April 24, 2014

Guest Blogger: Colin Shaw on Customer Experience and Emotion

Today I am happy to present to you a guest blogger, Colin Shaw.  Colin is founder of Beyond Philosophy, a consultancy, research, and training company recognized as thought leaders in the Customer Experience. They are located in London, England and Atlanta, GA, USA. Colin is an international best selling author and widely acclaimed public speaker.  Colin also writes a blog called Experience Clinic, which can be found at his company’s website www.beyondphilosophy.com.  I spoke to Colin over the summer while he was traveling in the States, and I think you will find his post thought-provoking.  Let us know what you think!

The DNA of Customer Experience

“We can’t do that…”….  ”you’ll have to go over there….”   ” you’ll have to phone a different department”

We have all heard these phrases in too many Customer Experiences. I am sure, like you, it makes my blood boil! But when I say “it makes my blood boil” what am I really expressing? I am referring to how I feel; my emotions. Just read the many postings in this blog and you sense the emotions the writers are feeling. Having dealt in the subject of the Customer Experience for the last 10 years it never ceases to amaze me that organizations fail to realise that over 50% of a Customer Experience is about emotions.

So let me ask you one of my favourite questions we pose to organizations every day of the week. “What is the customer experience you are trying to deliver”? Most organizations can not answer that question in a consistent manner. In addition, as emotions account for over 50% of an experience, here is a follow on question, “What are the emotions you are trying to evoke in your Customers”?

Again, most organizations can not answer this simple question and as such I believe they are not in control of their experience. The challenge becomes ‘as there is such an array of emotions which should an organization choose? Which emotions drive and destroy value?’

Following 2 years of research with London Business School, one of the worlds leading business schools, we have discovered there are four clusters of emotions that drive or destroy value. These are further outlined in our latest book The DNA of Customer Experience: How Emotions Drive Value.

Hierarchy of Emotional Value

The Destroying Cluster

This is the first area an organization needs to focus on. These emotions are evoked in Customers typically because their experience is “inside out”. This means the organization looks at what is good for them and imposes that experience on the customer. Our belief is organizations should be “outside in” looking at what the customer wants and deliberately trying to evoke positive emotions.

It’s impossible to eradicate destroying emotions entirely, but wise organizations take steps to mitigate them. It’s important to recognize that this cluster not only destroys value, but taxes resources and imposes other costs on an organization. Suppose, for example, delivery of a complex IT system is poorly coordinated and a few items are missing. In addition to feelings of frustration, this misstep wastes the valuable time and money of the personnel involved with installation.

The Attention Cluster

The Attention Cluster contains emotions used by organizations to attract customers. Our research has shown that these emotions encourage customers to explore your offers and experience, and boost customers’ short-term spend.

However, this cluster contains an inherent danger. Once they have attracted a customer, can they retain them? We’ve discovered that what attracts a customer in the first place may not turn them into long-term customers. As a simple example, imagine a theme park. Your first visit is likely to be interesting, stimulating and energetic — all characteristics of the attention cluster. But what happens after your tenth visit? The “interesting or stimulated” emotions fade. The experience becomes bland. To retain customers you need to evoke the Recommendation Cluster. 

The Recommendation Cluster

Here is where you really begin to build loyalty. The Recommendation Cluster includes basic human emotions like valued, cared for and trusted. Consider the last time you felt someone “valued” you; at home or at work. Why did you feel valued? What did the person do? They spent time with you, they understood you. They listened to you. It was personalised. Now flip this to your own Customer Experience, what could you do that included these traits and thus evoked valued in your experience.

The Advocacy Cluster

The Advocacy cluster is at the top of the pyramid, and contains only two emotions, reflecting their statistical importance. Happiness is a primary goal for everyone. People want to be happy, thus we seek out experiences which please us. Obviously, organizations should strive to make their customers happy. Happy customers become advocates, proactively telling people about your organization without prompting, and are among the most loyal. Word of mouth, after all, is the best form of marketing.

A Company’s Emotional Signature®

We also discovered all organizations have an Emotional Signature®. This is the level of emotional engagement an organizations have with its customers.

In our experience most organizations measure only the physical/rational aspects of the Customer Experience — price, product availability, range and so on. They ignore the other 50% of an experience; customer’s emotions.

In understanding the level of emotional engagement you can then determine what you need to do to change. I always liken this to a sound system graphic equalizer; your company’s Emotional Signature can be altered to produce a better sound, a better experience. Because they are not consciously and deliberately thought-out in advance, most experiences are “out of tune”. All organizations unwittingly evoke unintentional emotions.

For example, customers become frustrated when their actions trigger the wrong behaviours, and organizations should take action to reverse this. To persuade your customers to feel you “care for” them — a powerful differentiator — you may need to change your recruitment process and hire people who are naturally caring. It’s important to understand the level of emotional engagement to be able to take action to improve it.

(Top image credit: bonathos; article image credit: BeyondPhilosophy)

Comments

  1. Paul Blunden says:

    Thanks for the blog post I found it really interesting and thought provoking. We have been researching the measurement of emotional engagement online recently in preparation for a white paper and a conference slot. We managed to combine eye tracking technology with EEG to identify the brain pattern reactions to where people look. The findings are fascinating and supports much of what you are saying above.
    Of course as you say, measurement is only part of the problem. Most organisations haven’t considered the type of experience they want to deliver, other than in broad brand terms. There is another book on the subject called ‘The Experience Economy’ available on HBS Press which talks about this in more detail and I recommend it.

  2. BMW Sydney says:

    Customers emotions usually stem from their expectations.

    We can provide a better experience by not only trying to manage emotions, but to manage customer expectations.

  3. Becky Carroll says:

    Paul, I am glad you found the blog post thought-provoking! I would love to find out more about your research and perhaps share some of your findings with our readers here at Customers Rock! Creating the right experience, whether it is in sales, marketing, or customer service, is a key to working in conjunction with customer emotions to build loyalty. Thanks for commenting here on Customers Rock!

  4. Becky Carroll says:

    BMW Sydney, you are absolutely right! We really can’t manage a customer’s emotions, as those are personal. We can definitely manage expectations, be clear about what customers will be getting in terms of their experiences with us, and then exceed those expectations in order to create WOW moments.

    What kinds of things are you doing at BMW to make the experience fabulous?

  5. Colin Shaw says:

    It is when a Customer expectations are exceededor not achieved that emotions are evoked. So by understanding Customer expectations you can start to manage their emotions. People manage or evoke people emotions all the time. For example, I know what I can do that will make my wife, Lorraine, feel angry towards me. (I try not to do this very often :-) ) I also know what I can do that will make her feel I care for her. The same applies to Customer. In my view there are a number of things we can do to evoke deliberate emotions in Customers.

  6. Eric Brown says:

    Excellent Blog Post, Thank You,
    Reflecting on the articles content, it seems a paradigm shift is in order from what we want, think, need (the business) to what the customer, wants, thinks needs and most importantly pointed out, how the customer “FEELS”. As I think through some of our own silly practices that we do because of some of our silly little “rules”, some of them likely really irritate our residents, and we know it, yet continue doing it because of these silly rules. What are those silly little rules costing us? How much Emotional Dissatisfaction have we inadvertently evoked because of these silly little rules? Lots of work to do, but love these interactions and forums for better insight, Thanks again!

  7. Colin Shaw says:

    Eric, our latest work shows that Customers have a subconscious experience. This is the experience that our subconscious mind “sees”, the little things that an organization do that make a big impact. This is on my blog http://www.ExperienceClinic.com. You may want to check this out for a more detailed explanation. I hope this helps.

  8. Sarah Hughes says:

    Wow! I loved your article. I am a property manager and have tried to convey this thinking to my team. Evoking the right emotions is powerful. And knowing how to work with emotions is a strong asset to have. I also have another business with home fragrance and perfumes. In this business I stress the power of the sense of smell to evoke memories and create moods. I try to describe a scent personality to a customer in order to determine their needs and wants for fragrances. I guess I need to start applying an emtional personality factor to my real estate customers and read their emotions to know how to create or alter an “emotional signature” as you described.

    Great job!

  9. At Brookeside we spend a lot of time studying customer (and employee) loyalty which is a direct measure of relationship engagement. The level of Customer Loyalty is a direct function the approach taken by the relationship manager. Our research has validated this time and time again.

  10. julie Fielding says:

    I work in the police service and we are always looking for ways to enhance our customer experience. The hierarchy of emotional value makes good sense but i wonder how the emotional experience manifests when a customer is calling to report an incident of personal emotional trauma? They may already be experiencing negative emotions having been the victim of assault or abuse and i wonder whether that experience can be disassociated from the emotions about the service received or expected? Interested in any information or research on this

  11. Very good paintings! Essential type in info that need to be shared on the net. Shame on Google and yahoo for not even positioning it submit substantial! Come at over and confer with my blog. Thanks =)

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  1. [...] that in his book The DNA of Customer Experience Colin Shaw identified twenty emotions grouped into four clusters that have been "independently and statistically proven to impact customers’ short-term spend, [...]

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