One of the hot themes for customer-centric organizations in 2016 is Customer Love. But what do we really mean by this and can you fall truly, madly and deeply in love with your electricity supplier or your water company?
What is increasingly obvious is that getting customers to emotionally connect with your organization is critical. An October 2015 report by the Temkin Group on the ROI of Customer Experience demonstrated that emotion, or how the interaction made the customer feel, was the component of CX that had the largest impact on customer loyalty. This was instead of effort (how easy it was) or success (whether they were able to achieve what they wanted in the first place). It is also the element that has received the least consideration by organizations.
The reasons why emotions are important is fairly obvious since they frequently drive decisions and actions. As humans we do not solely operate in a logical way, partly due to the complexity of the world we live in – faced with a maze of choices, sometimes an emotional decision is just quicker than a rational one. Simply viewing, analyzing and interacting with our customers in a highly rational way is missing out on the key driver that emotion provides. Winning hearts and minds is critical.
So, here are five key components that I believe will help develop those emotional connections.
1. Listening to your customer. The key to any successful relationship is listening and understanding. In a personal context, if you don’t listen and are unable to pick up on subtle or not so subtle hints you are likely to be back at the Meals for One section in your local supermarket fairly soon. Similarly, in a business context, do you know what your customer is feeling and can you interpret what they are saying?
Voice of the Customer solution to capture and interpret feedback in real time, via a simple survey or through text and speech analytics tools, can ensure you are not missing out on key triggers such as likelihood to leave. Sentiment analysis can also help to add a further level of emotional understanding.
2. Acting Upon It. What you do with this information is vital. If it’s your wedding anniversary, simply remembering the date is rarely enough unless your partner is very understanding. You need to do something about it to demonstrate that you care and the relationship is important to you. In a business context, the same rule applies. Having obtained insight, it’s important to act upon it and close the loop so the customer knows you have listened, understood and done something about it. Again, a good VOC solution that can alert you to specific issues will enable you to react appropriately and in a timely fashion.
The use of proactive communication is also important to build a sense of caring and understanding, even if the communication may be about something bad (e.g. a service outage). Keeping customers informed and reacting to their feedback when they provide it lets them know they matter to you.
3. Show your personality. When we look for a long term partner in life, certain traits are always high up on any list that you will find. A sense of humor or fun, generosity, kindness and similar traits are usually graded very high, often higher than more aesthetic ones. Yet when organizations deal with customers these are often elements that they try to avoid in order to create a uniform, mechanical experience devoid of emotion. Increasingly it’s obvious that the days of impersonal interactions, heavily scripted to minimize deviation need to be consigned to history.
If we consider the ongoing digitalization shift in Customer Contact, it’s inevitable that there will still remain a certain volume of high complexity and high emotion customer contacts which will require human interaction. These could well be the moments of truth for a customer’s experience and you should ensure your employees are natural, empowered and empathetic in their interactions. With digital interactions it’s just as important to show your personality. For example, witty, personalized social media conversations between organizations and their customers still make the headlines which only goes to show that this is still the exception in how customers are treated. Does your
IVR give a sense of your organization’s personality (perhaps through the choice of voice/music) or is it a strictly functional place for obtaining a balance? The opportunity to add personality has never been greater, so use it.
4. Rewards/Loyalty. It’s natural to provide presents and treats to loved ones at special times be it birthdays, religious holidays or anniversaries. It’s often a way of saying thank you and not given with the intention of getting something in return. The same principle can be applied with customers. Saying thank you for their loyalty and past custom with a suitable reward is far more likely to engender an emotional connection than reluctantly dropping their line rental by £5 or their car insurance by 10% only when they threaten to leave. And if you do make people feel valued then they tend to reward you too.
5. Surprise them. Whilst familiarity is comforting, it’s always useful to spice it up once in a while. This is as true in business as it as in personal relationships. Doing something unexpected can help create emotional connections with customers. This can be effective at those moments of truth when customers are in real need of help but also work at any time. These don’t have to be big giveaways – little extra things (handwritten note of thanks, complimentary snacks in retail stores, small prizes online) can be very effective in interacting with customers. Again, that proactive element of service can really help to create an emotional connection. If you aren’t expecting it, the experience can be so much more impactful.
In conclusion, developing an emotional connection with your customers is key to maintaining their loyalty and future purchase consideration. Research by Beyond Philosophy* has shown that about three quarters of predicted levels of trust and likelihood to recommend are derived from emotional, not rational, factors. Customers may not ever choose to have a heart shaped tattoo of their bank or utility supplier imprinted on their bodies to demonstrate their ‘love’ but they will remember how those companies made them feel and that emotional connection will, more than any other measure, determine their future decision making.
Find out how to create your own
customer love stories
Nick Fifer is a Senior Customer Success Manager for NICE Voice of the Customer. Utilizing his extensive understanding of both Customer Experience and the use of customer feedback in an operational environment, Nick is responsible for delivering both valuable insight and truly transformational Voice of the Customer initiatives to all NICE VOC clients.