Customer Engagement in the Year of Emotion
This is the first in a two-part review of a CCMA / BT sponsored Customer Engagement seminar held in January 2016 to kick start the Year of The Customer. This first part explores the critical role of making customers FEEL valued. Part two looks at the role of company culture and leadership in delivering great customer experience. You can read part two here.
Oh what a feeling!
American Civil Rights activist Maya Angelou once famously said
‘’People won’t remember what you said, they won’t remember what you did but they will remember how you made them feel.’
As I listened to the great line-up of speakers sharing their thoughts and predictions for Customer Engagement in the year ahead at the BT/CCMA annual January lunch, Maya Angelou’s words kept ringing in my ears.
Our daily lives are becoming more and more digitally connected. And it seems that with our ‘always on’ lifestyles customers increasingly value speed and efficiency over face-to-face human interaction. In this technology-laden world of ours little wonder then that Bruce Temkin, a leading Customer Experience (CX) author and blogger, has hailed 2016 the Year of Emotion.
Ian Golding, CX strategist and blogger echoed this thinking at the BT/CCMA business lunch. He spoke about how once the ‘basics’ are met – functionality (does your product or service do what people want it to do?) and accessibility (how easy is it for people to do what they want to do?), the vital third component is ‘emotion’. The majority of customer interactions or experiences however, end up in a ‘non-emotion’ zone. This, he believes is the most dangerous zone of all – the non-engagement zone. With over 100 international flights under his belt last year, he can remember only three flights. Two bad. One great. (The latter involving an unexpected but welcome glass of champagne!)
And yet other research cited by Chet Chauhan, VP with SalesForce in the panel discussion suggests that ‘delighting customers’ every time does not in fact increase loyalty. Rather it’s consistent delivery of experience (in other words meeting the twin expectations of functionality and accessibility consistently over time) that actually increases loyalty. So even though we love to feel the ‘high’ of a great experience and love to rage on about a bad experience (and of course share, tweet and talk about it) the less effort we expend in getting what we want as customers is what ultimately builds trust and drive loyalty.
Is consistent experience harder to achieve for more mature organisations dealing with legacy systems and structures? Yes. Is consistent experience harder for service organizations – where sometimes ‘success’ is measured by the extent to which a company’s offering is invisible to customers? Yes. But, in the pragmatic words of Lisa Harrington, (BT Group’s first-ever Chief Customer Officer appointed last year) ‘’Customer Experience is not rocket science…it’s just hard. We don’t have a strategy challenge, what we have is an execution challenge.’’
All the speakers were unanimous in their predictions for Customer Engagement in the year ahead. 2016 will be about meeting the increasing expectations and needs of mobile customers especially in the area of support availability for when things don’t go right. It will be about balancing the conflicting goals of security concerns versus ease of access (think biometrics! says BT’s Head of Insights Dr Nicola Millard!). It’s about omni-channel integration.
So my take on the Year of Emotion ahead? And with apologies to the marvellous Maya Angelou. People will remember did they get what they asked for. They will remember did it take a lot of effort AND if they remember how you made them feel – whether it was love or hate, rage or delight they are going to go tell everyone about it!