Exploring Multiple Emotions During Contact Center Interactions

In a previous post, I discussed results from a joint study that we conducted with Mattersight Personality Labs (MPL) to examine customer emotions within contact center interactions.

MPL isolated the occurrence of four specific emotions: joy, anger, sadness, and fear in more than 118,000 calls across 11 large brands. In addition to detecting the customer emotion, we also analyzed the lengths of the calls, the percentage of calls transferred to other agents or supervisors, and the Net Promoter® Score (NPS®) provided by customers right after their calls.

To normalize the analysis across companies, we divided the data for individual calls by company averages. So a “1.0” is equal to company average.

While the previous post examined the individual emotions, this post looks at the combinations of the four emotions. While less than 1% of callers experienced all four emotions, it happened during more than 650 calls­—more than enough for us to analyze.

1610_emotioncombinations

As you can see in the chart above:

  • Joy plus Fear creates the longest calls. When the calls contain all four emotions, they are almost two and a half times as long as an average call. The next two combinations, which are also more than two times as long as an average call, also contain joy and fear.
  • Multiple emotions create longer calls. The only calls that are shorter than average are those where we could only detect sadness. The next shortest calls were those that only had joy and anger.
  • Anger plus Fear creates the most transfers. When callers exhibit both anger and fear, the calls are transferred at a rate that is seven times the average. The next highest transfers also happen when the caller demonstrates fear.
  • Joy creates the fewest transfers. The three types of calls that have the lowest transfer rates all contain joy, as do six out of seven. The only types of calls without joy that also have below average transfer rates are those that only contain sadness.
  • Joy raises NPS. When a caller feels only joy, the call results in the highest NPS. Joy is also a part of the calls that earn the two next highest NPS.
  • Anger plus other emotions lowers NPS. The lowest NPS occurs whenever anger is combined with another emotion. The worst combination is anger plus sadness.

The bottom line: Anger and fear are terrible emotions to occur on a call.

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

3 Responses to Exploring Multiple Emotions During Contact Center Interactions

  1. Hi Bruce,
    Would you be able to give some examples of how these emotions are expressed in a phone call? I can imagine the caller being angry or joyfull, but how the emotions can be combined in one call isn’t clear.
    Thank you
    Alyona

    • Hi Alyona: We did not listen to any of the calls; Mattersight did an automated analysis of the 118,000 calls. So I can’t provide any specific examples of when and how the emotions came up. But I am not surprised by the occurrence of multiple emotions. People often cycle through multiple emotions. Sometimes they experience them simultaneously (I can be scared and angry at the same time) and sometimes they show up sequentially (I started the call sad, but found out something that gave me joy).

      • Ok, this helps, thank you. Most likely one would experience all four emotions in sequential manner (particularly polarising ones), which is why four emotions in one call result in the longest call length.

        I think the interesting part is to see the difference in NPS when turning the experience from Fear to Joy versus from Angry to Joy. The NPS of Fear to Joy is 1.11 (one of the highest). So, I’d say Fear is Ok to appear on a call, and Angry is the one to be avoided. Would you agree with that?

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