1 May 2012
Jesse Grimes
Jesse Grimes

Recognizing the power of emotion

Alongside cold, hard financial figures and the black-and-white clarity of Net Promoter Scores, retention rates and cross-selling statistics, one of the key factors in customer experience is resolutely intangible: Emotion. While it’s often at odds with the performance-driven aspects of corporate culture, recognizing the power of emotion in dealing with customers cannot be overlooked. But there seems to be a problem…

Despite the fact that emotions underpin nearly every decision we make – to a greater or lesser extent – they’re still not given the focus they deserve at the business level, when it comes to crafting customer experience.

What’s working against this recognition of the power of emotions? Colin Shaw shares ten reasons:

  1. Businesses have been traditional run by men. Just look at the great TV series ‘Mad Men’. You see how much women were down trodden in the work place and ignored.
  2. Women are better, in the main, at understanding their emotions than men. Women tend to be more empathetic. We can have a great debate on whether that is nature or nurture and/or societal effects but let’s not get into that now.
  3. Businesses like logical/analytical people. These are the people that tend to get promoted and are now in the senior positions in companies. These people tend to do what they are good at, the rational/logical thinking. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  4. Most senior people in organisations are 50-60 years old. In fact the median age for an S&P 500 CEO in 2007 was 55.  This is my age. Us Baby Boomers were brought up on ‘big boys don’t cry’ and ‘be a man’. I bear the scars of trying to convince people that emotions are key aspects of dealing with Customers. When I was in corporate life 95% of my colleagues were left brain focussed. I have struggled daily to get emotions accepted and on to the table to discuss.
  5. Business is about numbers. Clearly businesses are there to make money which requires an analytical approach. The skill of analysing finances and emotions are not easy bed fellows.
  6. As business has become more complex an increased level of rational, logical ability has been needed, again reinforcing this logical approach.
  7. The people who have been revered in business are the tough, go get them, let’s charge over the hill and kill the competition, macho types not the people who are experts on psychology, emotions and other ‘soft’ subjects .
  8. Emotions are soft ,fluffy and difficult to quantify and relate to $ outcome. Our book the ‘DNA of Customer Experience, how emotions drive and destroys value’  Palgrave MacMillan 2007, has gone a long way to showing statistically how much $$$ will be gained from doing this work as well as improving Customer retention and Customer Loyalty.
  9. Back in the day, when growth was around for many markets, people just needed to launch a new product and customers clambered to buy it. Thanks to Joe Pine and Jim Gillmor’s work with the Experience Economy, we know that is not the case anymore. We are at saturation point and now the experience matters the most.
  10. Emotions are hard to define and the science is not precise.
Source: “Ten reasons why the awesome power of Customer Emotions are not being embraced by business” (Colin Shaw)


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