home Customer Experience, Features Taking customers to their psychological and emotional peak

Taking customers to their psychological and emotional peak

Emotions play a crucial role in the behaviour and purchasing decisions of consumers. When customers form emotional connections with your brand, it bolsters feelings of loyalty and engagement with the brand. But building these positive emotional connections is a significant challenge.

Understanding customers’ emotions, feelings and sentiments towards your brand and the ability to positively influence them, is central to most customer experience strategies. Rod Netterfield CCXP, Director and Co-founder of HUMIND explains, “Emotions and feelings are a core intrinsic part of being human. They greatly define our behaviour, our experiences and our memories as humans. This applies just as much to our behaviour as customers. Emotion is a key element of what we’re trying to orchestrate as part of our customer experience roles. When customers feel appreciated, heard, and understood, they’re going to form a positive emotional connection with your business”.

Rod Netterfield CCXP, Director and Co-founder of HUMIND

When customers have positive emotional experiences with a brand, they are more likely to develop a sense of attachment and loyalty. Netterfield says, “When customers have a positive emotional connection with your brand, they’re much more likely to become loyal advocates. Where I think you can supercharge this to the next level is if you have customers that are in a negative situation. If you can turn that situation around to create a really positive emotional experience, you will win fans who will tell other people about the experience they had with your brand.”

Loyal advocates voluntarily share their positive experiences with friends, family, and colleagues, acting as unpaid promoters for the company. Word-of-mouth generated through emotional connections holds more weight and authenticity, leading to a stronger impact on potential customers[i].

Invest in peak touchpoints along the customer journey and the end.

To create emotional connections, companies must identify and prioritise critical touchpoints in the customer journey. These touchpoints are the moments when customers interact with the brand and where the brand has the best chances to form lasting impressions.  Netterfield advises, “Investing in every touchpoint or interaction along the journey is unlikely to be feasible or affordable. What you’re trying to work out is – where do I want to create a really, really positive emotional connection? And how do I make sure I end the customer’s journey in a really positive way?”

“To help identify these critical touchpoints we can apply the ‘peak-end’ rule, which is a psychological heuristic in which people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak and how it ends”.

“It isn’t about making every touch point great. It’s about how to carefully orchestrate the experience, so the peak and the end of the experience are as positive as possible. As long as your peak and your end are positive, you might actually be able to recover or cope from the fact that there’s going to be some moments of unpleasantness in there, such as long wait times or long queues”.

Peak touchpoints may include the first encounter with the brand, product purchase, customer service interactions, and after-sales support. “If we take e-commerce as an example. When you have something shipped to you, you tend to apply a great level of attention to your unboxing experience. Investing in the unboxing experience might be a great opportunity to build loyalty and connect with the customer at a deeper emotional level”, explains Netterfield. 

“We were working with a charity. As you would expect, people were making donations to this charity and so there was, obviously, a positive moment that came there. But when the charity then closed the loop with that donor, to tell them about what has happened because of their donation, that created a positive moment for that customer.  It fostered a deeper emotional connection with donors, which ultimately encouraged greater levels of donation in the future”.

Where are your peaks – saving the best for last!

You need to identify your peak moments. You can use customer feedback, surveys, and data analytics to identify these peak moments effectively. Understanding customer pain points, desires, and expectations at each stage of the customer journey helps tailor emotional experiences to meet those specific needs. Netterfield says, “It can be a daunting task, but your Voice-of-Customer (VOC) program may be a good place to start to gain these insights into your customer journey.  You might need to do a whole lot of analysis on your customer service interactions to understand where those touchpoints are and have them highlighted on a journey map.”

“Or it can be done by bringing in a diverse set of your organisational stakeholders into a room to work out where we think these things across the journey might be”.

At each stage of the customer’s journey, once you have it mapped out, highlight what positive emotions or negative emotions are customers likely to feel. You might want to orchestrate the last impression to be the best, so as to leave your customers wanting more.  

Strategies that create peak moments in an experience

Business.com highlights the following as best practices for emotionally connecting with customers:

  1. Identify what motivates your customers: There may be a variety of motivators that are impacting the behaviour of customers. The Harvard Business Review highlights 10 emotional motivators for customers. As an example, many customers may want to feel unique and special. So, the peak moment in an experience should be highly personalised[ii].
  2. Be authentic: Being truthful, honest and transparent with customers is critically important. People quickly disengage when they don’t believe what they’re being told. It’s about living up to the values that you express in a way that uniquely identify your brand.
  3. Storytelling: Companies can use storytelling to evoke emotions and create meaningful connections with their customers. Sharing authentic stories about the brand’s values, mission, and the people behind it helps customers relate on a personal level.
  4. Personalisation: Tailoring products and services to individual preferences and needs demonstrates that the brand understands and cares about the customer. Personalisation fosters a sense of exclusivity and importance.
  5. Empathy: Empathetic customer service representatives can turn challenging situations into opportunities to strengthen emotional connections. Active listening and understanding customers’ feelings demonstrate genuine care.

Emotions play a crucial role in building lasting impressions on customers, which directly impact their loyalty and advocacy. Emotional connection has a far greater impact on the success of your CX strategy than customer satisfaction, as it’s about tapping into what fundamentally motivates customer behaviour.

Companies that understand the significance of emotions and leverage them strategically create strong emotional connections with their customers. Embracing emotions as a fundamental aspect of the customer experience is the key to thriving in today’s competitive business landscape.

[i] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesmarketplace/2022/02/08/from-loyalty-to-advocacy-the-key-to-effective-customer-experience

[ii] https://hbr.org/2016/08/an-emotional-connection-matters-more-than-customer-satisfaction

Mark Atterby

Mark Atterby has 18 years media, publishing and content marketing experience.