The Cost of Not Creating an Emotional Connection with Your Customers

Posted by
Paul Brook
LivePerson Contributor
12/08/2014 - 10:00

The digital age is all about the customer. As paradoxical as it may seem, the latest in digital tech enables brands to insert a human, personal connection back into business. The same way our favorite barista knows our daily coffee order, so too can brands engage with customers in a humanized, meaningful way.

If brands don’t step up and embrace consumer expectations, customers now have the platform and reach to let their concerns be heard.

Look at what happened to Comcast. One customer recorded his phone conversation with Comcast support, and published the experience online. After talking to six customer service representatives (and 90 minutes in), he didn't have a resolution to his problem. Unfortunately for Comcast, he’s not the first to publish a painful customer service call like this one. And in this case, the recording went viral.

Experiences like this should be a wake-up call to customer service centers and service professionals alike. Today’s consumer has higher expectations than ever before. Brand interactions are personal, and should be treated as such. The tech-savvy consumer demands an emotional, human connection from brands, that is simple and elegant.

Is your brand delivering a truly connected experience to your customers? The first step is defining consumer expectations, and consequently understanding what a truly emotional, meaningful connection looks like.

Consumers’ emotional expectations for products and services at 20-year high [REPORT]

Earlier this year, New York-based brand engagement and customer loyalty research consultancy, Brand Keys, released research that shows consumers’ emotional expectations for products, services at a 20-year high.”

What’s driving those expectations? Today’s consumers want to make more meaningful, lasting relationships with brandsthey want to be able to connect to brands in an elegant and simple way, through their channel of choice. According to the report, categories that are more emotionally-driven are likely to have higher expectations that grow faster.”

These categories ranked as most emotionally-driven” include instant messaging apps, social networking sites, and smartphones and tablets (ranked first, second, and third respectively in terms of highest consumer expectations). I wasn’t surprised that instant messaging apps ranked first. Chat apps are playing a new and more prominent role in business and e-commerce. As mentioned in VentureBeat, “we’ve reached a new era—a new normal,” one in which consumers expect to engage with brands in the most convenient, familiar channel.    

The Brand Keys 2014 Customer Loyalty Index also reported a few new categories that made this year’s list, including Fast Casual Dining, Online Music, Instant Messaging Apps, Online Video Streaming, Online Payment Services, Headphones, and Insurance.

Despite an ever-evolving customer experience (thanks to tech), it’s more important than ever for all business lines to keep up and raise the bar on customer service and customer experience. Brands that best meet consumer expectations cash in, and those that don’t will likely become commodities.

Check out a few brands doing it right for model examples. The report lists brands like American Express, WhatsApp, AT&T, Netflix, Amazon, and Home Depot (among more!) as best-in-class when it comes to meeting consumer expectations around engagement.

Does your customer engagement pass the emotion test?

According to CMO Report, the charge to better humanize brand engagements is paying off: “… companies that are doing a good job of humanizing their brands are seeing a 27 percent higher growth in their stock value than those B2B brands that have failed to make the consumer connection.”

Is your brand delivering on customer expectations when it comes to meaningful messaging and engagement?

Today, every leading company is trying to deliver their brand promise through an emotional connection. Brands are investing in heart-warming video commercials, slick websites, humorous social campaigns, and dynamic mobile apps. But, keep in mind: emotion goes out the window when the app crashes, or your tweet isn’t answered. Consumers dont want to feel like a number; they crave a real-time, 1:1 experience.

It’s not surprising then that emotion falls short when it comes to how brands connect with customers. Are you delivering your brand promise when your customer calls your 1-800 number? Or when you’re responding to an email? To be effective, the emotional experience must be consistent on every channel—whether the interaction is face-to-face, via voice or chat. It begins and ends with a holistic team committed to customer happiness and success.

One LivePerson customer, Backcountry, uses the LiveEngage platform to recreate the in-store experience online. Backcountry deliberately recruits support specialists, called gearheads, who have a universal passion for sports and adventure, so they are better able to create an emotional connection with their sports-loving customers.

The result: Backcountry experiences a $160 average order value with customers using phone, and $220 average order value for those using chat.

“What we’re hearing from our customers is that this is an experience that they’re not finding anywhere else in e-commerce, and that they feel more connected to the brand,” said Jill Layfield, CEO of Backcountry.

The key to emotional connection: Meet your customers with a meaningful connection when and where they choose to engage.

How does your business make emotional connections with consumers? Please feel free to share any tips below!

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