What are the things that have made you cry at the movies? Was it the scene in Titanic when Jack dies and slips away into the icy water? How can you fail to be touched when you see pictures on TV of starving children in Africa? Who can fail to be inspired when they see disabled/handicapped people fight through adversity and undertake a feat of endurance? The human spirit is what defines us. It is the essence of our being.

The alarm clock rings and on Monday mornings we go into work and seem to detach our hearts; we then spend our business life working on the basis that all Customers are rational and logical beings and only buy on price. How utterly ridiculous! Why does this happen? Why is it that something as obvious as Customer emotions and the effect on Customer retention are lost to business?

I was inspired to write this blog after reading Bill Gibeault of Story Mavericks blog. Bill has a passion for Customer Experience. His recent blog is a good summary of why emotions in a Customer Experience are important. As I read this I started to think what are the reasons people in business don’t think emotions are important? With ten years of experience in the subject here are my top ten reasons:

  1. Businesses have been traditional run by men. Just look at the great TV series ‘Mad Men’. You see how much women were down trodden in the work place and ignored.
  2. Women are better, in the main, at understanding their emotions than men. Women tend to be more empathetic. We can have a great debate on whether that is nature or nurture and/or societal effects but let’s not get into that now.
  3. Businesses like logical/analytical people. These are the people that tend to get promoted and are now in the senior positions in companies. These people tend to do what they are good at, the rational/logical thinking. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  4. Most senior people in organisations are 50-60 years old. In fact the median age for an S&P 500 CEO in 2007 was 55.  This is my age. Us Baby Boomers were brought up on ‘big boys don’t cry’ and ‘be a man’. I bear the scars of trying to convince people that emotions are key aspects of dealing with Customers. When I was in corporate life 95% of my colleagues were left brain focussed. I have struggled daily to get emotions accepted and on to the table to discuss.
  5. Business is about numbers. Clearly businesses are there to make money which requires an analytical approach. The skill of analysing finances and emotions are not easy bed fellows.
  6. As business has become more complex an increased level of rational, logical ability has been needed, again reinforcing this logical approach.
  7. The people who have been revered in business are the tough, go get them, let’s charge over the hill and kill the competition, macho types not the people who are experts on psychology, emotions and other ‘soft’ subjects .
  8. Emotions are soft ,fluffy and difficult to quantify and relate to $ outcome. Our book the ‘DNA of Customer Experience, how emotions drive and destroys value’  Palgrave MacMillan 2007, has gone a long way to showing statistically how much $$$ will be gained from doing this work as well as improving Customer retention and Customer Loyalty.
  9. Back in the day, when growth was around for many markets, people just needed to launch a new product and customers clambered to buy it. Thanks to Joe Pine and Jim Gillmor’s work with the Experience Economy, we know that is not the case anymore. We are at saturation point and now the experience matters the most.
  10. Emotions are hard to define and the science is not precise.

I am now seeing the early signs of people really starting to embrace emotions as an important part of the Customer Experience. As I mentioned in a recent blog, I was delivering a key note speech at a Telecoms event in Miami and SVP’s from Comcast and Tellus told the audiences that understanding and designing Customer emotions into their experience was a key part of their strategy. I predict these ten reasons are starting to change as we start to see growth continuing to be tough, the growth of women in senior positions and the new breed of ‘New men’ kicking out us ‘old fogies’ in senior positions. In the next few years Customer emotions will become part of daily business conversations.

It was ten years ago I started to advocate Customer emotions in the design of a Customer experience with our first book, Building Great Customer experiences, Palgrave MacMillan 2002. It is very gratifying to see that it is now starting to take hold. There is growing evidence this works. One of our clients, Maersk Line, the world’s largest shipping company has recently improved their Net Promoter® by 40 points in 30 months by focussing on three emotions: Pleased, Cared for and Trust. If you would like to hear how Maersk Line achieved this please join us for the webinar on June 21st. register here

Emotions have an enormous capacity to change the results of your organisation. This revolution has started. I advise you to join the revolution now and reap the rewards.

Colin Shaw, Ten reasons why the awesome power of Customer Emotions are not being embraced by business

Colin Shaw is founder & 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. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.

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