We like to think that we make decisions – and that our customers make decisions – for pragmatic reasons. What’s the shortest link between two points? What’s going to deliver the most value? Who’s offering the best prices? Those factors certainly do count in business decisions, but there’s much, much more.

Over at Beyond Philosophy, Colin Shaw and his team have spent years researching the roles that emotions play in the buyer/seller relationship, and applying the results to help organizations to create deliberate, emotionally engaging customer experiences that drive value, reduce costs and build competitive advantage.

As Forrester Research points out in ‘2013 Predictions for the Customer Experience Industry’:

“Emotional insights will take center stage. The idea that happy customers are more likely to remain loyal, try new products and services, and spread good news about their experiences has started to catch on. Over the past several months, we’ve seen a rise in the number of companies pondering the connection between enjoyment and metrics like satisfaction and Net Promoter Score (NPS). In fact, one global company statistically demonstrated that several emotional factors trump NPS in predicting customer loyalty, effectively dethroning ‘would you recommend?’ as the ultimate question.”

As Colin notes in this LinkedIn post, “How Emotions Generate $$$”:

…Many organizations talk about their desire to have ‘loyal’ Customers, as they know this is the most cost-effective way to make more money. However, ironically they seem to miss the fact that loyalty is built on (an) emotional bond. Very rarely do you hear an organization talking about Customer emotions; instead they talk about price, deliveries, speed etc.

Research shows over 50% of a Customer’s experience is about how a Customer feels. Our research discovered that there are twenty emotions that drive and destroy value and we can statistically prove by how much. This applies in both Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B).

Pyramid of customer emotions

Let me explain what you see here:

Destroying cluster: These are the emotions that, if evoked, will destroy value.

Attention Cluster: These are the emotions that marketing attends to. They try and make the customer feel interested; they try to stimulate Customers to explore what is being offered. But this doesn’t mean the Customer will stay with you. These emotions drive short-term spend but not long-term spend.

Recommendation and Advocacy Cluster. If you want your Customers to stay you need to be evoking these emotions that drive long term value and are measured through Customer loyalty, Net Promoter etc.

This is all great, but what do you do about it? What do you have to change that will drive value?

To answer this we need to introduce the whole area of the subconscious experience. We don’t have enough time to go into this here but suffice it to say, there is a big difference between what Customers say and do. For example, Disney knows when they ask Customers what they would like to eat at a theme park, typically people will say they would like to have an option of a salad. But Disney also knows that people don’t eat salads at theme parks! They eat hot dogs and hamburgers. Another example is: how many people say they are worried about the environment but when they are offered eco-friendly products that are slightly more expensive than the normal products, they don’t buy them?

This model shows what customers desire, i.e. what they say they want, which can be very different from what drives ‘value’.

Customer emotion quadrants

Conscious: Customer says they desire it and it does drive value

Subconscious: Customer doesn’t say they desire it but it does drive value

Deception: Customer says they desire it but it doesn’t drive value

Invisible: Customer doesn’t desire it and it doesn’t drive value.

It’s when you distribute the attributes or touch points of your Customer Experience across these four boxes that you really see where to focus your efforts on.

So, what do you think? Are you using emotional measurement in your marketing and sales efforts? What’s working?