Emotions – the Key to Successful Customer Relationships

Emotions – the Key to Successful Customer Relationships

One of the most recent wake-up calls for business to business marketers has been the recognition of the importance of emotions in decision-making. Why has it taken us so long to understand this obvious point? It is probably because of the naive assumption that business to business marketing is driven by product, quality, price, delivery and service. Procurement teams are so precise about what they look for from a supplier it is hard to think that they have any emotions.

But they do. They don’t leave their emotions at home when they come to work. They worry about making the wrong decision. They will favour a brand that engenders trust over one that isn’t known or has a black mark. They will watch their own backs, not wanting to choose a supplier that could let them down.

Relationships with customers are dynamic – they change all the time. This is why it is important to understand how emotions play out during the customer journey. The role of emotions is very different at the front end of that journey when the relationship with the supplier is being formed. At that time the emotional drivers will be those that are seductive and gain attention. Suppliers need to win the attention and interest of potential customers. These potential customers need their emotions stirring so the potential customers want to explore and find out more. This is a stage in the customer journey when a huge amount of energy is required to win the customer over. The customer needs arousing with a host of positive emotions.

Later on, when the customer has come on board and the supplier relationship has been going for some time, there will be an emotional need for trust and care. Unfortunately, it is at this stage that things can go wrong.

The courtship phase of the customer journey is relatively short compared to the marriage. The danger is that during the marriage phase, the customer is taken for granted. The supplier loses focus, the customer fails to see value, and new emotions arise. These can be destructive. Irritation, frustration, stress and disappointment may all result in a customer feeling they are not being looked after. The customer journey will come to an end unless a big effort is made to rectify things.

These emotions are a litmus that will alert a supplier as to the need for corrective action. Colin Shaw, in his book The DNA Of Customer Experience: How Emotions Drive The Value, lists a number of emotions that drive decision-making.

Drivers of long-term value

  • Happy
  • Pleased
  • Trusting
  • Focused
  • Valued
  • Safe
  • Care for

Drivers that encourage short-term spending

  • Interesting
  • Exploratory
  • Energetic
  • Indulgent
  • Stimulated

And drivers that destroy the relationship

  • Irritated
  • Unsatisfied
  • Hurried
  • Stressed
  • Neglected
  • Disappointed
  • Frustrated
  • Unhappy

So, keep your eye on emotions during the customer journey. Make sure your emotional antennae are tuned in and build these emotional drivers into your questionnaires.

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