Perspectives

Emotional connection and the customer experience

Where’s the love? And can you measure it?

​Traditionally, customer sentiment has been based on measuring satisfaction and advocacy. But a more critical factor is the emotional connection customers have with a brand. To get to this deeper understanding, companies should incorporate both internal and external data into their customer experience (CX) measurement programs.​

How do your customers love thee? Can you count the ways?

​Consumer buying behavior isn't driven solely by logic. Emotion plays a significant role as well. Companies that forge an emotional connection with their customers can drive brand loyalty and advocacy, which in turn leads to greater spending and share of wallet.

Our experience has shown that emotional connection is actually a much better predictor of customer behavior than satisfaction and advocacy, combined. A Harvard Business Review study agrees, finding that customers who are "fully connected" emotionally are 52 percent more valuable than "highly satisfied" customers.

How much does emotional connection count? Over the past decade, the top 10 most "intimate brands" (i.e., those based on emotion) have consistently performed better than the Fortune 500 and S&P indices for both revenue and profit growth. That's according to the "Brand Intimacy 2017 Report," which was published by MBLM, a branding agency. This report also noted that "these brands command a price premium, enjoying more financial resilience than brands in the same industries that are not intimate."

But as companies embark on improving their CX programs and strengthening the emotional connections customers have with their brands, measuring the effectiveness of these initiatives can be a difficult task.

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What are the challenges in measuring customer experience?

Organizations often approach CX measurement by focusing just on external data, gathered through customer satisfaction surveys, for example. The problem? It can be hard to tie these findings to a company's tactical operational improvements.

Many companies do evaluate how they're executing CX, via internal quality assurance programs, for instance. Yet this may present another challenge: Accessing potentially large amounts of data, which has been collected by various stakeholders and frequently stored in separate siloes and different systems, can be difficult.

The result can be an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of CX that doesn't drill deep enough to measure emotional connection. To fill in the blanks, organizations could focus on the appropriate external and internal components of CX—and then merge the two to see the larger picture.

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What external customer experience measures should companies track?

​External measures should assess customer perceptions, as well as how those perceptions compare with expectations. Organizations can analyze customer sentiment information through:​

  • Qualitative research studies that explore customers' behaviors and decision making
  • Voice-of-the-customer surveys that monitor an organization's ability to meet or surpass customer expectations
  • Quantitative research designed to uncover statistical relationships between sets of data
  • In-field customer intercepts, which gather customer feedback in the moment
  • Social media listening, which enables companies to gather and score information from online review sites and social networks
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What internal customer experience data should companies capture?

Methods that can be used to evaluate how well the company is executing against its CX design include:​

  • Field inspections and mystery shopping to assess brand compliance, facility quality, and service execution
  • Operational data from channels, such as call centers, websites, and internal management systems
  • Human resources data, including turnover, average tenure, training attendance, and employee engagement
  • Compliance data, such as adherence to safety, security, and regulatory standards
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What are the benefits of merging external and internal data?

​CX improvement requires knowing what customers think and feel and how that relates to the way the organization operates. By bringing together findings from both external and internal data analysis, organizations can:

  • Gain insight into gaps in process and training
  • Set priorities for resource allocation
  • Determine which operational practices most influence customer perception and customers' emotional connection to the brand

​​With access to ever-increasing amounts of data, the challenge of measuring CX will become even more complex. Therefore, accurately gauging what customers experience, gaining a holistic view of the root causes, and driving true CX improvement will depend on the cohesive capture and analysis of both internal and external metrics.

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How can LRA, a Deloitte business, help?

No, love isn’t all you need. But it is a critical factor in brand performance.

A better understanding of customers’ emotional connections and overall experience with a brand can help organizations more effectively drive customer engagement, operational efficiency, and revenue growth. That’s where LRA comes in.

LRA, a Deloitte business, measures and combines internal and external factors, allowing an organization’s marketing and operations teams to collaborate on brand delivery and reshape the customer experience. As a full-service market research group—with an in-field customer experience measurement team—LRA helps clients strengthen their operations at individual locations around the world.

Learn more about LRA's service offerings

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