While most leaders understand the importance of meeting customer needs and expectations, many still don’t recognize the value of building emotional connections with customers.
What do executives of CX-led organizations know that others don’t? They fully understand and have embraced the most fundamental aspect of customer experience: emotional engagement.
Hey, I get it…. On the surface, it feels reckless to make decisions based on customer emotions.
But the science says no.
If it’s logic and facts that you want, the research is clear (see sources below). Emotional engagement significantly influences customer behavior, loyalty, and advocacy and supersedes (seemingly) more logical factors such as price and convenience.
In fact, customers who are fully “emotionally connected” to a brand are 52% more valuable than “highly satisfied” customers.
“Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.”Chip Bell (author)
Simply, when customers feel a strong emotional connection to a brand, they are more likely to continue doing business with that company, spend more, recommend it to others, and forgive occasional missteps.
The Building Blocks of Emotional Engagement
Effective emotional engagement involves understanding and responding to customers’ feelings, needs, and values, and creating experiences that evoke positive emotions such as joy, surprise, gratitude, and delight.
This requires not only a deep understanding of customer preferences and behaviors, but also an organization-wide commitment to putting customers at the center of everything it does… from product design and marketing to customer service and support.
8 Strategies for Brands to Forge Emotional Connections
Below are a few ways your organization can develop or leverage emotional connections to build a stronger affinity to your brand:
- Empathy. By responding to complaints or other points of friction with empathy and understanding, you can turn the situation around and make customers feel heard and appreciated.
- Personalized experiences: Tailoring experiences to individual customers’ needs, preferences, and values.
- Consistency: Consistently delivering positive experiences that align with customers’ expectations.
- Authenticity: Being transparent and authentic in communication and actions.
- Social responsibility: Demonstrating a commitment to social responsibility and environmental sustainability.
- Storytelling: Telling compelling stories about your brand’s history, purpose, and impact.
- Emotional design: Designing products, packaging, and spaces to evoke specific emotions can create memorable and differentiated experiences.
- Rituals and traditions: Introducing or celebrating rituals and traditions that are meaningful to customers.
How to Measure Emotional Connection
Is emotional connection a key metric on your CX dashboard? If not, there are a number of “emotion” metrics and methodologies to select from—some are free to use (e.g., Brand Love Score), some are proprietary (e.g., Emotional Connection Score).
All emotion metrics are more or less rooted in the same approach:
- Identify the key emotions that are most relevant to your brand.
- Ask your customers to rate these emotions via a survey.
- Assign a weight to each emotion and score them.
- Calculate the weighted average (i.e., multiply each indicator score by its weight and then add up the results)—or, calculate the percentage of customers with “high emotional connection”—or, use statistical modeling to determine which emotions are most important to business outcomes.
Or, you might have customers rate their level of agreement with statements about their emotional connection, such as:
- I trust this brand to deliver high-quality products/services.
- I feel a strong emotional connection to this brand.
- I would be very disappointed if I could no longer use products/services from this brand.
- I feel a sense of pride when I use products/services from this brand.
- This brand is part of my identity.
To determine the right emotion metrics, begin with a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods to understand your customers’ emotional needs and expectations, and to identify the emotions that are most relevant to your brand.
Consider adding biometric instruments to add a layer of objectivity—heart rates, skin conductance, and/or brain waves can reveal emotions that customers are unable to articulate.
- Batra, R., Ahuvia, A., & Bagozzi, R. P. (2012). Brand love: Developing a conceptual model. Journal of Marketing Research, 49(2), 79-93.
- Gallup. (2014). The emotional connection customers have with their banks.
- Forrester Consulting. (2016). The business impact of investing in experience: A spotlight on financial services.
- Temkin Group. (2016). ROI of customer experience, 2016.
- Lemon, K. N., & Verhoef, P. C. (2016). Understanding customer experience throughout the customer journey. Journal of Marketing, 80(6), 69-96.
- The Emotional Economy: Why Emotional Connections Drive Business Success
- The Elephant in the Room: What’s Stopping Employees from Putting Customers First?
- Are There Gaps in Your CX Insights Program? Data Collection Beyond Journey Mapping and Surveys
- How Different Research Lenses Can Result in Different Outcomes
- Strategies for Avoiding Uncomfortable Situations During UX Research Sessions