Customers Emotions are Predictable

Customers Emotions are Predictable

by Colin Shaw on October 22, 2015

Science has begun to predict the intensity of emotions in others with accuracy. This fact is important because when you can predict emotions, you can also plan for them in your Customer Experience.

Why do we need to plan for emotions? Simply put, because then we can manage them in others when necessary.

Over 50% of any Customer Experience behavior is driven by emotions. Emotions cause you to grab the product further back on the shelf to avoid people’s cooties and they are why we buy fishing lures we don’t need (or maybe that’s just me).

We’d like to think we buy rationally, but we don’t. It’s emotional and because of that, we assume it’s unpredictable. However, science keeps taking steps to gain the ability to predict emotional responses in people.

A study published in the journal PLOS Biology out of Dartmouth reveals a way to predict human emotions based on the subject’s brain activity. The Dartmouth team found an accurate activation pattern of negative emotions that estimates how negative a person will feel when they look at upsetting photos. The findings are important for treating people with mental or health disorders, and, on a higher level, for understanding how your brain generates emotions. Moreover, because the pattern they mapped out works “remarkably well” with new participants, it shows emotional responses are similar across large groups of people.

These scientific discoveries translate into helpful prompts for how we handle the emotional moments in our business transactions. Let me explain.

In business, there are times in a Customer Experience when things don’t go well, and it is not your fault. Let’s say there is a weather delay during the holiday season and you work at the airline that now has to inform passengers they aren’t going to make it to their destination. You can’t do anything about the weather or the fact that the news is going to generate stress for passengers.

Here’s where predicting the intensity of negative emotions comes in handy. When you predict the emotional response of your Customers, you can prepare to deliver the news in a way that helps mitigate the impact for the Customers.

Stress is caused by the strain of adverse or pressure-filled situations. In the case of a weather delay and being stranded at the airport, stress is caused by not knowing what to do next. A way to mitigate this is to have resources available that help passengers figure out what to do next. Maybe it’s a referral to another airline or car rental agency. Maybe it’s a drink ticket for the local bar. Whatever it is, it should address the problem of “what to do next,” so it can soften the intensity of the stress the passenger feels during their experience with you.

The idea is that by having a resource available to mitigate the predicted emotional response proactively, you soften the blow of the bad news and create a positive memory for the passenger associated with your airline. And based on the study from Dartmouth, you know those emotional responses will be the same with your Customers.

The key takeaways here are simple: Emotions are more predictable and more common amongst a group of people than you thought they were. When you predict emotions, you can plan to manage them to a better emotional outcome than if you don’t plan. If you work for the airline with no plan for how to deliver the weather delay news to passengers, I predict you will wish you had one of those drink tickets I suggested for yourself.

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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawCustomers Emotions are Predictable