Should I feel like this? New Research
Wouldn’t it be great to know exactly what your Customers were feeling when they experience your products or services? Well, that day has come a bit closer as a new study out of Cornell University discovers that the brain has certain codes that it uses to interpret our emotions. It turns out that these codes are not unique to the individual. Instead, they are like a language all of our brains speak. In other words, how you feel, is not unique to you.
We know that 50% of a Customers Experience is about how a Customer feels. So understanding how your Customer feels at your various touch points in your current experience plays a critical role in their decision to come back to you.
Despite this, many organizations choose not to keep track of emotions because they are too hard to fit into a spreadsheet. They have difficulty giving time and resources, (and by resources I mean money) to something they can’t quantify.
These findings out of Cornell show us that emotions are not as nebulous and hard to measure as popular opinion believes. In fact, the study showed that brain processes emotions in the same parts of the brain and in the same way even when it’s by different people. In other words, the emotions that you feel are not as unique and are more comparable than you probably thought.
What the Study Discovered about Emotions
The study claims that even though your emotions are personal and unique to you, our brains interpret the signals in a similar way. The different senses and situations share a “standard code” by the brain. This is true whether the experience was pleasant or unpleasant. In essence, the study says that our brains all speak the same emotional language.
The study results came out of Cornell University’s Human Ecology. Published in Nature Neuroscience online, the study presented participants with a series of different images and flavors while taking images of their brains. They then analyzed the results to come up with their conclusion that the patterns were a sort of code that is not unique to the individual but the same for all humans as far as the sensory experience.
What I find fascinating about this research is that it indicates that if you and I both enjoy watching the beautiful sunset, it’s because our brains are interpreting them similarly. Likewise, if I am annoyed by my hold time with Company ABC and hear that you had the same experience, it means that our brains interpreted that unpleasant experience the same way. Our brain codes were in sync.
In addition, I love the idea that the brain has codes for the emotions. So when you are feeling emotion of feeling valued by an employee in a Customer Experience you know that the others feel this same emotional pull have the same code pulsing around in their orbifrontal cortex.
So What Does This Mean for Customer Experience?
This study means a few things to me for the customer experience. One of the biggest things this study reinforces for me is that it isn’t impossible to measure and compare emotions between individuals. While each of us is an individual with an unique perspective, our emotions are not in and of themselves unique. It also gives more rational evidence and scientific fact regarding what emotions are for Customer Experience champions to present with skeptical adopters of the importance of emotions in the Customer Experience. It helps them have the conversation that starts with the doubt-ridden question, “But how do we even know how to interpret what emotions a Customer is having?”
The practical use of this finding is important also. If you find a person who is a good representative of a sample of one of your Customer personas, you can get a pretty good idea of how your experience is being interpreted by that whole group based on the feedback you get from that individual. For others with those characteristics and similar tastes, the emotional reaction will likely be the same. And changes to improve that reaction will also get the same response.
The brain and the field of neuroscience are always striving to better understand the way we think. Whether that’s how we interpret our emotions in different lighting conditions or how we create a new chapter for our experience, these discoveries make it easier to move emotions from the “touchy feely” sector of our thinking. This understanding is critical to making emotions a more natural part of the conversation in business and more specifically, Customer Experience.
If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in the following blogs:
- Behavior Psychology Proves That Event Boundaries Affect Customers’ Memory of Your Experience
- The Emotional Experience: Shedding Some Light on Emotions
- New Research Shows Acceptance of an Emotional Experience
Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books and an engaging keynote speaker. To read more from Colin on LinkedIn, connect with him by clicking the follow button above or below. If you would like to follow Beyond Philosophy click here
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