Getting emotional with your customers

Posted by Matthew Vallance

The team at Engage Customer published a great blog recently focused on mapping the emotions of customers as they engage with a brand. This might sound a little too theoretical  -  the idea that interacting with a customer service agent needs to be planned by psychologists, but human interaction is complex and involves many conscious and unconscious cues.

Take a look at this conversation between an agent working for online retailer Amazon and a customer who has not received a delivery and you can see what I mean. It’s a standard  complaint Amazon must receive thousands of times each day, but what makes this unique is the level of engagement between the agent and the customer. The customer makes a joke about the agent’s  name ‘Thor’ by asking if he can be Odin – Thor’s father in Norse mythology. Not missing a beat, the agent responds as if he were a Norse God and the customer responds in kind, creating a bizarre role-play where they not only continue speaking as if they are Gods, they resolve the dispute over the package – and even manage to blame Thor’s brother Loki for misplacing the parcel!

What worked perfectly here was that the agent and customer had the same frame of reference (probably both grew up on a diet of comic books) which helped them to solve an issue through effectively role playing. While it might be difficult to attain this level of interaction with every customer, what is important is how the agent effectively picked up on the conscious and unconscious emotional cues send out by the customer. Not only did be establish an emotional context for the conversation (through clever use of empathy and humour), I bet he succeeded in winning a ‘customer for life’ after the conversation.

Customer service today is no longer just about answering a complaint or handling a product return. Customers communicate with brands at every stage in the life cycle of their purchase. They ask for information and prices when considering a purchase. In the process of buying something online they might click on a chat window to gather additional information during the checkout processing, or in-store run a quick price comparison on their phone. After a purchase they may have additional questions or problems that need to be resolved. The interaction with customers has moved from predominantly post-purchase to any moment in time. The important point here is that customer satisfaction and loyalty has moved away from very defined measures such as ‘a good price’ or a good rewards programme to the relationship they have with a brand.  And this has implications for when and how we use performance metrics such as CSAT or NPS.

So mapping the emotions of your customers can be an exercise that can potentially impact your bottom line and top line growth.  It’s not just a fluffy way of suggesting you make your customers feel good about spending more money with your company. If companies  can analyse customer  interactions with your brand while taking into consideration the emotions of the customer, then this can be a powerful method of improving service and inspiring loyalty at the same time.

How are you measuring your customer interactions? Have you explored these ideas of emotion mapping as detailed in Engage Customer? Leave a comment here on the blog or tweet me your thoughts on @vallancematt.

Image removed.Image courtesy: Google images