How do emotions play a role in the customer journey?
At times, it feels like we are on a never-ending journey, constantly working to understand our consumers so we can communicate with them more effectively and provide better experiences. Yet, with all of our effort, sometimes our communication and experience strategies fall flat. There may be many reasons for this, but one key element that is often overlooked is the role consumers’ emotion plays in their decisions.
While we are developing statistics, evidence and logical rationale in order to win over our target audience, the reality is that it is emotions, both conscious and unconscious, that are driving the behaviors we’re trying to influence.
Why is this? Some opinions differ, but it is generally accepted that 95 – 98% of human behavior happens subconsciously - and that includes decision-making. Simply put, one part of our brain (the neocortex), processes the hard information – facts, rationale, evidence and language. But, it’s another part of our brain (the limbic system) that is responsible for processing emotions. That part of our brain is also responsible for our behavior and decision-making. Importantly, it processes information 200 times faster than the neocortex. So, it usually wins.
Ignore your customer’s emotions at your own peril
So how does emotion affect business? If you can understand it and design experiences that optimize the emotional journey, it can be very beneficial to business. Consider:
- According to Forrester, emotion was the #1 contributor to customer loyalty in 94% of industries studied, even beating out effectiveness and ease.
- According to a study from Disney and Gallup, organizations that have optimized their customers’ emotional journey generate 26% more gross margin and experience 85% more sales growth than their competitors. Not only that, the study found that emotionally engaged consumers are:
- At least three times more likely to recommend
- Three times more likely to re-purchase
- Less likely to shop around
- Much less price sensitive
In short, emotionally engaging your customers can drive higher margins and increased sales growth while developing a loyal customer base that is highly likely to recommend your organization. Of course, that begs the question, “How can we get there?”
Three keys to integrating emotion into your customer experience strategy
Making emotion a key element of your customer experience strategy requires a deliberate effort. Here are three steps to take on your path to optimizing your customers’ emotional journey.
- Establish a baseline of your customers’ emotional journey
Before you can optimize your customers’ emotional journey, you must understand the role emotion plays in that journey today. Start by identifying the emotions that motivate or hinder your most important segments and personas. Emotionally, where are they trying to get? Look for emotions that are relevant to your business and that can affect your customer’s decision-making process. Some relevant emotions to look for include trust, confidence, pride, frustration or disappointment.
Once you understand those emotions, the next step is to map those emotions to the experience you are providing. There are several ways to accomplish this, but it is key to involve your customers/end users in the process. At Cast & Hue, we use a form of our journey mapping methodology to develop what we call emotional journey maps. But no matter your process, your objective should be to have a clear picture of the emotions that your end users are experiencing as they interact with you and your organization.
- Ensure your consumers’ emotional journeys inform your new experience design
When designing new customer experiences, emphasis is often placed on efficiency and the fastest path-to-purchase. It is important to ensure that emotion has a seat at the table. And, as you develop new experiences, be on the lookout for touch points that have the potential to cause swings in emotions – both positive and negative. At Cast & Hue, we ensure that desired emotional response is a key component of our experience blueprints. But, regardless of how you design experiences, It is especially important to identify and attempt to neutralize the touch points that could cause negative emotion, as studies show that negative emotions such as disappointment and sadness last longer than most positive emotions. Additionally, make sure that you are designing for the true emotional state your customer will be in. If you know the situation is inherently stressful, don’t design an experience for an optimal circumstances. Design keeping that stress in mind, while looking for opportunities to relieve the stress that the end user is experiencing.
- Socialize the importance of emotional connections across your organizations
Finally, remember that a focus on emotions cannot be a one-time initiative. If your organization is going to be truly emotionally connected to your customers, then you must develop a plan to gain alignment across the organization. Ensure that everyone understands the importance of emotion, how your organization is optimizing emotional journeys and the role each person plays.
Integrating emotion into your customer experiences takes time and is a deliberate process. However, as your organization creates stronger emotional connections, the benefits – increased loyalty, higher margins, stronger word-of-mouth and more – can change the trajectory of your business.