Emotive customer experience recognises that our decisions are driven by deep seated motivations: the things that really matter to us in terms of identity and personal fulfilment. Tap into these and customers become more valuable in every respect: from advocacy to lifetime spend.
But it’s not so easy for organisations to achieve this quality of relationship. In fact NVM’s most recent consumer survey reports just 13% of consumers feel this way about the brands they engage with. So is it worth the effort if so few make the grade? The answer is unfortunately yes.
Competing for customers has always been an arms race. Advantage from product, price, availability and the like are often diluted or short lived given the level of intense competition most markets generate. The rationale for customer experience management is that it offers a more sustainable advantage when achieved.
The components of customer experience
This will probably remain true for some time since few organisations have yet achieved a DNA level of customer experience behaviour, even though expectations and competency are rising by the day. Much of that improvement has focussed on the fundamentals - transforming internally prioritised processes into low effort customer journeys. This remains work in progress for many as does a renewed focus on customer outcomes – making sure the customer gets what they want.
Both are vital. Without them an organisation risks falling behind in terms of what modern consumers expect from brand engagement. Even then there is a shortfall. We now accept that a satisfied customer does not automatically mean a loyal one. The relationship needs a deeper centre of gravity to retain a customer’s attention and pocket. This challenge is well described when we are reminded that goldfish now have greater attention spans than consumers – however that wonderful stat is actually measured!
The ROI of emotive CX
Emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers (The New Science of Customer Emotions HBR 2015). NVM’s 2018 research discovered comparable behaviour. 63% of people said they are more likely to buy from a brand or customer service agent they had a positive emotional connection towards.
Practical ways forward
So what does it takes to evolve a customer relationship from transactional to emotive?
The first is to generate positive memories of what it felt like to engage with the brand. In truth, our memory is always selective. It’s the peaks (positive and negative) plus the start and end points of a customer journey that stand out and are captured as a record of what happened. Therefore ensure customer teams are trained in leveraging these dynamics.
The second is getting the right balance between live assistance and self service. Or put another way, human and automation. Many digital agendas have an explicit goal of reducing, even eliminating human contact. Sometimes in pursuit of ‘frictionless experience’, more often as a cost reduction target.
This is misguided because it ignores customer needs. Human contact matters. Not always. My rule of thumb is when a situation becomes emotional, complex or needs a relationship boost, people want to engage with people. Admittedly the price of that is a queue but we recognise and accept this when connection is our priority.
It is also true that we hate to waste our time when people add no value to a task that could have been delivered in a smarter, faster way. So effective omni-channel design recognises it’s always going to be a synergy of human and digital engagement.
Finally, we need to make sure that we understand what really matters to customers. Tapping into their original conversations is a powerful way to unearth and piece together the emotional signatures of each customer journey. Once these are understood, they can be coached, they can be tracked, they can be set as improvement targets, they can become a shared language to understand and collectively manage emotive cx. Speech analytics is the right tool for the job.
So in summary, emotive CX is a new emerging discipline for customer service teams. It is right at the core of what really makes customer experience a strategic necessity. The question is how good are you?