You Must Create Emotional Connections With Your Customers

happy customersAmerican call centers often focus on rationale, quantitative metrics when evaluating agency performance.  To be sure, metrics such as first-call resolution are important in helping call center managers assess their teams’ success. But, increasingly, consumers are influenced much more by the emotional connections they make with businesses than by rationale.

EMOTIONS AND THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Maya Angelou once said:  “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Writing in Retail Customer Experience, Brandtrust CEO Daryl Travis notes that “according to psychologists, what people remember about a customer experience is determined by the intensity of emotions created in specific moments-not the overall experience.  Our non-conscious mind categorizes and catalogues experiences according to the nature and intensity of emotions.”

Satisfaction is meaningless when customers don't feel connected to a business. 

Research indicates that buying is not a rational process-- which puts emotional engagement at the center of the customer experience.  The study concluded that businesses that optimize this emotional connection outperform competitors by 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth.

And, according to a study by Mori, emotionally engaged customers are:

  • At least three times more likely to recommend a product or service
  • Three times more likely to re-purchase
  • Less likely to shop around (44% said they rarely shop around)
  • Much less price sensitive (33% said they would need a discount of over 20% before they would defect to a competitive product or service).

HOW TO BUILD EMOTIONAL CONNECTIONS WITH CUSTOMERS

So, the research tells us that emotions count when developing relationships with customers.  But how do companies build these connections in a business environment powered by rational thinking?  Diane Berenbaum of Communico suggests the following four steps:

  1. Put the customer at the forefront of everything you do:  Examine your processes, procedures and, in particular, the messages you are sending to your employees.  Companies need to step back and ask themselves if the focus of their organization is truly on the customer.  Every time Wells Fargo serves a customer, they encourage their managers and employees to ask:  “If I were the customer in this situation, how would this experience feel for me?”
  2.  Get closer to customers’ emotionality:  Getting closer to customers requires empathy.  The more employees can understand customers’ experiences, along with their feelings and expectations, the better they can serve them.  At the Fairmount San Francisco, new employees get the same penthouse champagne toast the organization uses to attract customers.  At many other Fairmount properties, employees arriving for their first day have their cars valet parked or get vouchers for a free night’s stay.  The hotel chain stresses that these are much more than perks.  These special treats are a practical way for associates to learn how a superior customer experience should feel.
  3. Listen, Really Listen:  Today, there are many ways to listen and learn what customers think about and expect from your brand: phone, email, social media and chat, to name a few.  Walgreens is a perennial top-ranked company for customer service. By creating the industry’s first drive-through pharmacy, the company addressed the needs of customers balancing hectic professional and personal lives.
  4. Demonstrate Respect:  Listening is only one part of the customer experience equation.  It is important to respond to customers in a way that demonstrates understanding and respect for their concerns and issues.  It is also important to deliver on promises in a timely manner and to also have a sense of urgency when responding to immediate problems.  While respecting consumers is important, it can be equally important to show similar respect to associates.  Celebrating victories and publicizing superior customer service stories internally is an excellent way to instill a culture of respect within an organization.

Here’s one other lesson for American call centers to consider:  emotional connections work both ways.  Customers tend to be more loyal to a brand they feel personally connected to and the service agents who have helped create those strong emotional connections perform better over time. 

 

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