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Using Emotional Data to Create Knockout Customer Experiences

Every morning as we step out of the house, we tend to make judgements and decisions based on the most minute emotional responses of the people around us. If we bump someone on the bus, we reactively apologize and look to their expressions to check that they are not bothered. At work, we survey our manager’s tone of voice and their reactions to evaluate if they are pleased with the work we have done.

It should come as no surprise then, that customer emotions are highly valuable to brands. These feelings influence the choices we make, the way we spend our money, where we spend our time, and also who we give our loyalty to.

Emotional data, also called customer sentiment data, has become as important as customer contact info, click histories, and contextual information. However, capturing the information that helps you understand your customers’ emotions – and how those emotions affect interactions with your brand – is no easy task.

For a start, the technological infrastructure and experience platform your company uses to obtain that data must be able to break through the silos of information collected at different touchpoints and put that information to work, in order to create a customer-centric culture and deliver knockout customer experiences.

This is often not easy to achieve. According to the 2018 Forrester Customer Experience Index, the majority of Singaporean brands performed poorly in the area of customer experience (CX). Even in the U.S., there were no customer experience leaders for the third consecutive year. In order to present meaningful, personalized experiences to consumers, measuring and capturing emotional response should be a business priority.

Emotion as a metric for CX

Thanks to technologies like facial recognition, haptic touch, and wearables, companies can now capture biofeedback data to understand their customers’ emotions better. There’s a variety of emotional data available across touchpoints. A customer’s reaction to an in-store display, biofeedback from a travel experience, or what they felt when watching a film are just a few common examples. Tools like sentiment analysis, or “opinion mining,” allow companies to further make sense of their customer data and yield actionable insights. Such tools help brands tap into what their customers felt when they made a purchase or interacted with the brand online, in person, or via social media.

The technological infrastructure to capture emotional data

Technology can help bridge the gap between data collected from various channels and bringing them together to produce a complete view of the customer, answer specific business questions about how customers interact with the brand, and inform machine-learning models that improve future campaign execution. Companies can’t make their emotional data actionable if they don’t have a data platform that allows them to gather and bring together data from disparate sources.

Data is the key to improved customer experience management, but companies need to pinpoint what type of emotional data to capture in addition to employing an analytics platform that can centralize and standardize their data and deploy it across different experience delivery systems. This is where CIOs play a pivotal role.

CIOs can spearhead efforts to establish a technological infrastructure that can take action on different types of data. That infrastructure should allow you to centralize data from all sources – your CRM, ERP, online and offline customer interactions, and more – which makes a unified customer profile possible. It also should empower data scientists to build machine-learning models that can be the basis for more real-time, personalized customer interactions.

At the same time, your tech stack needs to allow your data teams to be able to build their own custom applications on top of out-of-the-box solutions that often don’t meet every need. This includes data governance mechanisms that can be configured to be privacy-first, allowing companies to improve their experience design while also driving value for customers, which in turn encourages them to share relevant data, instead of restricting its use.

Propelling digital transformation in your organization

In a world where companies want to make their data actionable, emotional data gives them a valuable new stream of insights about their customers.

Emotional data and other cross-channel data present a significant opportunity for businesses to address their company’s unique business challenges and improve customer understanding across the enterprise.

The big opportunities lie in leveraging behavioural data, moving beyond the fuzzy view of the customer to understand what they are feeling at any given point in time. This way, you’ll know what experience to provide, and be able to offer personalization that is relevant in each and every moment.

Ming Fai Chak

Ming Fai Chak, Solutions Consulting Manager, Adobe Southeast Asia.