How to Create Unbreakable Brand Loyalty through Emotional Connection

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Bob Black, one of our podcast listeners, loves our ideas about evoking specific customer emotions. However, he hasn’t the faintest idea of how to do it from a practical sense. As someone who appreciates the practical application of an excellent theory, Black’s pickle stood out as one I wanted to address here with you readers, too.

In my experience, many organizations fail to evoke a specific customer emotion. Most people agree that customer emotions are essential to an experience. Still, when you ask them what emotion they are trying to evoke, they tend to gravitate towards terms like “positive” or “favorable.” These are not emotions, nor are they specific.

Science supports the critical nature of specificity regarding emotions. Researchers who study emotions are specific. For example, consider the two emotions: anger and sadness. Both are negative emotions. However, anger is a hot emotion that incites action. People tend to lash out when angry. By contrast, sadness is a cool emotion that often leads to inaction and withdrawal. Addressing these negative emotions requires different tactics.

Therefore, regarding experiencing emotions, knowing which positive or negative emotion you have is essential before you can address it properly.

Many emotions exist within those positive and negative categories, too. In my early work with Customer Experience, the Chair of Consumer Psychology in the UK told me that there were around 150 emotions, which all vary to some degree. There could be fewer or more than that, but since there is no official list of emotions, around 150 is a starting point for the discussion.

Therefore, the first thing Black should do is identify the emotion they want to evoke. Specificity is required to identify the feeling with which you are dealing.

As part of this exercise, choosing an emotion that drives value for your customers is essential. In 2005, my fieldwork revealed 20 emotions that drive or destroy value in a Customer Experience. Not surprisingly, the ones that drive business are positive; the negative ones are not so much. (To see specifics, refer to the graphic below.)

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Value means you get a return, which could mean increases in revenue, profitability, customer satisfaction, or decreases in costs. You should also measure the effects of the emotions you choose. If the selected emotion doesn’t inspire customer behavior that moves the needle in essential areas of your business, you should rethink your choice.

You can move forward with practicalities after choosing an emotion that drives value. Suppose we’re trying to make a customer feel cared for or valued. The first practical step is understanding the emotion the present experience evokes before changing anything. Customer behavior can help here.

For example, if the average call handling time is lengthening or there is an increase in online cart abandonment, customer behavior tells you something. It would be best to determine what is happening at these moments. If a specific negative emotion drives customer behavior, examine how your organization operates up to that point in the customer journey. Then, ask, how can your organization improve that emotional outcome through the words or actions taken leading up to it?

We address these words and actions when we undertake our Memory Maker Training. Often, the language customers use in their interactions will give you clues as to how they feel.

For example, if customers say they aren’t sure about something, they feel uncertain. Uncertainty can stem from various sources, but it could be a lack of trust or confidence in your organization. Or feeling that they need to follow up on something because they don’t believe you will handle it. The context of their language can help here, too.

How Training, AI, and an Outside-In Perspective Can Help

Moreover, Memory Maker training can also help your team identify these clues. Then, they can take the appropriate action to steer the customer to a better emotional outcome.

Regarding your team, some people can identify these emotions naturally. They won’t need any training to manage these emotions.

You can skip training if 100 percent of your employees fall into the natural group. However, skipping training is an unlikely scenario because many people cannot do this naturally, and chances are some will join your team. Training on what to look for and listen for can help employees who do not have these skills naturally improve. With the tools to empathize with customers’ feelings, your team can look for signals and practice the right responses to manage the emotional situation.

Artificial intelligence can also help identify emotions. Like your employees who pick up on words and phrases intuitively, AI will hear signals in customers’ communications, their comments on social media, the number of times they call the call center, the type of call it is, and other details. With this well-rounded data set, AI can identify emotions and suggest actions to remedy the situation.

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Of course, learning about how your present experience evokes emotions doesn’t have to rely on technology. You can gain excellent insight by walking your customer journey like a customer. Whether that means going into a brick-and-mortar location, calling the call center, or initiating an online interaction, experiencing the customer journey with an outside-in perspective can reveal a lot, particularly in those moments that could use a tweak or two.

So, assuming that you have identified what you want to evoke, that it propels value for the organization, and that your team understands how to identify customer emotions, you need the actions to help you evoke the proper emotional outcome. Some starters can be:

  • Working on active listening skills
  • Acknowledging customer concerns out loud and being sincere in responses
  • Practicing empathy for customers’ emotions
  • Engaging in proactivity and anticipating customers’ needs

This last one, proactivity, is critical. It shows customers you are looking out for them, and feeling as if you are cared for as a customer drives many of the positive emotions you want customers to feel. Proactivity also shows customers they can trust you to do what you say you will.

In addition, an honest look at how operationally you treat customers can help. For example, if you have too many steps in your customer support process or require weeks to fix a problem, customers won’t feel like you care about them or that they are valued. Streamlining support processes or troubleshooting in these cases can do a lot to evoke the proper emotions.

I hope this advice will give practical steps to evoke specific customer emotions. The bottom line is this. If you have a goal of an emotion to evoke, how you want customers to feel and how you get there will depend on the journey they’re on and how you deliver it. By assessing your current experience and the emotions it evokes, you can strategize how to improve it for them in specific—and practical—ways.

Colin has spoken at hundreds of conferences, including some of the world’s largest brands. Talk to Colin about how he can speak ‘in person’ or ‘virtually’ at your conference. Click here.

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.

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