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In our constant drive towards innovation, we sometimes forget what business is really about: providing an exceptional customer experience and making a profit. And rather than pushing the latest technology, emotion is the main driver for business. We need to ensure that business stays human so that profits stay high. To do so, we must tap into our natural empathy to motivate more emotionally desirable experiences that people prefer, seek out and ultimately, share.  

Emotions define experience 

The single most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond just customer satisfaction and connect your customers on an emotional level. This might seem far-fetched, but tapping into their motivations and fulfilling their deep, often unspoken emotional needs can really get you somewhere, further than any form of tech could ever get you. Emotions are a huge part of the customer experience. Emotions drive or destroy value for a business. Emotions influence our desire to buy or not to buy, what we remember and choose to share about the experience and most importantly, whether we place our loyalty with that brand. 

When an organisation interacts with customer in a positive way, that memory will line up with other unforgettable experiences they’ve had, personal or otherwise. The birth of a child, a wedding, travelling; these are the kinds of positive events that we store in our memories which stay with us for a lifetime. Like these, those who have positive customer experiences remember them in the same way, with positive emotions. This goes for negative experiences too; they should be avoided at all times.  

The awful contradiction  

Have you ever had one of those moments where you notice your phone bill has sky rocketed and you have no idea why? You decide to call your mobile provider, only to be met by 10 different options presented by a robotic voice. After sitting in a lengthy queue, you finally get transferred to customer service, where you then have to repeat all the personal information you’ve already provided again. Unfortunately, they inform you that the issue needs to be ‘escalated internally’ and may take 6-8 weeks to resolve. You leave that interaction feeling annoyed and with your issue will unresolved.  

A couple of days later, they send you an email about a new mobile offer because you’re such a ‘valued customer’. Angry, you delete the email – you’re not interested in the mobile offer and worst of all, your emotions tied to the company worsen. Your opinion of the company is even worse due to the timing. Imagine being told you’re a valued customers after being made to feel like just another number in the system.  

If a customer calls into customer service expecting to get a problem solved, but end up getting thrown around from department to department, receiving no one answers or getting shoved to the FAQ on the Web, they’re going to be dissatisfied. However, if they call that same line expecting an IVR and get a live person who proactively solves their issues, they’ve had a completely different and overall, better experience. They “feel” good about it. The way a customer remembers an experience is, in fact, the reality of that experience. 

Ask the question  

“So tell us, how did that make you feel? We care. Really, we do.” While companies rarely ask this question, at least not in that exact way, virtually all customer experience boils down to a need to ask this question and others like it. The fact is, all customer experience boils down to how your customers feel about an experience, and the question needs to be asked.  

When utilised in the right way, technology can undoubtedly be a potent force for improving customer experience. However, without emotion, technology can amplify negative experiences, leaving customers feeling unvalued and disaffected. By retaining a prevalent human aspect to service, businesses can create associations with positive emotions – associations which can last a lifetime.