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How emotion can take customer satisfaction to the next level

3rd December 2019

Author: Helen Murray,

Webhelp Chief Customer Solutions Officer

Reflecting on the importance of humanising business and creating positive emotional connections, Helen Murray, Webhelp Chief Customer Solutions Officer, looks at the current research and why keeping your customers ‘Very Satisfied’ is still not good enough!

Preface: 27/04/20

Since publishing this blog, the world has changed dramatically, with entire countries entering strict lockdown periods and many regions operating under shelter in place instructions. The coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to have an unprecedented impact on business and society across the globe and as a result the emotional component of CX is more vital now than ever before. Click here to find out more on our people first response to this crisis. 

In this digitised consumer world, customers are bombarded with almost constant targeted advertising, special offers and promises of better than ever services. In fact, customer retention is now considered the hardest nut to crack across most sectors. Additionally, there is a tendency for business to rely on Customer Satisfaction measures to predict behaviour and loyalty – but this really isn’t enough.

Customer satisfaction, the ‘go to’ metric for those trying to measure the impact of communication or experience on their customers and their behaviour, while useful, provides only part of the picture.

Far from being a safe bet that was once assumed, customers that are NOT absolutely and completely satisfied, are open to competitors.

A case study from Gallup looking at the impact of satisfaction on the behaviour of customers of a supermarket found that even being “extremely satisfied” was insufficient.  Conversely, customers who had reported extreme satisfaction actually visited the store less often and spent less than those who had ranked their satisfaction lower.

What really made the difference was the level of emotional connection that a customer felt with the store. Those that were fully engaged visited the store 32% more often and spent 46% more than those without the same emotional bonds.

The term emotional connection describes the ability to develop a brand relationship using key emotional triggers to inspire brand loyalty, satisfaction and belonging.

At Webhelp, we believe that brands must step up their game in developing this type of relationship with their customers; the Gallup paper authors William McEwen and John Fleming highlight this by saying:

“Companies are now setting higher goals, aiming at “complete” customer satisfaction, and using extreme agreement ratings to gauge not just basic satisfaction but genuine customer “delight.” 

They conclude that “If you don’t make an emotional connection with customers, then satisfaction is worthless!”

To understand the importance of ‘connection’ between brands and consumers in more detail, Webhelp surveyed 1,154 senior decision makers and asked them what they thought about the importance of developing an emotional connection with their customers.

The findings were surprising.

Although more than 80% of executives stated that this was important, shockingly just less than 50% admitted that their business was planning to do anything about it. This highlights a worrying trend that brands are behind the curve with the advanced data technology needed to track and create emotional connections.

We know that understanding the motivators behind emotional connection requires analysis of large datasets derived from customer facing systems. But, surprisingly, only 21% of our respondents thought that their systems were sufficiently integrated to support this.

In theory, using customer emotion to reach that top target of 100% satisfaction may seem straightforward, in practice it requires capability, methodologies and experience.

It is incredibly important to apply the right analytics to identify the significant emotional motivators.

It takes expertise and the correct framework to drive complete customer satisfaction and customer behaviours, for improved commercial outcomes.

However, establishing key motivators isn’t the end of the story – further statistical modelling is required to find the positive links between motivators and behaviours and their value in creating behavioural change. This final step isn’t easy – it requires operational excellence and experience to produce strategies that really work.

The rules have switched and now total customer satisfaction should be minimum requirement, not the end goal! We need to take customers on an emotional journey from (1) being unconnected to (2) being highly satisfied to (3) perceiving brand differentiation to (4) being fully connected (Source Harvard Business Review).  Fully connected customers are on average 52% more valuable than those who are ‘highly satisfied’.

It is heartening that the vast majority of businesses know that this is something to strive for – even if the value that it can unlock isn’t quite so well known. But the future is almost upon us, and many brands are not approaching customer emotion as part of an informed strategy. Stand out players are moving very far ahead and the gap is only going to get greater.

To put it very bluntly – If you don’t care deeply about and respond swiftly to how your customers feel, don’t expect them to care about your services or products. The sooner you become passionate about this – the better your company will perform.

Webhelp has handled billions of customer interactions for global brands and our people have granular knowledge of what your customers expect and how they behave. Our experts are changing the game in CX and Webhelp can confidently engineer an operating model that will create and deepen those all-important emotional connections with your customers.

Find out more in our Whitepaper on Emotional connections here.

Our Disruptor Series takes a deeper dive into the issues facing the CX industry, including the impact of generational shifts and AI and Automation. Contact Ewan McKay – for more details on our corporate events and check out Webhelp jobs for information on our current opportunities.


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