Emotional Data: Is it the next big thing towards Customer Experience Improvement?

Is Emotional Data the next big thing in customer experience improvement? This article aims to examine how the way companies measure and collect emotional data could improve customer experience. In today’s fast forward consumption-driven economy, more and more companies are making major investments in optimizing the customer experience that is delivered to their customer. Most companies focus on tracking customer’s activity across all channels: physical stores, e-commerce sites and social media, gathering tones of data through their own surveys, customer tracking systems and loyalty programs. Their main goal is to improve customer satisfaction at each step of the customer journey by offering the highest level of products and services. However, what most companies lack is the understanding that nowadays customer satisfaction is often already high which means that customer satisfaction on its own it’s not a competitive differentiator (Boncu & Nastas, 2015). Thus, without a clear measurable and value creating goal, companies risk investing huge amounts of human and capital resources, without delivering a real financial return.

Of course, a high-quality product or service is a mandatory factor for a successful customer experience. However, drivers in today’s customer’s decision process are emotions. According to Harvard Business School, 95% of people’s purchase decisions are made subconsciously, due to emotions (Atkin, 2004). Since customers are influenced more by how they feel about a specific product or service, brands should connect with them at an emotional level, making them feel confident, happy and respected. Brand loyalty comes from genuine relationship, building and trust. Trust cannot be earned by products, volatile stock prices or bottom lines, but can be facilitated by an empathetic human voice (Atkin, 2004). Thus, every marketer’s dream is to have an open window into how customers feel, when interacting with the product or the service they are promoting.  Of course, inside the emotional customer journey, brands need data to understand human emotions and humans to understand those data that will help them provide an excellent customer experience. Thus, brands should focus their interest around the collection of emotional data, known also as behavioral or sentiment data that can offer useful insights, using them carefully in order to make every customer’s experience personal, delivering both customer satisfaction and delight (Lemke, et al., 2013).

Although it’s easy for a company to collect consumer demographic data and online behaviors, collecting and measuring customer’s emotions is still a component of decision buying process that is considered hard to measure. This is where technology comes. Unlike what many companies believe about how the use of technology will district their emotional connection with their customers, what happens in reality is that technology will bring them a step closer to bridge this gap. Through AI based tools, facial recognition, voice analysis, personalized chatbots, emotions can be collected, transformed into data and consequently transformed into useful insights that can bring them closer to their customers, offering a unique customer experience and loyalty. What is important to be mentioned is that the collection and quantification of data should be across different touchpoints such as when they make a purchase online, in social media or in a physical store.

Although sometimes technology is considered an ‘’obstacle’’ against human connection and emotional interaction, if used respectively and with consciousness, for optimization, then it is absolutely a valuable tool. Technology can help a company collect data, determining which emotions appeal to its audience, but can also show the road on how to use these data to connect with audiences to next marketing campaigns. Without doubt a good value proposition is important, but words are not important alone. All things being equal, it is empathy, authenticity, personalization, and emotional connection that will bring the best result out. By connecting with customers at an emotional level, by creating conversations with them, companies and consequently brands build a strong, meaningful and deep relationship with them. This is when, emotional data can be the path towards a successful customer experience.

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Atkin, D., 2004. The Culting of Brands: When Customers Become True Believers. New York: Portfolio.

Boncu, S. & Nastas, D., 2015. Emotile complexe.

Lemke, F., Wilson, H. & Clark, M., 2013. What makes a great Customer experience? Cranfield University, School of Management.

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