Bringing Emotion into the Customer Experience
by Ron Welty, Founder & Chief Client Officer
In today's ever-changing digital climate, brands are leveraging the power of technology to improve their experience design in groundbreaking ways that didn't even exist a few years ago. However, despite these great advancements, Forrester found that emotion remains the biggest driver of a great customer experience, outpacing ease and effectiveness. We've outlined why emotion is so important to customer experience and how you can best leverage and measure it at your organization.
Impact of Emotion
Every brand has the potential to evoke some kind of emotion from customers. Whether that emotion is positive or negative can not only make or break the customer experience, but also impact long-term business success. Researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium found that negative emotions like disappointment, anger, irritation, anxiety, and stress last longer than positive emotions like happiness, delight, and enthusiasm.
Furthermore, these feelings can impact customer retention rates and brand advocacy. Temkin Group found that compared to negative experiences, customers who had positive emotional experiences are 15 times more likely to recommend the company and seven times more likely to purchase more from a company.
Creating Emotional Connections
According to Harvard Business Review, "The most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level, tapping into their fundamental motivations and fulfilling their deep, often unspoken emotional needs."
It's important for brands to understand their emotional attributes, or feelings that trigger strong reactions like "trust" and "a sense of belonging." This will give your brand an "emotional inventory" you can pull from to transform the relationship you have with your customers. Here are a few different ways you can bring emotion into the customer experience.
Create an omnichannel experience
HBR found that customers who engage in an omnichannel experience are much more emotionally connected to brands. Take a multi-channel approach to serving your customers by creating exceptional experiences across platforms on mobile devices, mobile apps, social media, telephone, email, live chat, and SMS. Making yourself available to your customers wherever they are shows that you're willing to go the extra mile to ensure their needs are taken care of.
The customer experience is personal. Every customer experiences your brand in their own unique way, so it's important to look at customers as individuals, and not just another figure. A survey by InMoment found that being made to feel important greatly contributed to positive customer experiences.
Get to know each customer personally by leveraging personalized touchpoints throughout the customer journey. This could be as simple as using a customer's name in the dressing room, or more elaborate like leveraging shopping history to make product recommendations.
Create tribal connections
A sense of belonging can be a powerful emotion in the overall customer experience. Especially when nearly half of Americans feel lonely, giving customers the opportunity to be a part of something can have a positive impact. IBM found that brands that tapped into this sense of belonging grew revenue at three times the rate of brands who didn't.
There are many ways brands can create a community and build a cult following, including customer loyalty and membership programs, subscription services, branded hashtags, events, and merchandise.
For example, Harley-Davidson's Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) has built a community of motorcycle riders that's grown to over 1,400 local chapters and more than a million members. H.O.G. creates a strong connection and brand loyalty throughout the company, dealers, and customers by hosting rides and rallies, selling exclusive merchandise, and rewarding mileage milestone achievements.
Have their back
Between security issues like the Facebook data breach and all-out business scams like Fyre Festival in the headlines, building trust has never been more important for businesses. Customers want to feel secure and know that brands have their back, which is why it's important for brands to build trust. The aforementioned InMoment survey also found that feeling safe and reassured was an important emotion in the customer experience.
Brands can build trust simply by delivering on promises. Nationwide, for example, knows how emotional buying a car can be, especially when you factor in cost and safety. The insurance company delivers on its "on your side" brand promise by providing guidance through every step of the customer journey through its Cartopia mobile app. The app provides access to vehicle history reports, car buying tips, trade-in value, retail and dealer pricing, and quotes for loan rates and car insurance to help car shoppers feel more secure about their purchase decision.
Practice empathetic customer service
Empathy means putting yourself in the customer's shoes. Your associates should share your customers' joy as well as their problems. During training, be sure to teach your associates how to be empathetic toward customers. Your associates can express empathy by:
- Listening. Customers want to feel heard. Give your customers the opportunity to speak and allow them to finish before interrupting or offering a solution. When offering a solution, incorporate their exact language to show that you were listening and to avoid any miscommunication.
- Smiling. It may sound corny, but smiling helps your voice sound friendly and warm, even over the phone.
- Being respectful. Never talk down to a customer. Even if it feels like the customer is overreacting, understand that it's not personal. Remember your manners, maintain a level head, and be patient.
- Using positive language. It's important to gain customer's confidence. You can begin by assuring them that you are taking ownership of the problem. Use language like "Okay, we can fix this.." or "I'm happy to look into this issue with you further."
- Avoiding sympathy. This will help you relate with your customers better. For example, instead of saying, "That must be frustrating," try saying, "I understand how frustrating that is."
Measure Emotion in Customer Experience
While many brands focus primarily on metrics like leads and sales, it's also important to look at your emotional connections, especially when it comes to the customer experience. How do customers think and feel about your brand?
IntelliShop's voice of customer programs allows brands to gain a subjective understanding of your customers' emotional connections with your brand. Our customer satisfaction surveys can be implemented using mobile devices, email, register receipts, and more to collect information like measuring the friendliness of your associates to testing new initiatives and programs to obtaining testimonials from customers. We'll then present our findings to you in a detailed, actionable InSite™ report to create a strategy that focuses on creating stronger emotional connections with your customers.
Contact IntelliShop today to request a quote and see how we can improve customer experience at your company.