Business

How Emotional Customer Intelligence is Changing Digital Marketing

Published April 27, 2021

Emotional Customer Intelligence

In the age of digital transformation, the way we understand customers has been revolutionized by technology to connect with them on a deeper, more emotional level.

The Customer Experience A.I. is already leveling the playing field in digital marketing, minimizing human efforts to transform the way we analyze customer data. Learn the importance of identifying the feelings that drive customers’ behavior through emotional customer intelligence.

You Don’t Sell Things; You Sell Emotions

Let’s start with an age-old concept called Maslow’s pyramid to explain our meaning. Based on the theory of human motivations, the pyramid was developed in 1943 by American Psychologist Abraham Maslow. 

Moreover, it is a hierarchy of human needs, starting with the most basic ones, such as food and shelter, and ending with the most emotionally complex needs, such as self-fulfillment

Maslow’s pyramid has been highly influential in psychology and sociology but, from a marketing perspective, it is more or less false and misleading at best.

For as long as we’ve known, marketers perceive the truth as having to constantly sell self-fulfillment, even when dealing with basic human needs. Think about the food industry, for example, and how every edible product is tied to a bigger theme or picture. It can include family and tradition, energy and power, or even simply to promote the universal love of chocolate.

Every purchase becomes an experience for the customer, creating an emotional link between them and the product or service while categorizing them into a particular persona. Marketers have always been aware of this, but positioning our brand to connect with the consumers emotionally has been more guesswork than evidence-based science.

As a result of the digital transformation, we generate more customer experience data than ever to learn from. We can also learn to reverse our thinking or the way we approach brand positioning. That is, emotionally engaging with the customers to better position our brand.

The Rise of Emotional Customer Intelligence

Many businesses have moved toward a customer-centric approach, which also means a change in perspective. You must either build or improve your company vision by focusing on what the customers want and need. 

Emotional Customer Intelligence is an emerging field as a result of the digital transformation age. Similar to predictive analytics, it is determined to create a science out of the growing number of customer experience data we have.

The need for a more rigorous and result-oriented approach to analyzing customer emotions is evident through our collected insights. For instance, a recent report indicated that 84% of customers think their buying experience is as necessary as the product or service. 

One case study shows that a major bank introduced a credit card designed for ‘millennials’ to stimulate a more emotional connection between the bank brand and their target customers. Afterward, the credit card use among the millennial group increased by 70%, and new account growth rose by 40%

The same goes for a nationwide apparel retailer that refocused its merchandising and customer experience strategies to reach its most emotionally connected customer segments. In turn, their sales became a threefold increase.

But all the customer experience data in this world means nothing if we don’t know what we are looking for and how to process them properly. Therefore, this is why emotional customer intelligence exists.

Identifying the Emotional Motivators: What do People Really Feel?

Human emotions are a fascinating mystery. For centuries, philosophers questioned what the different emotions are and how many of them exist. The famous Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza even wrote hundreds of pages in his monumental treatise or book called Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order (or just Ethics). He ambitiously tried to identify and explain each human emotion precisely.

Ironically, as we speak, market researchers are doing the same thing as Spinoza.

Discovering that there is no standard definition for emotions, the Harvard Business Review published research on hundreds of brands in dozens of categories and came up with a list of more than 300 ‘emotional motivators.’ They can be helpful for brands to “strategically target the feelings that drive consumers’ behavior.” Each motivator links to various advantages that brands can use to design or improve their product and services.

For example, the HBR researchers found that a prevalent emotional motivator of the customers is to “stand out from the crowd.” To leverage this particular buyer emotion, brands should help the customers to project a unique social identity.

On the other hand, if we find an emotional motivator that reflects one’s “confidence in the future,”  we as brands must somehow let the customers feel that their future will be better than the past. Also, brands should instill a positive mental image into the customers, such as designing every post-pandemic advertisement around the idea of feeling secure, regardless of the brand’s product or the service.

The New Ultimate Goal: Achieving a Full Emotional Connection with the Customer

Understanding our customers better and striving to meet their needs in real-time is an excellent goal among CX managers. However, to reach the newer ultimate goal of understanding Emotional Customer Intelligence is something else.

Generally speaking, marketers are trying to achieve what we can call the “full emotional connection” with customers. The same study by HBR proposed the idea of an “emotional connection pathway,” which can be divided into four stages:

  1. Not an emotionally connected customer
  2. Highly satisfied customer but not fully connected
  3. Perceiving that there’s brand differentiation and is highly satisfied but not a fully connected customer
  4. Fully connected customer

In other words, this pathway simply shows that satisfying the customer by giving them what they are looking for is not enough.

In fact, HBR discovered even more that the customer becomes more valuable at each stage. Then, there is a dramatic increase at the final step. Accordingly, the ‘fully connected’ customers are 52% more valuable than the ones who are ‘fully satisfied.’

So, to reach the full (emotional) connection with our customers, it’s not only the matter of talking or asking them one-by-one. Instead, we can make more use of the customer experience data we have from a considerable number of people. We need to identify the emotional motivators that underlie all our customer experience data. 

But how can we work this out efficiently and accurately? The answer is yet again the incredible technologies presented by digital transformation.

Implementing Customer Experience A.I. to Better Extract and Process Emotions from Data

The one key innovation that makes Emotional Customer Intelligence possible is through the implementation of the Customer Experience A.I.

Artificial Intelligence becomes remarkably better every year. It is predicted to be one of the most revolutionary technological trends of the future, and many studies consider A.I. as vital in any kind of future marketing practice. 

So, implementing A.I. will no longer be perceived as having a competitive edge for companies, but more so serving as the bare minimum required to compete successfully. 

But wait, weren’t we talking about emotions? Can computers understand feelings? The answer is yes – and better than humans can.

Don’t be frightened, though, as some of you may have a hard time wrapping your head around that idea. We aren’t in a Blade Runner Cyberpunk situation (yet).

Artificial Intelligence does not have a real conscience, but the technology is becoming amazingly good at analyzing patterns in data, namely natural language processing.

To put it simply, Customer Experience A.I. can analyze and process a vast amount of raw data all over the internet, such as unstructured customer feedback that often comes from online reviews and social media comments. Then, within this massive pool of texts, the A.I. can scan and identify similar patterns made by different people and what the customers are trying to say. It picks up on certain keywords or phrases used by the customer, scans for specific contexts, draws up analogies, and hundreds of other uses. 

The A.I. can basically understand the customer’s emotions better than the customer!

Awe-struck?

Well, it’s what we do at Wonderflow. Our software is designed to collect, process, and analyze all your customer experience data from different channels or sources. Then, it converts consumer feedback into actionable insights, especially for CX managers.

Let’s face it. Emotional Customer Intelligence has been born and is growing fast; you just need the right tool to get it.

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