The Emotional Connection: The Future of Customer Experience

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Have you ever sat on hold with your cable provider, trying to figure out why your bill always seems to be more money than you thought it was going to be? Frustrated by this modern-day phenomenon, you hang on through the horrible hold music, only to be transferred several times to someone who tells you your issue will have to be “escalated” to a supervisor who will get back to you.

A couple of days later, you receive an email from your cable provider who declares you one of their “valued customers,” advertising an exclusive deal for their Wi-Fi services. You probably chuckled to yourself as you deleted that email. The last thing you’re going to do is sign up for yet another service with that company, regardless of how good of a deal they pitch you.

You may not realize it while you’re hitting that delete button, but what you just did was what most consumers do these days; decide on a brand not based on price, but on your experience and emotional response to them.

Today’s crowded digital landscape and an ever-expanding eCommerce marketplace means that brands and consumers alike are looking for something more than just a straightforward buyer/seller transaction. By using customer data to provide an enriched and engaging brand experience, you’re providing a deeper emotional connection and a sense that you understand their needs now and in the future. This is the extra something that will keep customers faithful to your brand.

Emotions and Experience Control Purchase Power

Smart, future-focused brands have been looking at the emotional side of customer experience strategy for some time now, because when you use emotion to drive your CX efforts, it becomes a powerful differentiator between your brand and your competitors.

More companies are getting better at the functional basics of customer experience, like responding in a timely manner to questions, streamlining the purchase process, and providing potential product recommendations. Brands that are thinking of the next step ahead know that they need something unique to offer that separates them from their competition. And what is the most unique thing you can offer? The way you make your customers feel.  

If you think that the biggest driving force behind a purchase is price, think again. Today’s savvy consumer and competitive marketplace has made the reasons behind why a customer decides to buy from a brand much more complex than just what is on the price tag. With so many options for cheaper prices, discount programs, and free shipping, brands that stand out have to offer something more to their customers.

Recent data from Forrester Consulting indicates that how a consumer experiences your brand, and the emotional response that interaction creates, is the most compelling factor behind where they choose to spend their money. In fact, the emotional relationship a customer builds with your brand is so important that it even powers their loyalty and brand evangelism: 92% of those who had a positive experience will buy from that brand again, and 91% are willing to advocate for that brand to friends and family.

Numbers like these prove that knowing how to build a strong emotional bridge can make all the difference in how you cultivate long-term, positive relationships with your customers. So how do you begin creating those strong bonds? By delving into the details.

Big Data vs Small Data

While most marketing experts will agree that emotion’s role in decision-making and brand loyalty is crucial, determining how to harness that knowledge has proven difficult for many. The same Forester Consulting study indicates that 38% of brands don’t really know why a potential customer decides to buy from them.

So why the disconnect between theory and practice? A big cause for the gap is the information and data brands are currently using to achieve a deeper understanding of their clients. Over half of brands indicate they are using big data (e.g., CRM, transactional data, point-of-sale data, etc.) to isolate how their customers will behave once engaged. Big data can be useful in understanding WHAT consumers are doing once they arrive at your website, but it tells us little about WHY they are making the choices they are, or what they will do in the future.

To know that valuable information, it is necessary for brands to zero in on the “small data.”

Focus in on the Details

Realizing the importance of the enhanced personal customer experience and the emotional connection a great transaction creates is the key to grabbing and keeping today’s consumer. 

The Forester Consulting study demonstrates that utilizing small data gleaned from a potential customers values, behaviors, likes, and dislikes is the best indicator of future performance, and the best way to establish long-term results for your brand.

For brands fighting for real estate and relevancy, it’s vital that no opportunity to engage and retain consumers be left behind. And by understanding a “customer’s truth”, you can ensure positive encounters are had through every interaction and deliver a positive experience from all brand touchpoints.