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07 Jan 2019

Is Emotion the Missing Link in Client Experience?

Bruce Temkin

Emotion plays an essential role in how people make decisions. Consequently, how a client feels about their experience with a law firm or company has the most significant impact on their loyalty to them. And yet despite this importance, both clients and firms agree that they do a poor job of engaging emotions.

Emotion is the step-child that no one talks about within organisations. But is in fact the critical component of client experience because emotion is the element that most significantly drives loyalty. I work in organisations all over the world and we collect lots of data that looks at how companies focus on emotion. The fact is emotion is not something we often talk about or address. Over the next five years, we’re going to have to reconcile the fact that customers’ expectations are rising, companies aren’t delivering on them, and one of the biggest gaps is when it comes to meeting their emotional needs.

In order for us to understand customer emotion, we are going to have to change the way that we think. As organisations, our brands are going to have to be much clearer, because our brand is the way we deliver emotional promises. Organisations need to do a better job of recognising and catering to the emotion of customers, which means they will also need to become more empathetic.

Here’s a short video which shows the importance of emotion when it comes to an organisation’s approach to customer experience.

Emotion Meets Technology

Client experience and emotion are essentially about human interaction – that’s not to say technology isn’t part of the solution, but technology is best as a supporting role. You can improve customer experience without technology but you can’t improve customer experience with technology alone.

The expectations on technology are about to get much more complex. Soon, it’s not going to be good enough just to capture feedback from customers – we are going to need technology to help us understand how customers feel about us too. We’re seeing a lot of really new and emerging technology around tracking and understanding emotion that I think will make the whole area of focusing on emotion much easier in the next five years.

It’s fascinating to see that some of this technology is already being developed and used. For example Mattersight has a personality model that can listen to phone conversations or other interactions in contact centers to peg the emotions of the caller. Similarly Cogito is a start up that can actually tell in real time what the emotional level of a caller engagement is. But this is not limited to small companies- we can also see it happening in big companies. For instance NICE Systems recently bought Nexidia which is a speech analytics tool that can uncover key elements of emotions. So this is really just the beginning of using technology to interpret customer emotion so it’s a really exciting area to follow in the next five years.

Design CX with Emotion at Its Heart

Our Temkin Group research shows that emotion is often a missing link in customer experience. While emotions may seem ephemeral and subjective, we developed a concrete methodology you can use to design for emotion. We call this methodology “Emotion-Infused Experience Design” (EIxD), and we define it as:

An approach for deliberately creating interactions that evoke specific customer emotions.

To master EIxD, you must ask (and answer) three questions throughout the entire design process:

  1. Who exactly are these people (who happen to be our customers)? You cannot design emotionally engaging experiences without a solid grasp on who your target customers are—what they want, what they need, what makes them tick.
  2. What is our organisational personality? Research shows that people relate to companies as if they are fellow human beings rather than inanimate corporate entities.
  3. How do we want our customers to feel? People are inherently emotional beings, and every interaction they have with you will make them feel a certain way—whether you intend it to or not.

Finally, here’s an infographic which outlines why customer experience needs more emotion.

About the Author

Bruce Temkin

Bruce Temkin is a CX Transformist, co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and is widely regarded as the world’s #1 CX Thought-Leader. His work has accelerated the customer experience journeys for 100’s of organisations.

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