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Whitepaper launch: Emotion, choice and being human in customer service

Blog
15th January 2020

Author: Helen Murray,

 Chief Customer Solutions Officer – Webhelp UK, India and South Africa

Webhelp’s latest Disruptor Series Whitepaper, highlights just how important it is for brands to create emotional connections with customers. For the launch of our latest Whitepaper, ‘Emotion’, Helen Murray, Chief Customer Solutions Officer – Webhelp UK, India and South Africa, shares interesting consumer CX preferences, revealed by our newly commissioned YouGov survey of over 2,000 UK adults.


The best brands make us feel something, be it happiness, reassurance, confidence, comfort or nostalgia, they stir the emotions and make connections with us. In fact, emotional connection with customers is something as old as the hills, and is an extremely effective tool!

Emotional connection really matters – as our research shows it can have huge impact on customer loyalty, share of wallet and the amount and quality of recommendations made. It’s imbedded in all aspects of a brand – and yes, human to human interaction is hugely important, but with the right strategies in place, this powerful connection can happen across the full spectrum of brand activity.

The potential for emotional connections are there in what the brand stands for, its status, values and ethos, how it protects and respects personal data, the amount of trust and credibility a brand inspires, and of course at every step of the customer journey.

And Webhelp research confirms this – our YouGov backed survey of over 2000K UK adults, found that the top source of emotional connection was the overall customer experience, with a 53% share of the vote.

As consumers now have almost unlimited access to brands via multiple channels, establishing the right customer experience, with key emotional impact, has never been more critical.

According to the Office for National Statistics, virtually all adults aged 16 to 44 years in the UK were recent internet users (99%) in 2019. This figure rose for the older generation too, from 52% in 2011 to 83% for the 65 to 74 age group in 2019 – swiftly closing the gap on the younger cohort.

The knock-on effect of this is that the consumer audience has become increasingly informed and selective, with very high expectations of customer service, which are prone to clash with business agendas. David Turner, CEO Webhelp UK, India and South Africa, points out that:

“Often there are conflicting operational drivers. There can be a desire to cut costs, keep call times short, and replace voice with lower-cost channels. However, the whole experience needs to be designed to reflect what the customer is trying to achieve. Given customers’ increased ability to self-inform and self-serve, the motivation to speak to a real person can be because the need is complex or urgent.”

As you can see from the graph below, our recent research with YouGov – a full summary of which you can find in the Emotions Whitepaper (link) – shows that high levels of importance are given to most aspects of customer service. And, while speed (87%) was the top priority, choice (76%), human attributes (67%) and personalisation of service (60%) were both rated very highly.

These results are particularly heartening for us as, in October 2019, Webhelp launched its new brand vision of ‘Making business more human’. An essential goal for our sector, as many brands are undergoing a digital transformation, which – coupled with the number of communication channels to be juggled – presents a real danger of distancing customers. Brands must remember that the most engaging communication is essentially ‘human to human.’

Consumer desire for human contact and connection opens up vast potential for brands, as Polly Ashdown, Marketing and Communications Director, Webhelp UK, India and South Africa points out:

“Brands that really ‘get’ the importance of a human angle are focused on building trust, anticipating customer needs, and giving customers the edge. They know that consistency is key to trust and credibility, and focus on the entire experience, rather than one element of the customer journey.”

Our survey uncovered that being human was one of the top five sources of emotional connection with brands – the other four being; the overall customer experience, if a brand is easy to deal with, having similar values, and the quality of interaction.

John Leighton, Head of Customer Service for easyJet, recognises the importance of the whole package approach to emotional connection by saying:

“In terms of the human skills required to build emotional connection, we know that authenticity is key, and we are working internally and with Webhelp on how to make our customer experiences authentic.”

He continues: “We also know that advisor longevity is a key contributor to emotionally connected customers, and Webhelp is a strong force to be reckoned with in this area. For instance, advisor tenure in Cape Town has led to the highest levels of customer satisfaction across the entire company (easyJet estate).”

You can read more from John on how emotional connection is vital to easyJet’s brand positioning in the Whitepaper.

The survey also revealed that some very positive consumer behaviours result from being emotionally connected to a brand. These include; paying slightly more, loyalty, increased recommendation, and sharing of brand experiences. In contrast, only 4% of customers reported that having an emotional connection to a brand would not make them behave in a particular way.

Interestingly, the more affluent the demographic, the stronger the likelihood of affirmative action. Positive behaviours towards brands are, without exception, more prevalent in the ABC1 (the three higher social and economic groups) social grade. With 71% expressing loyalty and 57% willing to pay slightly more if emotionally connected to a brand, there are obvious benefits in creating emotional connections.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the future of CX is about managing and measuring what matters: emotional connections between brands and consumers – across all stages in the customer journey.

Brands must learn how to strengthen customer’s emotional connection, by providing intelligent ‘human’ conversations that can really ease complex or stressful interactions, something that we support our clients to do every day!

With that pressing need in mind, our ‘Emotion’ Whitepaper offers essential insight into the behaviours and actions that result from having a truly human connection with customers, and guidance on how to ensure that customers emotionally connect to your brand. Read on to find out more.

In case you haven’t registered yet, sign up to receive fresh insights and invitations to exec events with our Webhelp Disruptor Series campaign https://www.go.webhelp.com/disruptorseries.


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