Capturing emotion for a better customer experience

Published on: January 19, 2017
Author: Pauline Ashenden - Marketing Manager

The original aim of customer service was relatively transactional – a consumer made a query, an answer was provided by the company, the customer was satisfied and the interaction was completed. However, in today’s competitive markets this is no longer enough to win and retain customer loyalty. Consumers will only stay with a brand if they are actively engaged with the overall experience, through an ongoing, two way conversation.

Emotion plays an increasingly powerful role. For example research by Gallup suggests that emotionally loyal customers are willing to spend with a brand even if there are meaningful alternatives available. And consumers with strong emotional connections to retailers, for instance, will visit their stores 32% more often and spend 46%  more than those without emotional bonds.

So companies need to look beyond effectively supporting transactional queries to building strong emotional links between brands and their customers. At the same time, they have to provide the fast, consistent and accurate service that consumers demand as a minimum. Creating emotional links requires brands to increase their understanding of what customers want, capturing this emotion and using it to take better decisions and improve how they operate.

This is complicated by the huge increase in digital interactions – which make it more difficult to understand customers and build empathy as there is none of the context of face to face or telephone conversations. Emerging channels such as video and audio chat can bridge this gap – for example enabling agents to soothe angry customers, show how a problem can be fixed or demonstrate a related product to an interested consumer. These types of chat can turn detractors into promoters in the time it takes to have a conversation. However, for these channels to deliver benefits agents need to build genuine empathy with customers – they cannot solely follow a script if they are to make a real emotional link.

Building empathy begins with capturing emotion and then using it to have personalized, meaningful conversations with customers. Here are three areas for brands to focus on:

1. Sentiment analysis
Understanding the tone of digital queries can be hard – leading to customer frustration as they feel they are not being treated as individuals. Using linguistics to analyze incoming digital queries can help, giving a picture of whether the customer is happy or angry as well as a better understanding of the nature of their query. This allows companies to prioritize interactions, route them to the best skilled person to provide an answer, and empower that agent with the information and understanding they need to provide tailored service.

2. Meeting KPIs
Surveys show that customers expect companies to value their time and provide fast, accurate responses to their queries, through their channel of choice. Therefore, ensuring that brands set realistic KPIs, such as the time they will respond within, and that they then deliver on this promise is vital to emotional engagement. Technology, such as self-service and centralized knowledge bases that provide agents with fast, automatic answers to routine queries, help companies meet their KPIs, building engagement and loyalty.

3. Reporting and analytics
Companies need to continually enhance and improve the customer experience if they are to retain consumer trust and confidence. By using linguistics they can analyze all incoming customer queries, understanding the mind of the customer and using their behavior to predict future actions and proactively take preventative steps to safeguard the relationship, as well as prioritizing areas in the journey that require changes. For example, if a large number of queries are complaints about a particular part of the checkout process and that this is causing customers to switch to rivals, it needs to be addressed promptly, ahead of other planned improvements.

Whatever industry you in, analyzing sentiment helps capture emotion and make better decisions, deliver personalized service and consequently improve emotional engagement with customers, deepening loyalty and driving long term success – even in uncertain times.

Tags: APAC, Eptica, Customer Service, Customer experience, loyalty, Institute of Customer Service, Singapore, sentiment, sentiment analysis, linguistics, Customer engagement
Categories: Trends & Markets, Product

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