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Feel the love

Creating emotional connections at scale

Using Deloitte’s latest research, three specialists in customer loyalty shine a light on how brands can elevate human experiences, the roles data and customer input play, and why getting the fundamentals right matters so much to reach customers and create connections that last.

How do rational considerations like price and quality kindle emotional bonds with customers? What moments are pivotal to transcend mere product satisfaction to brand love and loyalty? Two questions that should be driving enterprise-wide strategies to build long-lasting relationships with customers.


Centricity, commitment and authenticity

Emotional connections represent considerable financial value to a business. But for that impact to be realized, companies must remain consumer-centric and allow their needs and desires drive the business forward. “To form these really deep emotional connections, you need to be more human and your best laid plan can’t be the only plan,” says Jen Buchanan, Customer Experience Insights Leader, Deloitte Digital.

That consumer-centric approach should be underpinned by an unwavering commitment to building emotional connections, suggests Sarah Logman, Data Science Leader, Deloitte Digital. And if the potential impact on the business isn’t incentive enough, competitive pressure might be. “With the amount of noise in the marketplace, companies can’t afford to be passive about customer relationships. They have to fight for them.”

For Tim Greulich, Operational Customer Experience Practice Leader, Deloitte Digital, centricity and commitment partner with authenticity. Putting a good product or service into the market means companies will have satisfied customers, but not ones who are engaged. “At the end of the day, you can’t fake it with your customers. You have to commit authentically to building those connections, that engagement.”

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Beyond product, price and convenience

Deloitte’s research into consumer loyalty showed good product, price and convenience as fundamentals for building a following. However, when exploring brands people loved, emotion crept in. Subjects indicated their emotional connection was rooted in what Buchanan calls a ‘relatable experience’. “They felt heard by the brand. As though the brand understood where they were coming from.”

“But get the basics right,” cautions Logman. Bonds can be easily broken when the product experience doesn’t match the emotional connection of great advertisement, or by changing a much-loved recipe or design. Getting the basics of product, price and convenience firmly in place gives companies the foundation to build on for that connection.

Getting personal

Whether we are a consumer generating it or a company collecting it, we are awash in data. If a brand is to establish an emotional connection, personalized customer data is critical. The dilemma, however, is in a world of GDPR and hyper-vigilance against cyber security, how does a company get such valuable information? As it happens, from the best possible source: The consumer.

“We found that as customers' bonds with a brand strengthened, they are remarkably open to sharing a great deal about themselves,” said Logman. The caveat is consumers must have confidence companies are responsible in the ways they use and manage the information they share.

For Greulich, that’s the crux of the data issue: responsibility and accountability. Notwithstanding that organizations may already have too much data and an inability to use it effectively, he suggests when bonds with the customer are strong, “part of the relationship is the ability to ask for that information. But it puts new responsibility and accountability on the business: Use it safely.”

Prospects and beyond

While emotions will keep us connected to a brand, they also drive people to it prior to purchase. In B2B, those relationships and the emotions that define them are all the more ‘human’. Buchanan points out how, at the end of the day, it is all about humans. There may be different techniques to get prospects in the door, but it’s about relationships between people. That’s especially true in the B2B space, she offers, where purchases are much bigger investments, say software or services.

Greulich suggests that emotional connections go beyond prospects, and apply to employees and partners as well. But it comes back to the fundamentals: Get the basics right and build from there.

Operationalizing the Human Experience

Deloitte’s research essentially answered the question: How can companies build brand love faster? The key, Greulich offers, is operationalizing the HX – the human experience. “Brand love is created through the human experience, not just the customer experience. You’ve got to look across the enterprise through a more human lens, figure out what needs to change and work it into your operations.”

Logman emphasizes the need to have data drive HX. “To companies who say ‘our customers love us’, or ‘that particular ad campaign worked,’ we always ask: How do you know? Being data-driven, and taking ownership of that data to prove the results of your efforts, is critical to success.”

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