Four Basic Rules of Human Emotion to Guide Your Customer Experience

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Customer Experience

While Maya Angelou was not speaking about the interactions of brands and consumers, the same truth applies. If you’ve ever received drink coupons or a “Happy Birthday” card from Southwest Airlines or been bounced around multiple departments on the phone with a cable company (I’ll withhold the company name I am thinking of), you can attest to the polar opposite emotions felt from these different experiences. And, how these feelings directly impacted how you felt about the company thereafter.

Positive and negative experiences throughout a customer’s interaction with a brand impact the longevity and loyalty of that relationship. As discovered by Forrester when they recently surveyed more than 45,000 U.S. consumers, the way an experience makes the customer feel has a big impact on brand loyalty ― more so than the two other aspects of customer experience that most companies tend to focus on, effectiveness and ease. In their July 2015 report, Understanding The Impact of Emotion On Customer Experience, Forrester outlines four must-know principles to help customer experience teams better understand how emotions work so that they can make more connections with the people they care about. These connections, in effect, create the enduring relationships that make for successful brands.

Emotions to chart on a customer experience map (see related map below). Source: Forrester, Pinterest
Emotions to chart on a customer experience map (see related map below).
Source: Forrester, Pinterest
  1. Negative experiences hurt more than positive ones help. So, prioritize projects that reduce pain points.

 Naturally, humans feel negative emotions more intensely than positive ones, and they last longer, too. If we expect our gas to be turned on by a certain date and it is not, we have a much more visceral reaction than if our gas was turned on as planned and we never knew the difference. In this example, the gas company would do itself a much greater service if it could have pin-pointed when an expectation was not going to be met in order to change it. Even if it is the expectations that need to be changed rather than the timing of the end result.

  1. Emotions change experiences as they happen. So, think through the typical experiences of your customers and how they impact the way customers feel.

 Put some real thought into the positive and negative aspects of a customer’s interactions with your brand. Whether offline or online, is the path to purchase pretty straightforward, or could there be trigger points that delight or frustrate a user? Anticipate how customers are feeling ―could they be in a rush or easily flustered if there is a glitch? Are they using your mobile app and likely to have a lot of background noise or distractions? I wonder how many times a month people book a flight on the wrong day or time because they are in a rush. Thankfully, many airlines have a 24-hour grace period where they will not charge a fee to change a booking, but is there an analogous situation during your customer’s purchase path that you aren’t accounting for now?

  1. Memories of past experiences don’t match reality. So, give special attention to those memorable moments.

 Our memories tend to retain two moments from an experience ― the most intense and the very last. That’s why it’s important to deliver bad news early and make sure the last interaction is a high point. Forrester gives an example of Delta Airlines’ “Middle Seat Mondays” program when they send an apology email and 500-point SkyMiles credits to their best customers if they get stuck sitting in a middle seat on certain flights.

  1. We can’t verbalize all of the emotions we feel. So, help customers express their emotions.

 You may need to employ some additional research methods here to discover what emotions your specific customers are not able to verbalize, but it could be well worth your time. What is happening to someone subconsciously is harder to read, but ethnographic research, the technique known as metaphor elicitation, and technology that uses personality clues to help clients better understand their customers are helping companies do just that.

When mapping out your next Customer Experience Journey, put some thought into the emotions customers are likely going to feel along the way. Think through when added touches can impact how your customer feels about their experience. And don’t forget that whether drink coupons, a thank you note or a small gift, there is a world of merchandise ― both branded and non-branded ― that can elevate that experience even further, creating more Brand Love moments.

Source: Forrester, Pinterest
Source: Forrester, Pinterest

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