Customer experience experts say emotion drives behaviour as they herald the beginning of the Experience Age

For a moment, it was a strange ‘customer experience’ for the team at Information Age — as we read that the Information Age was ending. The panic was soon over, as we realised that this was no reference to us, that information is still important, but that in the field of customer experience, experts have concluded that emotion matters more.

And vanity is out too. It turns out that social media metrics such as likes, comments, shares, retweets, and posts are less important than many assume. It seems companies need to spend less time admiring the reflection of their activities by counting likes, and other vanity metrics, and measure social results in terms of real return, using it to answer questions like:

• Are we increasing customer satisfaction?
• Are we increasing revenue?
• Have we improved customer retention?”

Indeed, according to Gartner, 80% of their clients use vanity metrics to determine social success, when they should be focused on measuring the true business value derived from their social strategies.

The customer experience experts included gurus from Ocado, Virgin Trains, Thames Water, Government Digital Services, LinkedIn and Microsoft, who spoke at a conference organised by digital engagement platform Orlo.

The overall conclusion: As far as customers experience is concerned, emotion drives behaviour. If brands can be there instantly, effectively and meaningfully when customers need them most, they can ‘create amazing online experiences’ and inspire positive emotions, influencing behaviour at scale.

The future of customer experience: catering to new audiences with the right tools

Co-founder of Aircall, Jonathan Anguelov explains to Information Age the future of customer experience and why business leaders need to move away from siloed channels to a fully digitised system, allowing greater interaction.

So, what does that mean?

3.2 billion people worldwide are actively using different social media channels, and “sales and marketing teams now need to mirror consumers by moving easily between online communication channels and conversations, while retaining linked records of those conversations,” or so Orlo summarised.

Other conclusions included

  •  AI doesn’t have to eliminate human contact. Instead, it is making contact centre roles easier work by automating repetitive, low value tasks, leaving humans to handle more complex, niche situations. Information Age, that’s us, not the era that is supposedly ending, is fond of information to give detail to these statements and Orlo’s CTO and co-founder Ben Nimmo duly obliged. He said: “Not everything that can be automated, should be automated. At the heart of every great consumer experience is a perfect synergy between human empathy and digital engagement. Simple enquiries such as checking on the status of a delivery are prime candidates for a self-serve chatbot. However, a discrepancy with your bank account requires the reassurance and empathy that only an empathetic, customer service agent can provide. The challenge for brands will be achieving the perfect balance between ruthless efficiency and meaningful engagement.”
  • By creating powerful experiences and inspiring positive emotions with customers, brands can influence behaviour at scale. According to research from Forrester, when customers feel valued, 87% become advocates and 74% remain with the brand.
  • According to Ocado, making web chat its channel of choice has helped reduce customer effort when contacting the retailer, increase customer satisfaction and reduce costs. Ian Pattle, General Manager at Ocado said that using digital channels can help to push standards higher. While web chat is live conversation, it allows agents time to source the correct information without the immediate pressure to say the right thing compared to a phone call. Over the last three years, Ocado has seen a customer driven channel shift, with web chat outstripping social media as the communications platform of choice, and also reducing the number of calls, emails and social media queries.
  • Andrew Clough, Director Public Sector Business Applications at Microsoft said that his team is increasingly seeing businesses focus on customer experience in their social media strategies, with over 75% of social business strategists rating it as their number one priority.
  • Finally, a recent Orlo research study showed that 86% of large EU brands regard emotion as highly important to online customer experience. The research also revealed key emotional triggers that create positive customer emotions and powerful online customer experiences include having confidence in a brand (67%); simple, stress-free interactions (57%); and feeling safe and secure (52%). Respondents also highlighted key benefits in creating positive customer emotions – with 63% recognising high customer satisfaction, 61% customer loyalty and retention, and 53% building strong relationships as core benefits.

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Michael Baxter

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Customer Experience