Lisa London, Ph.D., Director, CX Consulting, MaritzCX, examined how customer experience (CX) professionals can help customers establish an emotional connection to a brand during her presentation to Argyle's CX membership at the 2018 Customer Experience Leadership Forum in San Francisco on March 22. In her presentation, "The ROI of Feelings: Understanding the Emotional Connection to Your Brand," London discussed the tie between customer emotions about a brand and a company's strategic outcomes.
CX is a top priority for many businesses around the world. Yet CX professionals sometimes ignore key factors related to customer experiences.
For example, although CX professionals often dedicate significant time and resources to analyze customer data, few of these professionals understand what drive customer experiences. In some instances, CX professionals fail to learn about customer emotions. And in these cases, CX professionals may miss out on opportunities to engage, inform and connect with a company's target audience.
The return on investment (ROI) associated with connecting with customers on an emotional level can be substantial. If CX professionals can foster emotional connections with customers, they may be better equipped than others to help a company increase its earnings and customer satisfaction and retention levels.
"There's real ROI … by making the experience seamless," London said. "We know that companies … that proactively analyze and act on customer feelings report better financial performance year over year. And that's huge."
Customers are emotional, and the emotional relationship that a company builds with its clientele can have far-flung effects on a business' success.
"Emotions matter, and there are actual decisions that you can make based on [emotional] knowledge to drive change in an organization."
If a company makes it easy for consumers to stay connected at all times, this business may be able to build trust with customers. Perhaps most important, this company can provide its customers with engaging, relevant content that stands out from the competition – something that may help a brand differentiate itself from others.
"People are cognitive misers," London indicated. "We have to be selective, whether we know it or not, about how much effort we spend to analyze stimuli that comes at us."
The "gut feeling" associated with a company may dictate this business' immediate and long-term success too.
If a company provides its customers with positive experiences across mobile, social and other platforms, it can help customers feel good about its products and services. As a result, this company can create positive experiences with customers and build goodwill with a broad range of customers over time.
"Our brains are very efficient," London stated. "We take a prior experience and encode it in our memory … as a gut feeling that allows us to bypass the effort of analyzing everything that comes our way every day."
CX professionals also should focus on finding ways to deliver a seamless experience to all customers, at all times. If CX professionals can deliver effortless support and service, they could help a company foster exceptional customer partnerships time and time again.
"We don't behave rationally every day, but there are some situations where our brain is put into hyper-drive and forced to go through effortful situations," London pointed out. "That means when we have a new situation in front of us, we become rational, and we're no longer emotional."
In addition, CX professionals must provide comprehensive customer service training to its employees. If customer service agents understand the value of empathy, they can put themselves in the customer's shoes and treat each customer with care.
"Customer service agents often are trained to focus on the process. They are not always trained to use discretion and listen and adapt their behavior," London said.
CX professionals should explore ways to help customers overcome "decision fatigue" as well. If CX professionals can help customers streamline the decision-making process, they could help customers enjoy memorable experiences.
"We know that companies … that proactively analyze and act on customer feelings report better financial performance year over year. And that's huge."
Going forward, CX professionals should learn about customer emotions and tailor their efforts accordingly. If CX professionals understand customer emotions, they can provide customers with memorable experiences. Plus, these professionals may be able to discover innovative ways to help a company achieve its immediate and long-term goals.
"Emotions matter, and there are actual decisions that you can make based on [emotional] knowledge to drive change in an organization," London pointed out.
Lastly, it is paramount for CX professionals to keep in mind that a company's customers and employees are human beings. And with a human-centric CX, both customers and employees can enjoy mutually beneficial partnerships.
"We are all human. Even if you know intuitively that all of your clients are human, you are human too," London indicated. "And it is critical to design your processes and structures to address the emotions of your customers as well as any biases that your staff may have."
Lisa leads key consulting solutions like CXEvolution and heads up the strategy and execution of thought leadership at MaritzCX. In her consulting engagements, she uses a collaborative, holistic approach to uncover insights and solve pressing business needs.