By Anja Thielsen Valentino, Loyalty Group
More than half of all customer's buying decisions are based on emotions on a conscious as well as a subconscious level. How can companies meet these emotions and ensure strong emotional Customer Relations?
Emotional connections to the customers are key to develop loyal customers and company ambassadors. Today, most commercial companies are not in doubt about the significant value of loyal customers!
Compared with competitors, companies with high Customer Loyalty typically grows more than twice as fast.
F.Reichheld, Bain & Co.
The Emotions of the Customers are Key
Loyal customers are unquestionably the company's most profitable customers. These customers purchase products on a larger scale and more frequently as well as recommend the company to family, friends, and their network. Not to mention that they have better insight into the company's products and services and are much cheaper to manage. Therefore, maximizing the amount of loyal customers makes good business sense. However, how can the company build true loyal customers? The answer is, to meet the customer's emotions "the right way"!
On a global B2B market, Maersk Line increased their Net Promoter Score by 40 points within 30 months by focusing on three emotions: "Pleased", "Cared for" and "Trust".
Customers will only give their loyalty when they are consistently met by Customer Experiences meeting or exceeding their expectations. Furthermore, the company must appeal to the customer's subconscious, affect their senses, and meet their emotional needs in order to make the experiences memorable.
The Hierarchy of Emotional Value
Depending on importance, customer emotions can be ranked. Firstly, basic needs and emotions must be handled before the company can nurture the more loyalty-driving emotions of the customers. In other words, the company must first meet the customer's minimum expectations and in case of any frustrations, resolve the inconsistencies. Only when meeting this minimum level, can the company exceed customer expectations by offering them that "little extra" without cost or creating unforgettable "Wow-experiences".
According to Colin Shaw, a hierarchy of emotional value can be defined. The emotional hierarchy can be illustrated a bit like Maslow's pyramid and hierarchy of needs. However, unlike Maslow's pyramid, the Beyond Philosophy pyramid illustrates the hierarchy of Emotional Value of a Customer Experience. This pyramid entails 20 value-driving emotions that Beyond Philosophy discovered in their research. These emotions will either drive or destroy the Customer Experience in the short or long run.
Emotions such as irritation, frustrations, unhappiness and dissatisfaction must be addressed immediately and correctly to avoid customers starting to leave the company or discontinuing buying the brand. On a higher level of emotions, companies must focus on ensuring the customer's continuous interest. In order for the costumer's emotions to become loyalty-driving, the company must build feelings of trust, value and safety to ensure satisfaction, happiness, and the prospect of customer recommendations in the long run.
Address the Customer's Emotions
In order to truly embrace Customer Centricity and develop strong emotional connections to the customers, companies must minimize emotions that are perceived by customers as value-depleting and cultivate those perceived as value-building.
|Value-Depleting Emotions:||Value-Building Emotions:|
Nurturing value-building emotions that drive true Customer Value is crucial if companies want their customers to stay and become loyal. Companies must identify, outline, and understand the customers' emotions in order to get a valid picture of the emotions most likely to affect the customers' buying decision and generate Customer Loyalty. Studies show that customers are more likely to remember the emotions they experienced with a company or a brand as oppose to the buying situation in itself.
Companies must ask themselves how they most effectively can build the emotional connection to each individual customer by:
- Making the customer feel appreciated by the company
- Conveniently meeting the customer's needs, goals in everyday life
- Personalizing the interaction with the customer
- Ensuring the customer being actively involved with the company/brand
- Managing the customer's interests before those of the company
- Building unforgettable WOW-experiences
Furthermore, when addressing the customer's emotions and in order to build true emotional connections, the company must meet its customers the right way at the right place and in a timely fashion. On this basis, the company can design or redesign the Customer Experience and -journey in a meaningful, value-generating and sustainable way that builds meaningful emotional connections with the customers.