What is Good Customer Service: Understanding Your Clients’ Emotions to Design a Better Customer Experience

By Monday April 30th, 2012

Brolik went to SXSW this year, specifically to attend the interactive conference. Colin Shaw, CEO of Beyond Philosophy gave a great lecture on differentiating your company by focusing on the emotion associated with your brand. A particular statistic stood out to me – 85% of senior leaders say that differentiation alone is no longer sustainable... View Article

Brolik went to SXSW this year, specifically to attend the interactive conference. Colin Shaw, CEO of Beyond Philosophy gave a great lecture on differentiating your company by focusing on the emotion associated with your brand. A particular statistic stood out to me – 85% of senior leaders say that differentiation alone is no longer sustainable for long-term growth. This got me looking at our process and thinking about how to design a better customer experience. Let’s face it, as much as we would like to think people are rational, analytical thinkers, most of the time folks run off of emotion and energy. This is why I think there is a dissonance between the straightforward, rational process we as online service providers take our clients through, and the emotional highs and lows that process yields. I’m suggesting that instead of attempting to pigeonhole customers into specific avenues, we try harder to look at the experience through their eyes and make ourselves open to adjustments along the way. Take a moment and place yourself in the shoes of a highly invested client, and see if your perspective changes.

Try thinking about a few of these key points:
(1) Where do you see clients feeling the greatest cognitive dissonance with your brand and process?

(2) Where do your clients feel the most connected with the experience you’re delivering?

(3) Are you structuring your communication to make your clients an integral part of projects?

(4) What are the most common emotions associated with your projects upon completion? Let’s go back to what may be the most important focal point, the dissonance.

Where are the biggest disconnects with your clients?
We’ve all been in situations where things turn out well in the end, but in the thick of it there seems to be a fair number of misfires. Shaw suggests a simple solution for this. Creatively ‘mindmap’ your process and identify the ‘pain points’ where customers feel disconnected. More times than not, you’ll identify areas where clients feel left out, having unanswered questions, and negative emotions toward your brand. While these feelings may not always occur, when they do, make sure to take note and plot them on your mindmap. As service providers we can’t expect our clients to understand all the small details, and it’s not their responsibility to. Instead, we should do our part to recognize signs of confusion and frustration, and do what we can to help foster understanding and positive emotions. The more aware we are of these areas, the less likely they are to happen, and the better prepared we are to handle them when they come up.

Where do clients find the most value in your process?
It’s equally important to note the times where excitement and positive emotion run high within your process. How come? People enjoy feeling connected and knowing they can have influence in the decisions being made. This is especially true for those who are highly invested in the success of a project. Increasing a customer’s perceived value and awareness of their ability to contribute will positively affect their overall outlook. Rather than using a linear model of providing value to your clients, think about what their expectations of value are and what you can do to increase that value. Taking it a step further, think about what customers desire from your brand and pinpoint areas that can deliver value above their general expectations. Delivering in these previously unidentified areas becomes easier because there was little expectation to begin with, but there is great potential to affect the perceived value.

Structure communication to have one, cohesive voice
Reflect on how your communication makes others feel, and how that in turn pushes them to react to what you say. Take a simple example Shaw used: the pens at your local bank. More times than not, these pens are chained to a desk. What kind of message is this sending to their customers? Do they anticipate their customers are planning on stealing them? You may not equate the communication you have on a daily basis to pens at a bank, but in many cases the ways we choose to correspond can have a similar effect. Service providers should structure these messages in ways that ensure the trust and appreciation they have for clients is understood. This idea operates on a more subconscious level, but in facing facts, we find more times than not our subconscious governs how well we ‘play with others.’

How do your clients feel when a project has ended?
The ‘peak end rule’ shows us that we should look at our process and design it in ways that leave our customers with positive emotions when things come to a close. Admittedly, this is not an easy thing to do. At times things become skewed, communication lacks, and a project is left feeling abandoned. What can we do to change this perception and give our clients what they ultimately need and are looking for? Rather than focusing strictly on the product or service we deliver, we can alter our focus to think about the emotion surrounding the end of a project. Do clients leave feeling valued and pleased or disappointed and neglected? Completely separate from the end product, we should pay attention to our client’s emotional levels. If customers feel as though they’re being supported and cared for, they are more likely to consider interacting with the brand that delivered those emotions in the future. Ultimately, this helps to facilitate the mindset of a long-term partnership. And, really, shouldn’t that be the end goal?

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About the Author

Jason Monte is the Sr Account Executive at Brolik, a Philadelphia Digital Agency. Jason enjoys researching and implementing various strategies to influence the dynamic of collaboration and creativity, and likes to experiment with how the wording of an email or seating in a meeting can change the nature of a conversation. He might be studying you right now...