Want Loyal Customers? Start Talking About Their Emotions!

Did you know that customers who feel adoring after an experience are more than 11 times as likely to buy more from a company than customers who feel angry? And customers who feel appreciative are more than 5 times as likely to trust a company than those who feel agitated?

That’s because how customers feel about an interaction has a significant impact on their loyalty to a company. So let’s talk about emotions.

Despite the importance of customer emotions, they are all too often neglected (or outright ignored) inside of companies. As a result of this negligence, consumers give their providers very low emotion scores in our Temkin Experience Ratings.

It’s time to start talking about emotions. To help spur this dialogue, we introduced a new vocabulary that we call the Five A’s of an Emotional Response.

1612_5asofemotionalresponse

Every time a customer interacts with you, they feel one of these A’s:

  • Angry: Customers feel wronged by the interaction and will look for opportunities to tell other people (a.k.a. vent) about the situation. They will try to stay away from the organization.
  • Agitated: Customers didn’t enjoy the interaction and will think twice about doing business with the organization in the future.
  • Ambivalent: Customers had no significant emotional response and will remain as loyal as they were before the interaction.
  • Appreciative: Customers feel that the organization outperformed their expectations and are more inclined to do business with the organization in the future.
  • Adoring: Customers feel like company fully met their needs and will look for opportunities to tell other people about the situation. They will try to interact more with the organization in the future.

If you’re still wondering why you might want to talk about the Five A’s, here’s some data that will hopefully entice you to increase your emotion vocabulary. We analyzed the loyalty of 10,000 U.S. consumers based on the Five A’s of their emotional response to interactions across 20 industries – more than 100,000 overall interactions in total.

1612_loyaltyoffiveasofemotion

As you can see above, the Five A’s aren’t just a set of words, they’re a strong indication of the loyalty of your customers. Compared with those who feel “angry,” customers who feel “adoring” are more than 11 times as likely to buy more, 17 times as likely to recommend the company, 9 times as likely to try new offerings, 6 times as likely to forgive the company if it makes a mistake, and 10 times as likely to trust the company.

If you are not talking about emotion, then you’re not being purposeful about customer loyalty. Here are some ways that you can start using the Five A’s:

  • Training. If you teach all employees this scale, then your organization will have a common vocabulary for discussing customer reactions. This framework will help trainees gauge how customers would likely respond to situations and discuss what they could do to improve the customer’s ultimate emotional response.
  • Coaching. Supervisors can ask their employees a very simple question after an interaction: “How do you think the customer felt about the call?” This can work for any employee that interacts with customers: phone reps, retail salespeople, cashiers, insurance agents, bank tellers, etc.
  • Designing. When you are creating a new experience (product, process, interaction, etc.), get feedback from customers about how they feel. Internally, you can have discussions like… “Most of the customers were ambivalent, but if we make this change then I think we can make most of them appreciative and even a few of them will be adoring.
  • Tracking customer emotions. Every time employees interact with a customer or make a decision, they can give themselves a score based on what they believe is (or will be) the customers’ most likely emotional response to their action:
    • Angry (-3)
    • Agitated (-1)
    • Ambivalent (0)
    • Appreciative (+1)
    • Adoring (+3)

The total across these interactions and decisions represents a customer delight score. Employees can calculate this score on a regular basis (daily, weekly) and track how well they are doing over time.

Having an emotion vocabulary will hopefully get you to focus more about this critical topic. And if you just start talking about emotion, you will help stimulate employees’ natural empathy. So… start talking about emotion!

The bottom line: Talk about making customers adoring, not angry.

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

2 thoughts on “Want Loyal Customers? Start Talking About Their Emotions!”

    1. Hi Kevin: I agree. This is not an original theory, but this research isn’t about proposing a new theory. It’s about two things: 1) Providing evidence of the theory in a way that hopefully motivates people to act on it; and 2) Providing easy to apply practices so that people can make improvements given the reality of the theory. I’m happy you agree that customer emotion drives loyalty, but we have lot’s of data showing that companies ignore it. So the “theory” alone has not been sufficient. Visit IntensifyEmotion.com

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