When I was in corporate life, my boss asked me to improve the Customer Experience and do it for the least cost. I remember thinking, “Ok. Sure, but….what is a Customer Experience?” Nobody knew back then. I defined it for myself as the mix of rational and emotional parts of an interaction with a customer, which later became my first book, Building Great Customer Experiences (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002). This idea was revolutionary in that day, but today, the business world has more or less accepted that emotions are a significant part of interactions with customers.
Once you realize that emotions are a significant part of the process, it is time to work them into your business strategy. Today, I will talk about five rules for measuring and managing customer emotions that we shared on a recent podcast.
The 5 Rules for Measuring and Managing Customer Emotions
- Be specific.
- Define which emotions drive the most value for you.
- Measure the specific emotions across the customer journey.
- Design the emotions into your journey maps.
- Train your people on how to evoke emotions.
Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these.
Rule #1: Be specific.
When you talk to organizations about emotions, few get specific about which emotions they want to evoke. Most like to hang out in the territory of “positive” or “negative” emotions.
Figuring out the specific emotion you want your customers to feel after your Customer Experience is foundational to the whole process. For example, many organizations choose some form of “that they can trust us,” and that customers feel “cared for” after the experience when we do this exercise with them. Emotions create different responses in people, which, in turn, inspires other customer behavior. Furthermore, being specific right from the start helps set the stage for Rule #2.
Rule #2: Define which emotions drive the most value for you.
When it comes to rule number 2, you need to do two things. First, you need to understand which emotions they are feeling today and be aware that it may not be what you want. Next, you decide what emotions you want them to feel during and after your experience. Ideally, these emotions drive value. In other words, the feeling you want to evoke should give you some payback, whether that’s revenue, retention, or an increase in Net Promoter Score®.
Any time we veer into the area of emotions, we kind of get to this “squishy” area of psychology and intangibles. Hard-nosed business people are usually concerned about the bottom line, but here we are talking about people’s feelings.
We know the 20 emotions that drive and destroy value. We did two years’ worth of research with London Business School and discovered there were four clusters of emotions:
- Destroying Cluster: When you evoke these emotions, people will spend less with you, will give you lower scores, and will lose loyalty, etc., and all the other things you don’t want for your Customer Experience.
- Attention Cluster: These emotions are what marketing tries to evoke. They get customers’ attention and draw them in. These are essential emotions to evoke, but it is important to note that they do not lead to long-term spending on their own.
- Recommendation Cluster: If the customer feels these emotions, then they will likely stay a bit longer, spend more, and be a good customer.
- Advocacy Cluster: People often ask what the difference is between Recommendation and Advocacy. Recommendation means that people will tell their friends about you when you ask. Advocacy means that people will tell their friends about you without being asked. Advocacy is more proactive than Recommendation.
Understanding which emotion will drive value for you is essential. This grouping of emotions serves as a framework for seeing how the different emotions work together and drive value for your organizations. You don’t want to pick a feeling out of the air just because you think it sounds good. It would help if you connected back to how people’s emotions drive value for the organization, so you don’t lose the interest of the hard-nosed business people who often decide where to spend resources.
Moreover, these business sticklers are right. You should know if evoking these specific emotions you identify are going to drive value. Why would you do any of this work if you’re not going to make money out of it?
Rule #3: Measure specific emotions across the journey.
Why do we do customer journey maps? Why do we worry about the customer journey? Fundamentally, the reason is that things change for the customer at different points in time, and especially when we’re talking about something as ephemeral as emotions. Emotions can change minute-to-minute or based on the situation.
While having a sense of the aggregate overall emotional response that consumers have to your experience is great, understanding how those emotions progress is better. If people come into your experience happy and then at some point get frustrated, it’s crucial to know when so you can fix it. If people come into your experience upset and angry as people might be when they call into a call center to report a problem, it’s useful to know at what stage you can turn that around. A customer’s emotions change over time and based on the situation. When you measure across the journey, you can do something about it.
Moreover, there are external factors that can affect how your customer is feeling. The COVID-19 Pandemic is a perfect example. It would be best to measure those emotional states today so you can respond to your customer. The pandemic isn’t your fault, of course. Still, your customers’ emotional state might mean you need to respond in a new way to overcome additional emotional complications of the situation to get to your optimal emotional outcome.
Most organizations focus on the rational parts of an experience, which we define as the non-emotional parts of an experience, like the price or the shipping service, etc. However, we also know from all the Emotional Signature® research we’ve done, where we determine which emotions are driving the most value for a company. The hidden parts of the experience guide a great deal of value. These hidden parts are emotional stuff.
Rule #4: Design emotions into your journey maps.
When you journey map and break that down into moments, you need to design actions into the customer process intended to evoke the specific emotion you have defined. In other words, you should express your particular plans for your customer-facing employees, like the language they should use or the physical stance the employee should take when listening to customers at each stage of the journey. Once, when working with a pharmaceutical company, we encouraged the salespeople to take off their coats when they went into an appointment to signal they would spend some time in the clients’ practice. These specific moments need to be deliberate and encourage the proper emotional outcome you seek.
Rule #5: Train your people on how to evoke emotions.
Your people should know how to evoke emotions in customers. From the words your people use to describe your product’s benefits or service to how easy it is for customers to order something, your people should understand how their actions affect customers by the subconscious clues sent by the employee’s words and actions.
Moreover, the website should evoke emotions, too. For example, the pictures you use will evoke emotions and ease navigation on the site. In this case, your digital experience is the entity that evokes the customers’ emotion on your behalf, so you need to be deliberate in your strategy to stimulate the correct one with the digital elements.
In my experience, around 20 percent of the workforce have high emotional intelligence and understand how to evoke proper emotions naturally. However, that leaves the majority needing some training. Our Memory Maker Training addresses these skills. We focus on teaching people how to identify the customer’s emotion and responding to it in specific ways to move them to the feeling you want them to feel or keep them there if customers are already feeling the way you want. Training like this is designed to bring everybody else up to that level of natural ability enjoyed by that 20 percent.
One of the reasons we call it Memory Maker Training is because of Nobel-Prize winning economist Professor Daniel Kahneman’s Peak-End Rule. The Peak-End Rule explains that what people remember about an experience is the strongest emotion and how they ended up feeling when it was over. The Peak-End Rule shows us that your people are not only evoking emotions because it’s a good thing to do and drives value but also because they create a memory. As I often say, customer loyalty is a function of memory because people do not choose to return to you based on the experience you provide, but instead, for the experience people remember you provide.
Managing emotions can feel overwhelming. Sometimes, people don’t know where to start. When you’re facing big, sticky, impossible problems, break them down into more manageable ones. In managing customer emotions, that means to be specific, define which emotions drive the most value for you, measure the specific emotion across the customer journey, design the emotions into the customer journey, and, finally, train your people how to evoke emotions properly. Breaking customer emotion management down into these five fundamental rules can empower us and make us feel like we’re can tackle it.
Now, you have a starting point…so, what are you waiting for?
To hear more about this idea in more detail, listen to the complete podcast here.
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 six bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX