Thursday, May 26, 2016

For A Better Customer Experience Evoke Emotion Rather Than Manufacture It

photo credit: Pensive - Sad thoughts? via photopin (license)
There is a trend in customer experience circles to focus on emotion. To be sure, emotion is essential to a brand's customer experience, but focusing on emotion is a little like obsessing over the score of a sporting event. Yes, our team wants more points, but you get there by executing on the mechanics of the game, not concentrating on the scoreboard.

Emotion isn't a tactic in customer experience; it is an outcome. You cannot manufacture emotion; you can only change what you do to evoke a shift in perception. This is why, as we point out at Gartner, customer experience is owned by the customer--it is their perceptions and related feelings--while customer experience management is the responsibility of the marketer.

The distinction is subtle and one of perspective--outside-in rather than inside-out. Marketers can attempt to manufacture emotion by changing website copy to sound friendlier or posting a touching video to YouTube, but we evoke stronger, relationship-building emotions by altering the product or service experience to meet customers' expectations. The former focuses on what the brand wants; the latter on what customers want.

Think of your personal relationship with brands. Do the brands to which you are the most loyal win that loyalty by telling you you're important or by making you feel important? Do they share emotional stories or do they evoke strong emotions through a customer experience that creates value?

What are the emotions you associate with those loyalty-building brands? Does your iPhone pull your heartstrings? Does Costco make you verklempt? Customers do not need brands to manufacture emotions of joy or sadness through stories and scripts but instead to foster feelings of trust, confidence, pride, security, protection, and serenity. Those are the emotions you likely feel toward your favorite brands, and those are the emotions your brand must evoke through its customer experience.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Best Innovation In Social Media Is A Return To Basics

photo credit: Generation Y via photopin (license)
Innovation has become a way of life in marketing, particularly in social media, as marketers jump from one strategy (fan accumulation) to another (SoLoMo) to another (six-second videos) to another (messenger bots), hoping to find the right innovative strategy to improve brand health. The social networks continue to innovate as well, striving to earn more consumer attention and marketing dollars with live video, algorithmic timelines and buy buttons.

But even though consumer adoption of social media remains strong, brands still struggle to put social media to good use that drives demonstrable results. This is because marketers have approached social media innovation from the wrong perspective–they have embraced idea-centered innovation rather than need-centered innovation.

Social media is an inherently consumer-oriented and -controlled channel, and this suggests brands need a different approach—a customer experience approach. The best innovation for brands’ social media right now is to return to basics: Understand your important audience segments, probe their needs and social behaviors, identify how your brand is performing and innovate in a way that satisfies customer expectations.

To read more about how customer experience methodologies can drive better social media innovation, along with some examples of how an ideas-focused approach to advocacy failed while a needs-centric approach succeeded, please continue reading on my Gartner blog.