Customer Experience

Design for emotion in Customer Experience? Absolutely!

Forbes writer Adrian Swinscoe said designing emotion into customer experience is a mistake and, potentially, a waste of time and effort, on Sunday.

Swinscoe argues that customers will experience different emotions depending on context, and companies have no way of knowing this context - so, even with the best customer experience tools to track all the information about your customer, your company can not know how the customer’s emotion was influenced by the other events in their life.

Imagine two customers check in at a hotel at the same time. One customer has had a really bad day….their plane or train was cancelled, delayed or disrupted and, as a result, they have arrived at the hotel very tired and very late. Meanwhile, the other customer arrives at the hotel after a very smooth and uneventful journey.

Now, assuming that the staff in the hotel have no way of knowing about the different experiences of their customers and that both customers receive the exact same level of service, how do the customers feel about their experience?

Essentially, it’s true. It is impossible to know any customer’s life and all factors that influence their emotions at any one time.

But, I find this argument disingenuous. For three reasons.

  1. Firstly, your company has the responsibility to ensure the customer experience is consistent, for each customer, across channels and across the customer journey. That’s the focus. That’s it. A company is not responsible for the rest of the customer’s life and how that influences their perception of your brand.But this argument also minimises a company’s ability to turn a customer’s emotions around. I am sure anyone can recall a customer experience that made a bad day better. It’s also more likely that anyone can recall a bad customer experience that made them frustrated, angry or upset - and possibly led them to stop doing business with that brand.
  2. Secondly, this argument insults a customer’s intelligence, and a company’s power to give a consistent experience to customers. Of course everyone is different - but if a customer is asked to review a brand, I would expect a customer to be able to separate that specific experience from the rest of their life. I would also expect some awareness of influences on their emotions.In fact, in another article, Adrian Swinscoe himself recalls his customer experience of being ‘denied boarding’ on an aeroplane. He went from frustration to relief in the course of one experience alone. Somehow, I don’t think his journey to the airport beforehand would change his story.
  3. Thirdly, I object to the assumption that staff “have no way of knowing about the different experiences of their customers”. Staff do have ways of knowing. They can ask; they can listen; they can find out.This only adds a better dimension to measure the customer experience - did staff adapt to the customer’s specific needs at the time? Recognising the differences between each customer and catering to their individual preferences is key to delivering a good customer experience.

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But Adrian Swinscoe backtracks at the end of the article:

That is not to say that companies should ignore the role of emotion in customer experience or how their customers feel about their service or experience.

Not at all.

… In fact, they should pay close attention to how their customers are feeling, what they are telling them and what they are saying publicly. But, they should do so by using research and feedback tools like surveys and speech and voice analytics where they can use insights from these tools to gauge what is working well, what is not working so well and what needs changing.

This reinforces points we made in our previous blog that the right technology tools are there to help people deliver empathy.

Technology can help you deliver consistently positive customer experiences. But a focus on customer experience has to be based on positive emotion. After all, emotion makes us human.

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