playing ping pong
Industries are ignoring emotion and effort in their customer experiences, creating a problem and an opportunity PHOTO: Shane Drummond

We talk a lot about customer service. 

We talk about its importance to business success and how companies failing to meet customer expectations will be left in the dust. We talk about the value of listening to customers across a range of platforms, timely responses and empowering front line agents with the resources they need to succeed. 

But among all the hustle and bustle, we fail to talk about and actively implement two critical elements of the customer experience: effort and emotion.

Effort and emotion both have the power to make or break the customer experience and yet somehow their impact on long-term business success is rarely addressed. It’s a powerful duo and it’s time we dig into how we can transform the way we engage with customers and build long term relationships.

The Emotion Behind CX

Some industries are more obviously emotional than others. Childcare, for example, is inherently infused with a consciousness for the consumers, an understanding of their feelings and a respect for their most valuable possessions. 

Other industries are intensely emotional, but aren’t as self aware. For example, many customers have strong emotions when interacting with banks or credit card companies because their livelihood is at stake. Despite this fact, customer feelings are slipping through the cracks. 

Research from Temkin Group revealed emotion is one of the weakest points of the customer experience in the retail banking industry, presenting both a problem and an opportunity. More organizations, across more industries, need to understand customer emotions and address those needs. 

The vast majority of companies fail to track emotional indicators as they arise across social media, emails and perhaps most importantly, contact center calls. While companies frequently record call center calls, they rarely comb the data for emotion and as a result, huge chunks of valuable analysis is lost. 

Emotional reactions are powerful factors driving customer loyalty. Failure to acknowledge and understand such spikes leaves companies in the dark when it comes to how consumers really feel.

Positive Emotions Pay

The stakes are higher than companies might imagine. 

Research across 20 different industries indicated customers who have a positive emotional experience with a brand are 15 times more likely to recommend that company, eight times more likely to trust that brand and seven times more likely to purchase from that company. This means brands not forming a positive emotional connection with consumers are at risk of losing customers and directly affecting their bottom line. 

A handful of organizations are beginning to recognize the opportunity here and tap into customer emotion and its ability to drive long-term, loyal customer relationships. Opportunities, for retail banking and others, arise when companies shine a brighter spotlight on the role of emotion in the customer experience. 

This starts with increasingly in-depth monitoring across all consumer touch points for emotional spikes, changes and larger trends. Rather than simply flagging direct inquiries or actionable comments, companies should pay attention to how consumers are asking questions, what their emotional state is and trying to answer why they feel that way. This detailed data results in a heightened understanding of customer perspectives and the emotional relationship they have with a given brand.

In addition to increased attention on emotional data, brands can learn from industries with a strong respect for consumer feelings. 

The real estate industry is one that puts emotion at the heart of their customer service interactions. Agents tend to share direct contact information with clients, build one on one relationships and even give gifts to new homeowners. 

By infusing interactions with empathy and considering individual circumstances, companies can drive long term customer loyalty and impact the customer experience for the better.

‘A’ Really Is for Effort

The second often forgotten factor is effort, which is closely linked and frequently impacts consumer emotional reactions. This refers to the amount of energy a consumer feels a brand puts in to meeting customer needs and expectations. 

Healthcare companies in particular struggle with this. Temkin Group’s research showed the industry scored a full 15 percent lower than the average when it comes to demonstrating effort. This means customers are not feeling cared for or valued by healthcare companies, a risky situation in today’s highly competitive market. 

Neglect, in turn, breeds negative emotional relationships and directly impacts long-term loyalty and as a result, business success.

The hospitality industry is a notable leader in delighting customers — and can show the way for other industries struggling in this area.  

Hotels are notorious for going above and beyond for consumers, from leveraging customer data to revolutionizing their laundry services to better meet customer expectations to using social media to vet consumer coffee preferences. The attention to detail and desire to make consumers feel valued and heard is what separates leading industries from those falling behind in the customer experience. 

While not every organization can make such grand gestures, small changes can have a big impact on consumer perceptions. 

For example, following up with customers after a suggested change has been implemented provides tangible evidence that your company is listening and taking steps to improve the customer experience. 

Additionally, don’t be afraid to champion and market the feedback program. Not only will it demonstrate effort and care by asking for feedback and thoughts, it also increases response rates and as a result, adds value for consumers and brands alike.

A Powerful Duo

Emotion, in any relationship, is about listening, understanding and leaning into the core of how customers are feeling. It’s about seeking to empathize with what an individual needs, in a kind and caring way. 

Effort is what shows customers you truly care about their emotions, are listening to them and constantly trying to improve their experience and their lives. Brands must address and implement these two factors in combination to directly impact the customer experience as a whole. 

We cannot demonstrate effort without authentically engaging with consumer emotions. Conversely, we cannot understand emotions without deploying the effort to listen. 

Used together, the factors create a powerful duo that will overhaul the entire customer experience while simultaneously driving tangible business results across industries.