Customer experience is made up of functional & emotional elements. It couldn’t have been expounded better than in the book Building Great Customer Experiences by Colin Shaw and John Ivens. Functional elements may include attributes such as timely, reliable, staff knowledge, etc, while emotional elements are about how you make a customer feel and may include emotions such as valued, cared for and delighted to name a few.

Interestingly, research by Colin Shaw and John Ivens found that 69% of consumers felt that the emotional aspects of how a brand made them feel accounted for 50% or more of the experience.

I can tell you from experience that most organisations do not have a planned customer experience or service promise that includes BOTH Functional & Emotional elements. Typically, organisations focus more on the functional aspects rather than the emotional. There are meetings galore in terms of reliability, timeliness, efficiency, process times, etc.  Little or no time is spent on planned emotions.  Yet, they are absolutely critical in driving loyalty and growth.

Obviously, no brand can focus on just functional or just emotional. I liken it to a chocolate sponge cake with icing, where the sponge cake represents the functional aspects and icing the emotional aspects. Too much sponge and no icing will make the cake taste relatively bland. And, too much icing and not enough sponge makes it too sweet; perhaps sickeningly sweet. But get the proportions just right and you get to offer a delicious customer service.

We have measured emotions with our CX surveys for over 11 years.  What we found is interesting. If you focus on just three emotions – valued, cared for and supported – you are almost guaranteed to create a customer advocate. Of course, there are higher order emotions like making a customer feel Impressed by your brand, but this is harder to achieve.  But remember, you cannot live on emotion alone if your basic functional elements are broken.

Have you ever walked into a five-star hotel and met a frowning concierge? Or have you ever enjoyed visiting one particular eatery regularly just because the guys in the open kitchen there know your taste exactly and customise your order with your preferred blend of spices?

There’s this small restaurant  that I used to frequent many years ago. Not that it was the only eatery there, but it somehow felt comfortable. The staff were courteous and smiled so genuinely every time that I often wondered if they ever had any personal woes. Ever since we moved out of that locality, I didn’t get a chance to go back there. A couple of years later I was driving through that locality and decided to have a quick brunch at that very same restaurant. As soon as I stepped in, the proprietor welcomed me with a warm smile and asked after my health. A few minutes later a waiter came by and greeted me asking why I hadn’t visited there in a long time. Pleasantly happy with this interaction and the warmth of the two staff members, I looked around and found that nearly all the people working there were people I remembered by face since the days of my frequent visits – and the smiles were still as warm as ever.

Over the years as I’ve helped several brands improve their CX practice, I’ve observed that brands that assimilated emotional attributes such as showing customers that they valued them and cared about their well-being, customised their services – often going above and beyond their call of duty, remained consistent with their brand’s promise and showed humanity in myriad ways were the ones that turned into winners. These brands designed experiences that evoked a positive emotional response that created more Promoters. But most importantly, these brands are the ones that are powered by engaged employees.

Now let’s go behind the scenes and see what inspired these employees to project the brand in a positive light.

As we conduct customer engagement and employee engagement surveys we discovered an important connection between the two.  We call it the emotional bridge between CX & EX (employee experience).  The common emotions that drive loyalty for both stakeholders are ‘valued’ and ‘cared for’.

If an organisation wants its employees to feel the passion and go above and beyond their call of duty to deliver great customer experiences, it must set an example itself in delivering positive engagement within the company. Organisations that are high on NPS are also companies that do not stick to employee performance reviews alone. These are companies where managers and staff indulge in regular conversations around building great experiences, where inputs are acted upon, and staff can see how their inputs are driving the brand towards greater heights. Such positive practices and the emotions of feeling valued, cared for and supported by their organisation enhance employee commitment by fostering a sense of oneness with the company.

It is impossible for the management of a company to provide great CX until it fits in the most important piece of the puzzle – employee engagement.

All in all, the crux of an engaged customer and a successful company lies in also having engaged employees.