When it comes to attracting, impressing and retaining a loyal and satisfied customer base, emotional engagement should be at the top of your wish list.
The importance of emotional engagement is a drum that CMO's have been banging for quite some time now and with good reason.
Any organisation that wants to measure and improve their customer's experience needs to focus more on how consumers feel during their engagement with the brand, in order to fully understand and appreciate the experience. The big takeaway here is that people mostly make decisions based on their ‘gut-feeling,' not on rationality and logic. So it's important to engage them on a personal, emotional level if you want to measure and leverage the experience.
Emotional engagement is more than just an idea or a theory, though. It's a solid truth and while a lot of business leaders nod along and agree in principle with the notion, how many actually embrace the concept? How many have overseen changes in their organisational approach based on their customers' emotional responses? The simple answer is ‘not enough.'
The consumer has never before been so empowered and informed - gone are the heady days of Mad Men messaging dictating the customer's awareness of a brand. Customer expectation has skyrocketed, and those customers have a voice, and a means to be heard. Everyone is expected to deliver above and beyond - a standard set by the newly formed retail giants. As a result, businesses have to keep up with technology and expectation in an age where even minor slips can prove costly. We all know and accept that customer emotion is pivotal to both spend and brand loyalty, therefore mastering it needs to be the goal of all CX professionals.
But what emotions drive your customers...?
American author, marketing guru and Squidoo.com founder Seth Godin explains how emotions steer consumer decisions by focusing on the one thing we all want, perhaps our biggest driver as human beings - the need to be connected to one another. People want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, as an active member of a community of like-minded people, all doing their bit to herald positive change.
Godin argues in his book, ‘Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us,' that the ability to fulfill people's fundamental need to belong is perhaps a marketer's most powerful weapon.
"People don't believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them. They often believe what their friends tell them. They always believe what they tell themselves. What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves. Stories about the future and about change.
Marketing used to be about advertising, and advertising is expensive. Today, marketing is about engaging with the tribe and delivering products and services with stories that spread.
People yearn for change, they relish being part of a movement, and they talk about things that are remarkable, not boring."
― Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
It's all well and good recognising that your customers' emotions are vital to making them commit to you and your brand. But it's fairly useless a concept if you don't know what those needs and wants actually are. Godin's right, the yearning to belong to a tribe is a core motivator for a lot of people. But to fully understand the base needs of individuals, their basic and elemental drivers, there's an even more useful theory to draw from - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
You may well recognise the model; it's one of psychology's most famous. Originally published in his 1943 paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation,' Abraham Maslow charts what he believes drives people in a five-tiered hierarchical pyramid. The most pressing and basic needs are at the bottom, represented by larger chunks of the pyramid. Fulfill those, and the next drivers above come into play. Tick off all, and the ultimate goal is achieved - ‘self-actualisation.'
Maslow's model is often cited in business as a way of understanding and motivating employees. But consider it as a map to understanding the needs of your customer and it won't be long before you realise the importance of engaging your consumers on an emotional level. The ‘Basic Needs' (physiological and safety) are met when your organisation delivers your product or service, securely, as ordered and on time.
We then move up a level and into the realm of ‘Psychological Needs' (belonging and esteem). Offer an excellent product or service that aligns with a person's way of thinking, and then you can start to make them feel part of your circle (or ‘tribe,' as Godin would say). You want them to feel a part of something - to become a brand advocate for you. Make them want to tell their friends about you.
It's all done by tapping into their emotions. How do you go about understanding how your customers feel? Well, we've come up with seven ways to drive an exceptional customer experience by delving into how emotion motivates your customers.
Not got time to read the whole thing? Check out the key takeaways now and read the rest later.
1) Fully understand your customer's CX journey
Capturing highs during someone's CX journey is tough as they may be forgotten after the event. So it's important to find out how your customers feel when they're in the moment. Don't just assume that a few questions at the end of the process are sufficient for capturing emotions during your customer's experience.
You need to understand and appreciate the whole process customers go through fully. That can be achieved by a combination of empathy, analysis, and continual low-level monitoring. Short and subtle feedback gathering taken at, what a lot of people like to call, ‘The Moments of Truth' is fundamental to an understanding of what your customers feel during their CX journey.
2) Ditch the surveys and actually try to understand the emotional needs of your customers
Retrospective surveys often fall short as a method of accurate information gathering, especially when you're looking to gauge emotion. Fundamentally, they're no fun to complete as a consumer, anyway. Beyond that, a survey is usually a tool whipped out at the end of an experience for the gain of the company. There's often no value in filling one in unless the customer feels compelled to after a negative experience. Worse still, surveys are not able to capture how the person felt at the time they were emoting. They'll only be using hindsight (a less than reliable barometer).
So forget about endless, boring surveys. Relevant and emotion-based questions asked at important touch points throughout the customer's experience are much better measuring devices.
3) Ask for feedback through all peak moments of experience
A study by Harvard Business review states “As customers’ relationships with a brand deepen, they move along the pathway towards full emotional connection…fully connected customers are 52% more valuable, on average, than those that are just highly satisfied.”
People want to give feedback at these peak moments along the pathway when they're actively engaged with you. They're in the moment, their emotions are running high, they have something to say. So why miss that opportunity? Why try to tap them up them weeks later with a survey they won't want to fill in about an experience that they're no longer emotionally engaged with?
4) Allow customers to communicate with you through their preferable channel
So you realise the importance of real-time feedback. You want insights into the thoughts and feelings of your customers at various points in their CX journey. But you don't want to be intrusive and interrupt that journey, especially if it's a positive experience - so what do you do? You take advantage of mobile technology. Ask timely, brief and easy-to-answer questions that solicit instant reactions and feedback from your customers via their smartphone or tablet. It's quick, easy and the data you'll receive will be invaluable. Pro-active comms is something Rant & Rave can help you achieve.
5) Appreciate the importance of the final part of that journey
The customer experience consultants and all-around experts over at The Temkin Group echo what we've already said about emotional engagement:
"While all three components of customer experience - success, effort, and emotion - have a strong effect on loyalty, our research shows that emotion is the most important element."
But when exactly is the best time to take a snapshot of that emotion? We've already mentioned the value of understanding and mapping out your customer's full journey and capturing emotion at each touchpoint. But the most important point is still the final part of their journey.
The insight of The Experiencing Self is instrumental, but it's the reflection at the end of the journey that determines how a customer feels about your company in the long run - how they remember you. Kahneman refers to this, sensibly enough, ‘The Remembering Self'.
6) Focus on building positive memories
Your customer's evaluation of their experience with you will be based on their memory of what happened. So it makes sense to gear up their CX journey with memories in mind. Of course, you want to provide consistent and excellent customer service and a product or service that exceeds your customer's’ expectations. But is that enough?
Today is an age of power for consumers. Your customers are empowered, with their ability to make or break a company's' reputation online. So if you want happy, emotionally engaged advocates as customers, you've got to create memories - and you can do so by providing people with a real ‘WOW!' moment. One remarkable little thing that stays with them.
It doesn't have to a grand gesture. Or even an expensive one. It just has to impress them and stick in their minds. As an example - I recently purchased a large electrical item from an online retailer and to close the experience I was sent a discount voucher for another purchase (not time limited) as a thank you for choosing them. We'll leave to work out just what that might entail at your company.
7) Don't silo - make CX the responsibility of the whole organisation
It can be very tempting to just leave customer experience to ‘the professionals', the people that have actual contact with clients. But in doing so, you're only offering up a shallow and perceptively contrived journey to your customers. You need to make CX go deeper through your organisation.
Modern customers are whip-smart and can smell phoniness a mile off. If you make sure that the whole organisation focuses on - or at the very least is acutely aware of - the role of emotional engagement, this will drive top quality customer experience because it becomes the organisation's culture and not just ‘something we try to do.'
- People are emotional creatures and, as such, emotional engagement is at the core of most customer decisions.
- Most people feel an urge to 'belong' to something. Try to tap into that basic motivator with your ethos and what you offer as an organisation.
- You need to know how your customers feel across the whole of their CX journey, not just at the end.
- Aim to gauge emotions during peak 'Moments of Truth' - you'll get raw and accurate emotional responses.
- Surveys are dry and drab and often fail to capture emotions.
- Mobile technology is key to requesting and receiving timely and succinct feedback.
- Try to create positive memories for your customers to draw on when they think about your brand after their CX journey.
Driving real emotional engagement is much more than just the latest fad, buzzword or trendy topic to simply bring up in a meeting and then forget. Appreciating your customer's emotions is the route to the unparalleled customer experience.
For an even more in-depth look at the importance of emotional engagement, download and read our eBook on the subject, 'The Essential Guide to Emotional Engagement: The Secret to Customer Experience Success', which delves in further into why you need to appeal to your customers' emotions and just how you can do it.
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