We’re experiencing an explosion of choices. The digitalisation of industries allows consumers to source nearly anything they want from anywhere in the world. And this has led to the commoditisation of most products and services. As a result, companies need new ways to connect with their customers and differentiate themselves from the competition.
Enter emotions. I’ll explain why emotions play a vital role in driving excellent customer experiences.
Customer engagement is emotional engagement
As I explained in my recent CXPA Workshop, "Customer Experiences is How You Make Me Feel,” in today’s world more choice often means more complexity, and humans always try to simplify complexity. This gave rise to many goods and services becoming commodities with few differences in product quality. The ease of access and ‘on demand’ services also weakened customer loyalty. What’s more, measures of satisfaction are no longer predictive. Therefore, we need to understand customers better so as to deliver tailored, personalised experiences.
Our perception of an experience is complex, being driven by past emotions and social norms. Experiences are also judged by logic and feelings. And what a consumer takes away or recalls from an experience will drive their next decision with your company. This is why it’s critical to understand how emotions can drive an exceptional CX program.
The heart of the customer experience
Humans hate complexity, they're looking for simplification. What that means for many organisations is don't offer customers more confusing choices, make the decision process simpler for them. Highlight the key differences between similar products or explain how the products complement other products, for example. Saving time for the customer by simplifying the selection process creates value and can generate positive emotions.
What else can companies do to leverage the power of emotions in driving better customer experiences? In our March CX POD Europe podcast, “Special Edition: Emotion Analytics” I outlined three pillars as a foundation for fusing emotion with the customer experience:
1. Our emotional state is more than one emotion. I may be feeling happy or sad at the moment, but there's a lot more going on than that. Representing emotions in the customer journey by an emoticon isn't giving you the richness of what's happening within your customers. Besides, their emotions are only part of the equation.
Our emotional criteria are counterbalanced by rational criteria. There’s also our internal biases—our internal mechanisms, if you like—as well as external biases, context, and history. Companies must take all of this into consideration when mapping customer emotion and behaviour.
2. Do not ask people how they're feeling. The question, “how are you feeling?” rarely provides a straight or honest answer. Instead, leaders should find indirect methods of accomplishing their goal—to understand the customer’s mindset. Ask questions that elicit stories because stories contain words and phrases that can be associated with particular mixes of emotion.
3. A great customer experience needs employee support. Employees can make or break your CX program. Make sure your employees understand the value of an effective CX program and are on board to execute it. With that in mind, create a compelling vision and a reason for employees to support the CX initiative.
It’s also important to keep your employees motivated enough to stick with what can be a complex transition into a customer-centric organisation. What’s more, these efforts don’t end when the program is implemented. Once you have an effective CX program, it should be an intrinsic part of the company and constantly improved.
Know your customer
To truly understand customer emotions, customers must be treated as whole human beings. Humans are complicated, fickle, and their emotions are coming and going at high speeds with different levels of impact. Savvy companies understand this and can estimate what state of mind a customer is likely to be in at each touchpoint and respond accordingly.
An even better company, however, is emotionally invested in its customers and makes decisions that benefit the customer while building a relationship through meaningful interactions and empowered employees. Research has shown that in return, customers tend to buy more and are less price sensitive to such companies. So, which type of company will yours be?