Why emotion is central to driving customer loyalty

Published on: December 16, 2016
Author: Steve Nattress - International Solutions Director

There are multiple factors that feed into the customer experience. At a basic level companies need to deliver the information that consumers want, as quickly, accurately and consistently as possible. For example, people want answer fast answers – in the U.S. Eptica consumer research found that 57% of people expect a response from insurance companies on Twitter within half an hour, but just 26% of insurers met this deadline.

However, to drive loyalty you need to go beyond that, as Forrester Research, points out in its paper The Whole-Brained Design Of Signature Moments. It defines two groups of factors that are important to the customer experience and which it uses to benchmark companies using its CX Index Score:

  • Quality (ease, effectiveness, and emotion)
  • Customer loyalty (retention, enrichment, and advocacy)

To retain customers you need to deliver an experience that makes them loyal, and that usually comes down to emotion. Essentially, does your brand make them feel good when you are interacting with them? Yet, Forrester’s analysis, based on its CX Index scores, reveals that even the best companies are failing to achieve this.

According to the data, most companies that achieve an ‘OK’ or ‘Good’ score in the CX Index, still only achieve a ‘Poor’ rating or below for making customers “feel good”. In Forrester’s words: “Firms are behind the eight ball in evoking emotions that can positively impact the P&L”.  And this is despite the fact that Forrester’s latest CX Index Data shows overall that companies are improving.

The factors holding back emotional experience
The problem probably stems from the fact that traditional customer experience metrics tend to ignore the emotional aspect of transactions. While they evaluate the factors such as speed of response or accuracy of an answer, they don’t include the emotional impact of an interaction – which may be driven by more difficult to measure factors such as politeness, and how staff converse and engage with the customer. So while the conventional metrics might say that an interaction was a success, failure to engage or lack of understanding means that from a customer point of view it could have been a complete failure.

To make the challenge even harder for businesses, measuring emotion is now much more difficult than before, due to two key reasons:

  1. For many firms the majority of interactions are now digital, there are scant visual clues about what a customer is feeling during a conversation
  2. The sheer volume of digital interactions threatens to overwhelm businesses - however many customer emails or chat sessions a day a company has to process, it has to deliver emotional engagement on all of them

How can companies be more successful at generating positive emotions? Forrester suggests you should focus on special moments that add value and help you connect with customers. You need to be able to analyze and understand the moments that matter, and create experiences that make an emotional connection with customers while remaining authentic to what the brand stands for.

To do this you should look to focus on three areas:

1. Measuring emotion at important points in the customer journey
Because measuring emotion is complicated, it’s better to focus your effort on critical parts of the customer transaction or journey where you can make the biggest impact. For example use techniques such as linguistics to analyze the words used by customers within interactions to help determine their positive or negative emotional state.

2. Expand metrics to cover emotion
Build on your current measurement tools and see if they can be extended to include customer emotions (as well as more conventional metrics such as speed and satisfaction). For example linguistic analysis can be used to identify and group themes in unstructured feedback, to highlight areas where emotional engagement needs to be enhanced, while video-based facial-expression analysis could analyze when customers and employees became stressed during a face to face exchange.

3. Demonstrate the value of measuring emotion
Ensure that you prove the value of measuring emotional metrics by linking your findings directly back to improvements in the customer experience. This will help managers understand why it’s important.

With many companies successfully improving standards in customer service and customer experience, emotional engagement is now becoming the next big challenge that needs tackling. It is a key factor in creating customer loyalty, so companies must find ways to generate these meaningful conversations if they want to build long-lasting customer relationships.

Tags: Forrester, emotion, Customer Service, Customer experience, Eptica, loyalty, linguistics
Categories: Product

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