How do Emotions Factor in to the Customer Experience?
Thinking about how your customers feel in addition to what they're doing within your product.
Happy Sunday, friends ☀️
I hope you’re having a fantastic, relaxing weekend. Another sunny and warm one in Colorado, which means extra time outside including popsicles on the patio (hadn’t had one in ages) and water gun fights (still taking advantage of my 4-year-old’s accuracy).
As promised last week, we’re talking about emotions in this week’s email and why they’re important to consider. I also talk about a valuable customer journey exercise we recently did over at Ness and share a blank template to run your own.
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Your Customers Have Emotions, Not Just JTBD
Obvious, right? Yet, in my experience, also a key factor that’s easy to forget while we’re busy thinking about solving the tactical job to be done.1
A few examples just to illustrate:
If I’m signing up for MyFitnessPal, I’m probably eager to get started with tracking my food. I might also be feeling apprehensive about what I’ll find out once I get started.
When I start using You Need a Budget (my fave!), I’m looking to more effectively manage my money, but I might also have some guilt hidden in there about my spending habits.
After strapping on my Whoop, I’m looking for the basics on tracking my sleep and my workouts. But, I might also feel uniquely motivated about the future - excited to finally commit to regular workouts.
It’s critical to understand this emotional layer for at least three reasons:
First, building products with this level of empathy makes human sense - as in it’s the right way to treat people - in addition to business sense.
Second, failing to build this into your product thinking leaves you with only half the solution. You could engineer the best food tracking app in the world with the most intuitive interface and complete catalog of items. You’re missing (at least!) half the equation if you’re not simultaneously building in inclusivity, acceptance, motivation, etc into the whole experience.
Third, customers typically only tell you about the problem they’re facing and leave you guessing at their underlying motivations and self-talk. This is critically important to understand in customer support where the right word or phrase can have a tremendous impact.
Bringing Emotions to the Forefront
A few months back, I led a customer journey exercise at Ness that highlighted this third point in particular.
Teammates were separated out into groups and given a troublesome scenario - essentially issues we expect customers to hit while using our product. Their next step was to write out the desired outcome, which included more than just resolving the obvious issue at hand. It included pieces like maintaining trust and credibility with the customer, putting processes in place to prevent this issue from happening again, etc.
Now that each group had a beginning (scenario) and an end (desired outcome). They mapped out each anticipated step from start to finish essentially uncovering the resolution path for this customer.
At each step in the journey, they filled out a few specific details including a section that asked the following:
What is the customer feeling at this moment?
I thought this was one of the most interesting sections across the entire exercise.
For example, let’s imagine you were on a waitlist for a credit card. Finally, it was your turn to apply. You enter all of your details…womp, womp you’re declined. Remember, you’ve been eagerly anticipating this moment for weeks. You fire off an email to Support essentially asking what’s up and how you can fix it.
You receive a barebones (but technically accurate) response:
Sorry you were declined! It looks like [XYZ reason]. Please wait 2-3 months and reapply.
This response does nothing to address any fear, frustration, or nervousness you have after being declined. You’re probably not likely to reapply in the future.
Instead, what if you received a response like this?
I completely understand your frustration. It looks like you were declined for [XYZ reason], and while I don’t have visibility into the specifics for your situation, we have compiled some resources here that others have found helpful [LINK].
We would love to be able to approve you in the future. Here’s what I’d suggest:
In the meantime, [INSERT OTHER WAYS TO ADD VALUE].
Much better, right? If I received that reply, I’d feel like I’m not alone (“others have found helpful”) and reassured that there’s a clear path forward.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I have a lot more to say about the tactics for appropriately addressing emotions specifically within customer support including things like:
How agent metrics and evaluation incentivize specific behaviors
Empowering your agents with context clues and data
Proactively identifying signs of frustration in your product
Verbiage suggestions (Support often uses “I’m sorry” far too often)
The purpose here was to bring visibility to and empathize the importance of emotions alongside the tactical job to be done. Always be asking yourself:
How might this customer be feeling right now?
What can I do to further encourage positive emotions and/or acknowledge or alleviate critical ones?
I’d love to hear your thoughts though. What’d I miss?
From my Pocket
Reads I enjoyed from across the web this week.
Not knocking the framework at all! I do think it’s easy to get hyper-focused on the task and lose sight of the broader picture.