Role of Customer Emotions in Brand Experiences

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Research shows that today customer emotions play a major role in brand experiences, and companies today must ensure they are able to elicit positive emotions to retain customers and remain successful. Satisfaction is the possibly the most common of the customer emotions and the one most likely associated with brand experiences that are positive. Customers cite it as the top most emotion in deciding in favour of a company. The other kinds of positive customer emotions are feelings of ease and assurance, and feeling of importance and value –among the top positive emotions customers associate with brand experiences. Companies need to focus on these top positive customer emotions if they expect to attract and retain their customers for a long time, gain profits, and have a sound durable market reputation.

If there are positive customer emotions that companies must encourage, they also have negative emotions with which to contend. Disappointment and frustration are the top two negative customer emotions that would lead to a negative brand experience and image of a company. Following these is the negative emotion of feeling disrespected and not being valued. The most significant challenge that companies face when dealing with customer emotions – both positive and negative is the fact that emotions are intangible – complex and difficult to perceive and understand. It is tough even for the person to know what action their emotion will translate to, and when they would experience a certain emotion, making it even tougher for companies to understand and deal with emotions that their customers experience.

Research shows that customers are more likely to talk about and spread negative experiences. This is so since humans are more sensitive to negative experiences and emotions, as opposed to positive ones. It would make sense for companies therefore, to invest their time and other resources in eliminating negative experiences before trying to create happy and delightful customer experiences. For example – for a customer whose bill maybe completely incorrect, the primary concern would be to get the bill sorted, rather than receiving season’s greetings from the company (for instance).

Companies must ramp up their sensibilities and understanding of customer emotions, and emotional moments during their ‘journey’ with the companies they associate. For example – the emotional state of a person would be different when buying a phone, as opposed to buying a wheelchair. Companies must know how to relate to customers depending on the emotions they exhibit, know how to convey their understanding of the customer’s probable state of mind, and even be able to anticipate customer emotions with regard to certain interactions, products, and experiences,

It is a fact that when everything ‘sails along smoothly’ in a customer-company relationship, customers are unlikely to recall any of the ‘smooth instances’. However, a single inaccuracy, discrepancy, or unusual behaviour from the company will most likely get the attention of a customer, and lead them to remember the instance if the company fails to handle it effectively. This would be despite several positive experiences in the past – the fact is that companies must focus on ensuring a lasting impression such that customers recall the company and its products with positive emotions each time. However, for a company, resting on laurels i.e. one great experience in the past will not suffice – this must be an on-going and consistent endeavour. Unexpected positive gestures are sure to delight customers, and they would be more likely to associate positive emotions with a company.

Brands and companies that have been around for a while, and those that find use in the everyday lives of customers, must definitely understand the importance of customer emotions. It would be necessary to revamp their strategy, processes, culture, and the technology used to deliver positive experiences consistently, such that they repeatedly elicit positive customer emotions. As we have mentioned in the past, declining customer loyalty is a very real danger and a tough challenge for all companies. In order for companies to keep customers for the longest time, and that their brand and products resonate in the hearts and minds of customers, they must learn new ways and techniques to arouse and arrest positive customer emotions. The fact is that experiences stay in the memory, and customers are more likely to be drawn towards companies that afforded them positive experiences that raised positive emotions.

In revamping their internal structures, companies must play special attention to their employees who interact with customers daily and directly. These set of employees play a significant role in eliciting customer emotions – both positive and negative for the company. For these employees to function well and draw out positive customer emotions, companies must ensure that the employees are empowered to make decisions in favour of customers, drive positive experiences, and feel uninhibited while dispensing their duties towards customers.

From a marketing and promotional perspective, the fact is that 92% people are more likely to believe existing customer referrals and recommendations from people who they trust and have a sound emotional connection. This is as opposed to only 14% people who would believe the claims of a company through their advertisements and promotions. This effectively means that by addressing customer emotions intelligently, they can be turned in favour of a company. Research shows that doing so could help a company increase conversion and retention rates.

The market today is tough, and in an endeavour for accelerated growth and profits, companies are now realizing the importance of end-to-end customer experiences. Every time there would be an interaction with a company, customer emotions, come into play – both in the offline and online realms – the customer’s journey with a company. However, some companies fail at optimizing every interaction, and a single poor experience in this ‘journey’ can decrease customer value, owing to negative emotions. Companies need clear and measurable ways to evaluate how well they succeed each time in eliciting positive customer emotions with each experience customers have with them and how well their company measures up against customer expectations.

There is no doubt that brand experiences are critical drivers of the kind of emotions customers feel for a company. Research shows that the more often customers engage with a company, the higher is their emotional connection with the company, thereby being more profitable for the company. However, it is also true that customers are usually unable to decipher which aspects of the brand experiences resonate the most with them – that is they would be unable to answer as to which experience would stir positive emotions for a company. It is only when customers display certain positive responses towards companies, does it become possible for companies to identify the reasons, and work towards recreating the pleasant experiences that evoked positive customer emotions.

It is becoming increasingly imperative for companies to mould customer experiences and hence an understanding of what kind of emotional connection they would like to form with customers, is extremely critical. Companies, which are able to have some mastery in this realm, would be able to increase customer value, minimize their own losses and risks, and maximize the return on investment. Emotionally ‘high’ and connected customers not only generate optimized value, but every interaction makes them feel more positive and assured about the company. Every interaction makes customers feel valued and important. All the aspects lead to an overwhelming amount of positive customer emotions for a company. Is your company ready to make the commitment towards customer emotions?


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