What’s the secret to driving emotional connections with customers?

Discussion
Photo: Chewy.com
May 29, 2019
Tom Ryan

A new study from Deloitte Digital offers more proof that while shared values and rational thinking bring customers to brands, emotions drive loyalty, advocacy and preference.

Among the findings:

  • Sixty-two percent of consumers feel they have a relationship with a brand.
  • Sixty percent of brand loyal consumers use the same type of emotional language they would use for family, friends and pets when speaking of their favorite brands — words like love, happy and adore.
  • Forty-four percent of consumers would make a recommendation based on emotional criteria versus only three percent who would recommend a product or brand to others based on a company’s values or corporate responsibility principles.
  • Only 18 percent cited emotional reasons such as feeling rudely spoken to by an employee or unfairly treated in a dispute for leaving a brand. Rational reasons such as high prices, faulty products or wrong orders are by far the primary reason to leave.

Driving stronger emotional connections involves offering a consistent, contextually-appropriate experience across all interactions and developing two-way relationships between brands and customers that mirror human relationships, according to the study.

A challenge is that like human friendships, customer relationships take time to develop. Among people who consider themselves brand loyal, 76 used the brand for more than four years.

Expectations around relationships with brands are also rising:

  • Seventy-five percent of customers expect brands to know their purchase history.
  • Fifty-seven percent expect brands to know their service history.
  • Nearly half love it when companies bring up their last interaction.
  • Two out of three expect companies to integrate their feedback into future product and service design.

Despite demands for more personalization, some consumers are squeamish about brands knowing their browsing history for similar products or services, as well as knowing their individual preferences. Trust was the most identified emotional metric connecting consumers to their favorite brand.

Suggestions for improving emotional connections included carefully handling consumer data and breaking up silos to better respond appropriately and in a timely manner to interactions across touchpoints. Deloitte wrote, “Customers don’t care whether it’s difficult or expensive to humanize relationships at scale.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What advice would you have for capitalizing on emotional data at scale? Is greater access to consumer data raising the level of expectations around customer interactions with brands or retailers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Brand messaging, brand stories and the like set the stage for emotional marketing. Emotional connections between human and brand live within the physical product itself."
"All purchase decisions are emotional decisions. If it were not so, the best product or service would always win. They don’t."
"Simply having access to data is not enough, nor is having a staff who is ready and willing to utilize that data to improve a customer’s experience. You need both..."

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14 Comments on "What’s the secret to driving emotional connections with customers?"


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Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Maybe it’s just me, but “emotional data at scale” sounds like an oxymoron. I think in terms of “surprise and delight.” Not “surprise and confuse” and not “surprise and disappoint.” That means having a very clear understanding about the brand promise and the boundaries of the brand promise. Venture outside the boundaries and risk confusing or disappointing. Stay inside the boundaries AND continually offer new and fresh product, then delight is a likely outcome.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

This is going to sound old school, but there is no better way to create emotional connections with customers than with great human-to-human interaction. Apple came out of the gate with a perfect model where there was always (always) someone friendly to talk to you at both the store and on the phone. That sealed the deal right from the get-go. I think you can run all the puppy and baby ads you want, but if your front line people are poor, it won’t matter.

Tony Orlando
BrainTrust

Ditto Lee. I realize that I am a dinosaur, but the connection made by my employees with the customers is the key to selling, and all the cute stuff like AI is fine, but nothing beats a well informed, friendly employee who engages in a manner that makes the sale easy, and they come back again and again.

When I was in college 100 years ago, we had a group business policy class which involved running a computer program on our entire strategy on a fake company that sold widgets. Our group finished last for whatever reason. A computer never takes into account the human factor that makes or breaks a company, and all the technology will not change that.

When I decide to hang it up here, I’m looking forward to my semi-retirement years and I’ll find work somewhere where my selling skills will be appreciated, not having to worry about all the ownership stuff, which will be great.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

There is a quote we love to use when talking about creating and maintaining emotional relationships with customers: “Customers don’t want to marry you, they just want to date you.” Emotional relationships tell the customer you really care. Every business today must focus on this plateau. Creating and maintaining these relationships creates top-of-the-mind awareness.

First step: always greet customers like a friend who just arrived at your front door. Then pay attention and certainly know as much as you can about their desires and habits, but don’t necessarily show off how much you know.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

People scale to create emotional connections; data collects it – not the other way around.

Laura Davis-Taylor
BrainTrust
I’m sitting in a CX conference and the co-creator or Ritz Carlton just presented. He shared some of the keys to their success, which consisted of first understanding what people wanted from the lodging category: good service, timeliness and people that are nice to them. Over and over, they found that the *caring* created more profitability then the rest of it. They were then diligent to understand the impact of a lost guest, which was $200,000. They labeled a negative customer as a “terrorist against the company” and thus empowered people to ensure that when a customer was unhappy, they opened their arms. This is soft stuff from a measurement perspective, yet it is critical to a company’s long-term success. It is also tied to brand expectations — Family Dollar will have very different expectations from Cartier, and the emotions regarding the experiences will vary in accordance. Tools such as NPS and sentiment analysis qual/quant studies can be used to identify what’s happening and why. But without a deeper, empathetic understanding re: what’s driving the… Read more »
Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Ritz-Carlton is like Nordstrom in that they are quoted way too many times as the pinnacle of customer service. I’ve stayed many times as an elite member of Marriott and received no better or worse than others at the Ritz. Then there was that time I was left in their spa covered only in a towel yelling for help… No one from the spa, manager or C-suite could rectify it. Being brilliant on the basics is far harder than spouting what people expect to hear.

Tom Dougherty
BrainTrust
All purchase decisions are emotional decisions. If it were not so, the best product or service would always win. They don’t. The magic is in finding ways to quantitatively understand qualitative values. Values like emotions. These ideas are scalable understandings. At Stealing Share, we have always dealt with emotional triggers. We find it useful to model behaviors to understand the connections between what a person does and what drives that action. In marketing terms theses are called needs and wants. Everyone sees the connection between needs, wants and actions. But emotional triggers do not come from needs and wants. They are not revealed in focus groups because human beings are reluctant to share these triggers. You see, emotional values create our needs and wants. Not the reverse. We recognize that emotional charges are created by belief systems. So we model the behaviors to understand the target audiences’ beliefs. Then we test these belief systems in quantitative research. This allows us to influence and predict behaviors. It’s nice to see that Deloitte has recognized this reality… Read more »
Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

Brand messaging, brand stories and the like set the stage for emotional marketing. Emotional connections between human and brand live within the physical product itself. Humans operate on a cognitive, invisible system of individual human preference, controlling purchase behavior and product decisions. Capitalizing on emotional data requires “emotional mapping” of a product’s interactive sensory attributes to elicit an individual’s sensory preferences. Whether through purchase history or interactive self curation, individual customer preference enables true one-to-one contextual interaction and relationships between human and product and brand. Hiding in plain sight there are massive silos of individual customer preference intelligence. Waiting to be discovered and translated at scale!

Evan Snively
BrainTrust

Simply having access to data is not enough, nor is having a staff who is ready and willing to utilize that data to improve a customer’s experience. You need both and, most importantly, a system that allows you to derive insights from the vast ocean of information which it is all too easy to be overtaken by. Though slightly counterintuitive, I’m a firm believer that AI is a unique and underutilized key to delivering an emotional connection with customers at scale. However be guarded that Artificial Intelligence is only as good as the human intelligence that created it. Finding talent that can marry the two sometimes seems like a quest for the Holy Grail, which is why most brands have not successfully ventured into the space … yet.

Phil Rubin
BrainTrust
1 month 24 days ago

These are some good and not surprising data points for Deloitte, echoing our views on the changes that need to take place with how brands show loyalty to customers. Yes, that’s where loyalty starts, with the brand demonstrating loyalty to customers, not the other way around.

In our research we’ve seen that 80%+ of US consumers view themselves as loyalists and yet a similar percentage feel that brands fail to recognize and be relevant to them.

The challenge and opportunity to scale data is to both demonstrate loyalty from the brand in order to sustain and grow brand trust so that customers are willing to share data. Increasingly the data must go beyond transactional and be contextual, which Deloitte refers to in its findings.

Customer loyalty is no longer driven by loyalty programs but rather by brands “paying attention to customers and acting accordingly.” This means using data to be relevant in a human way, much as we treat each other when it matters so that we can similarly build relationships.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I’m very dubious that many people really “love” or “adore” brands. Anyone who has ever participated in a consumer survey knows the process is often akin to a POW interrogation: ask obtuse questions enough times — “does your mustard make you feel empowered?” — and eventually someone will confess to the answer you want.

That having been said, many people will identify a brand as “mine,” so the analogy to family or at least kinship makes some sense. But it’s a natural outgrowth of the product satisfying consumer wants. Trying to capitalize on this is like “trying too hard” on a first date … it spoils the relationship.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

The pleasant shock of a merchant knowing what I want before I tell them is a great thing. Getting irrelevant suggestions is worthless. Shoppers are connecting with relevant interactions with brands, and the right technologies to help ensure those productive connections are making their way into the innovators’ organizations as we speak.

Balasubramanian Thiagarajan
Guest

True, as long as the merchant does not “show off.” I would rather the merchant waits for me to tell him/her what I need before (s)he suggests what I should go for. I believe retail analytics is going to play a huge role and, in some cases it is already happening. The merchant is going to come address you already knowing what you are in the store for.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Brand messaging, brand stories and the like set the stage for emotional marketing. Emotional connections between human and brand live within the physical product itself."
"All purchase decisions are emotional decisions. If it were not so, the best product or service would always win. They don’t."
"Simply having access to data is not enough, nor is having a staff who is ready and willing to utilize that data to improve a customer’s experience. You need both..."

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