delivering CX, you know, what about them?

Peter: Yeah. Absolutely. I so many good customer experience programs have been ruined by the employees or perhaps a bad customer experience program has been absolutely turned around by employees. So employee experience is absolutely intrinsic to delivering a good customer experience.

So whilst we might be able to use analytics to understand what are the drivers of behavior for both customers and employees after all they're both people. One of the things that we need to do is to think about the employees and how do we give them the tools to recognize the emotional state of a customer and then to make decisions about what what should I do about that, do I have the freedom to act autonomously and perhaps give that customer a gift or build loyalty with that customer or am I very constrained.

And one of the things that I think is often interesting is that when I look at customer and employee experience, I will hear people say I had a great conversation with your employee about something that was going really badly. I like your company's organisational people. I don't like your organisation as a company.

So you do need to actually find ways that you can get your employees to make or break that customer experience and it's the making bit make it real to them make it something that significant and they know how to act. Now we've got lots of data that correlates and proves the link between great employee experience and great customer experience and at the end of the day for most organisations, that means improved loyalty, increased revenues, and reduced costs.

Neil: Okay. So here's one for you then I guess if you're about to start a completely new CX program and organisation, how would you actually go about it?

Peter: Well at TTEC we've got this thing called The Vision to Results framework and I like it because it's something that speaks to me. It's got four big dimensions. So there are two rational and then there are two emotional.

So the rational one comes first and that's create the compelling vision. Why do we need to change? What's going to be our future, lots of organisations are very good at coming up with a vision and a mission. The second rational part of that is actually how do we plan and execute, and again many organisations will jump straight from setting the direction to the planning and executing, but what they often do is miss an incredibly important stage between which is to engage and excite the employees, the people that are actually going to be delivering this strategy. So if organisations focus on we're going to do a completely rational program where we're going to set visions and goals and objectives. We're going to have plans and accountability but you have a workforce of things "oh this is just strategy to shore if I wait a year it will go away or I just want to do what I want to do and I'm not here to take part." Then it's going to be a much more problematic program.

And there's a fourth phase and it's also emotional, which is to embed the change so that you can sustain the momentum and make it stick forever. So the sustaining bit about how do you keep the energy in the equation going after you've completed the big transformation program so that it's not just something that happens for a year and then is quietly forgotten in the company or the organisation drifts back to his prior Behavior.

Neil: Thanks Peter. So in summary, what would be the key takeaways for our audience today?

Peter: Okay. So I think I can put this down into a few points starting with humans hate complexity. So they're looking for simplification, what that actually means for many organisations is don't offer customers more confusing choices actually make it simpler for them. That's not quite the same as make it easy, but it does help them navigate the path through that.

The second point is that experience is entirely subjective. It's not something that is entirely rational or logical and that subjectivity comes out of emotion. So if you're not thinking about experience as an emotional encounter, then you're probably missing more than 50 percent of the equation.

Our emotional state is also more than one emotion. We might be aware of perhaps. I'm feeling happy or I'm feeling sad at the moment, but there's a lot more going on than that. So representing emotions in the customer journey by an emoticon isn't giving you the richness of what's happening within those customers and their emotions are only part of the equation anyway. There's those rational criteria that counterbalance the emotional criteria and then there's our internal biases our internal mechanisms if you like in the external ones as well as context and history.

And also don't ask people how they're feeling. They genuinely can't tell you and those of us who are in a relationship for a while always hated that question of what are you feeling right now? I really don't know. So find indirect methods of getting to the same point ask questions that elicit stories because stories do contain emotions, humans are very good at storytelling. We're social animals.

And to have a good customer experience. You really do need to have a great employee experience, employees can make your CX program. But only if they're bought in only if they understand what's in it for them and that means that when you're planning a CX program, yes, you have to come up with a compelling vision and a reason to change and make it real and believable. But you also have to engage and excite those are going to be part of the program before you get to the planning and action stage so that people are motivated and enthused and encouraged to take part in what sometimes is quite a complex transition program.

Finally, it doesn't end when you finish the program. If you've got a good CX program, it should be business as usual for ever and then constantly improved not something that you do that is finished in a two-year program.

Neil: Thanks Peter, so we're going to be posting the slides from Peter's workshop, "Customer Experiences is How You Make Me Feel, onto our micro site.

That's all we got time for today, if you want to stay up to date with the most current news and trends in customer strategy just subscribe to our Customer Strategist Journal publication it is available both in print and online. So goodbye, and thanks for listening. We hope to see you again for the next episode of the CX POD Europe from TTEC.