Updated: Feb 18, 2020
by Mark de Brujin
In the unbridled hunger for data it’s easy to forget that, as a brand, we focus on people. Therefore, it is not data, but emotions that should be central to the customer experience.
Recently, there was an extensive study into the customer perception of consumers. The key question: how do you ensure satisfied customers? The result turned out to be so simple that we hardly consider it anymore: by creating positive experiences.
Emotions embed memories
When an organization or brand addresses a customer in a positive way, that same mechanism will come into play with other unforgettable experiences. The birth of a child, a wedding, a special journey: these are the kinds of positive emotional events that we embed in our memories, remaining with us for a lifetime. Those who have beautiful experiences like these are not likely to forget them. The same applies to positive customer experiences.
The reverse is also true: a bad experience can hardly be undone, because negative emotions also last a lifetime. Just as we cannot erase from our memory a death, a serious accident, or a dramatic separation. Therefore, negative customer experiences should be avoided at all times.
Customer experience is personal
We must remember that the customer experience is a strictly personal path, as everyone processes a customer journey in their own way. Personal preferences, previous experiences, and familiarization are important differentiators here.
For example, I spent the last few days abroad with my wife. She was very enthusiastic about the hotel room we booked. Her customer experience was very positive, especially due to her previous experiences. I’ve stayed in a few more hotel rooms myself, because part of my job requires that I travel more often. My experience was very different. Not negative, but I was not as pleasantly surprised as she was.
Music is another example. What is a great song to one person can be a terrible song for another.
Five ways to bring emotion into the customer experience
Learn what drives your individual customers: If you want to add a personal touch, you must know what is really important to someone. What really drives someone? What are their passions; what makes them truly happy?
You need to know this from each individual consumer, because their customer experience is ultimately so personal. That’s why collecting individual customer data remains important: without that data, you don’t know the person, and you can’t apply that knowledge in the customer experience.
Ask for the correct data: For a long time, companies thought that data was a kind of money. The more you had, the better. GDPR, the new European privacy legislation, puts an end to this kind of practice. In addition, consumers’ privacy awareness is growing. We are becoming increasingly cautious about what we reveal.
Nevertheless, customers are quite willing to share information about themselves, with approximately 80 percent willing to hand over data in exchange for a better customer experience. But you have to know what details you can ask for, and what customers prefer to keep to themselves. This can be accomplished, for example, by means of A/B testing with web forms, or by simply asking for it via a customer survey.
Please note, however, that no one just gives out personal details. Therefore, you should always explain why you want the data, what you will do with it, and, above all: how it will benefit your customer.
Imagine you are a manufacturer of fitness trackers – a user’s body weight might be interesting personal data. In combination with other data, such as age and resting heart rate, it allows you to say something about someone’s general fitness level. Not many, however, will give out their weight easily. But if you explain that this gives the customer a better indication of his or her fitness level and progress, many will provide that data.
Centralize all customer data: If you want to appeal to a sentiment, you need to have a 360-degree view of the customer. In that case, it doesn’t help if customer information is distributed across several separate silos. However, this situation will quickly arise when marketers use a separate tool for each marketing activity.
By integrating all the data on a single platform, you will gain a total picture of the customer much faster and more effectively. In this way, you can bring out unique insights and offer a consistent customer experience.
Apply smart profiling: Profiling allows you to cleverly segment your customers, offering them a customized experience. A good way to find out about preferences is by monitoring online customer behavior. Suppose someone often searches for white cycling shoes on your site. And suppose that same customer also looks remarkably often at Under Armour clothing. You can do something with this: you know someone’s favorite color (white), favorite sport (cycling), and favorite clothing brand (Under Armour).
All marketing activities related to cycling, white trainers, and Under Armour may be of interest to this person. With that knowledge, you can approach someone in a much more targeted way, and thus ensure a positive customer experience. Again, do pay attention to the GDPR regulations.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning enable you to take profiling to an even higher level, allowing you to discover patterns in preferences. You can then predict which follow-up purchases someone is interested in, and thus almost literally lets your marketing systems ‘think along’ with the customer.
Provide positive surprises: People like to be surprised. As many as 58 percent would, for example, like to receive a freebie or a gift. However, surprises can also be in the details. Dutch retailer Coolblue is a master of this. They have turned the creation of unique moments of surprise into an art form. Their packaging, for example, often contains some witty details.
One way to surprise customers positively is by providing all kinds of value-added services around your core service. A great example can be found with Weissbeerger. They supply ‘connected bars’ to the catering industry, full of sensors that record all kinds of data. This includes the temperature of the beer, but also which beer is sold and in which quantities.
This provides the company with a huge amount of real-time data. Based on this, they develop smart services that add value for their customers and surprise them positively.
This enables Weissbeerger to proactively warn customers when the quality of the beer threatens to be compromised. The company also sends out smart monthly reports with consumer trends and tips for boosting sales. In addition, they ensure that the customers of their customers (i.e. the consumer) get a good customer experience. They surprise consumers, for example, with coupons for tasting a new beer, specifically by distributing it to all the bars and catering companies in the region of the festival where it is served.
It’s all about people
We talk so much about technology in the marketing world that we soon might forget about the human aspect. It’s not about data, but about what you do with it – so that, in the end, you can make a better connection with people. Anyone who understands that will conquer the hearts of their customers forever.
Learn more about what consumers want from brands here.