By Aaron Lester
Customers inhabit a world increasingly defined by accelerating change and ongoing uncertainty, as evidenced by COVID-19. At a basic level, customers are looking to the brands and businesses they interact with to get their needs met, but customer needs now extend far beyond just products and services. As the CXNext 2020 keynote (Redefining Engagement in a World Redefined) offered by Jeannie Walters and Adam Toporek makes clear, customers want frictionless, memorable and emotional customer experiences (CXs).
Emotion Matters for CX
“The emotional states of customers have changed,” said Toporek, “today’s customers often operate from fear and uncertainty.” Emotion is far more powerful than logic: “research shows that customers tend to make decisions based on emotion and then justify those decisions later with logic.”
Brands must be cognizant of “negativity bias,” said Toporek, meaning that customers “will give more weight to negative experiences than positive ones.” He cited research indicating that customers who have positive experiences (as opposed to negative ones) are 15.1 times more likely to recommend a brand to others, 8.4 times more likely to trust a brand, and 6.6 times more likely to forgive a brand for mistakes. As Toporek summed it up: “the goals of CX should be first preventing negative emotion, and second generating positive emotion.”
Micro-Moments and the Customer Journey
Walters discussed the concept of “micro-moments,” which she described as “the small things that add up to big things during the customer journey.” Each touchpoint or customer interaction makes up the entirety of the customer experience, and “each micro-moment is either building customer trust or eroding it,” said Walters.
Smart brands map out the entire customer journey, including all the digital and human touchpoints, with an eye toward ensuring no micro-moment gets neglected. Once brands/companies have mapped out the journey, Walters recommends they ask some key questions: (1) “Who is your customer and what concerns do they have?” (2) “What is your customer trying to do with you?” (3) “How do they want to do it?” and (4) “What are your customers feeling” during their journey?
Integrating Digital + Human to Create a Great CX
While digital channels have become the preferred way customers reach out to brands at a time of social distancing and working (and shopping) from home, said Toporek, human interactions remain more emotionally resonant than digital ones. “Don’t ignore the human touchpoints,” said Toporek, “but instead integrate them” into a blended CX approach that’s digital + human. Toporek made the following suggestions for building a fully-integrated digital + human CX:
“Build your digital channels for speed and immediacy,” because fast, frictionless engagement aligns best with customer expectations for digital.
“Use data to personalize customer interactions [and deploy the right content], which increases emotional resonance for CX.”
“Build ‘escape hatches’ into channels” so customers have flexibility about escalating interactions to human agents. An omnichannel approach to engagement gives customers the flexibility they prefer.
“Look for moments to surprise and ‘wow’ customers, even in your digital channels.”
“Empower your people” [human agents] with relevant data and training so they can address customer needs and show empathy when interacting with customers. Building a great employee experience (EX) supports a great CX, and always will.