Emotions affect everyone—including all customers. Influencing their decisions, opinions and loyalty during every journey with a brand, they are a fundamental part of the customer experience, and, as research is finding, also hold the key to tremendous business benefits, whether it’s increased loyalty or lowered churn.

They are also forecasted to be a core competitive differentiator for customer experience in all industries because they directly impact consumers’ loyalty to a brand. In fact, Forrester, in their report, “Understanding the Impact of Emotion on Customer Experience,” found that emotion, or how an experience makes a customer feel, contributed most to customer loyalty in 17 of the 18 industries they profiled, including the hospitality, financial and retail industries.1 Considering that “Loyal customers are less likely to switch to a competitor due to a given price inducement, and these customers make more purchases as compared to less loyal customers,”2 the value of investing in technology and program designs that harness the benefits and ROI of emotions is not only exponential, but also essential in today’s fast-moving, customer empowered environment.

The Power of Emotions in Customer Experience

The neuroscience and psychology behind decision making plays a large role in the study of emotions and CX. While many believe their decisions are based upon logic, the reality is that decisions are most often governed by feelings. Psychology Today reports that, “When an emotion is triggered in your brain, your nervous systems responds by creating feelings in your body (what many people refer to as a “gut feeling”) and certain thoughts in your mind. A great deal of your decisions are informed by your emotional responses because that is what emotions are designed to do: to appraise and summarize an experience and inform your actions.”3 In essence, emotions dictate how we make decisions before the rational part of our brain gets a chance to influence anything.

They also play a large role in the customer journey, because they affect every decision made with a brand, whether it is the decision to renew a contract or the decision to make a negative post on social media. Companies who can influence customer “gut feelings” towards the positive end of the emotional spectrum, have the power to also direct customer decisions for the better, resulting in happier experiences and, ideally, monetary gains, whether through repeat purchases, recommendations or long-term loyalty.

While the study of emotions in CX is still nascent, companies at the forefront of the customer experience are already leveraging many tools and methods to unlock the benefits behind this new area of interest. Some of these tools and methods include:

Understanding the role of neuroscience in program design and culture

Today’s brands are leveraging theories in neuroscience, using them to breakdown and simplify emotions into basic lists. Some of the more prominent core emotions include joy/happiness, trust, gratitude, surprise, sadness, frustration, anger and disappointment, with lists varying from company to company, and methodology to methodology. However, the common denominator between all of them is the identification of the simplest, most prevalent feelings that customers experience during their journeys with a brand. By identifying these feelings, and finding out when and why they arise in the customer journey, companies can uncover predictors of future purchase and loyalty.

Eliminating pain points and negative emotions in the customer journey

When focusing on specific points in the customer journey, many professionals are also making efforts to improve the emotional peaks and the end of every customer journey. This is based on science that states, “People don’t remember every detail of an experience. Their memory is an average of two points in time: 1) the most intense moment (the peak) and 2) the very end…. That means a customer might remember a call with a 5-minute hold time more favourably than one with a 2-minute hold time if the first agent ends the call on a particularly high note.”4

Brands are also:

·   Focusing on unstructured data and sentiment analysis to uncover how customers feel

·   Using alerting to address emotional triggers

·   Closing the loop to validate and act on customer feelings

·   Designing programs that enhance emotional connections

·   Hiring emotionally intelligent employees and creating a culture of caring and empathy

These are only some of the ways that businesses are using emotions to improve their customer experience programs. The technology and research in the field is developing rapidly, meaning that now is the time to learn, invest and set goals for your CX initiatives.

To learn more about how emotions are changing the customer experience landscape and to see how brands are taking advantage of this new field, check out our Resources page here.

[1] Forrester Research Inc., “Understanding the Impact of Emotion on Customer Experience: Emotionally Savvy Brands Combine CX Discipline with Empathy to Make Customers Smile,” July 13, 2015
[2] Wong, A. and Sohal, A. (2003). Service Quality and customer loyalty perspectives on two levels of retail relationships, Journal of Services Marketing , 17 (5): 495-513
[3] Lamia, Mary. C. “Like It or Not, Emotions Will Drive the Decisions You Make Today.” Psychology Today, Dec 2010
[4] Forrester Research Inc., “Understanding the Impact of Emotion on Customer Experience: Emotionally Savvy Brands Combine CX Discipline with Empathy to Make Customers Smile,” July 13, 2015