Article

What happens when corporates start designing for feelings?

Rational thoughts are easy to talk about and therefore easy for staff members to focus on and use to garner support. Emotions are more difficult to understand, express and use to inform business decision-making.

" I am threatened… I experience fear… I feel horror. "

Emotions and feelings

Neuroscientists are revealing more about how our brains function. Antonio Damasio affirms that feelings are ‘mental experiences of body states’ which arise as the brain interprets emotions; and emotions are physical states that arise from the body’s responses to external stimuli.

I am threatened… I experience fear… I feel horror.

Mind the gap

Aspects of Marketing are focusing more on tapping into certain emotions that drive choice within a category, in line with brand. It has been increasingly recognised that doing this successfully unlocks customers’ heart strings, share of wallet and ultimately loyalty. And with strong loyalty, comes more tolerance for the odd occasion when a company messes up a service interaction or product launch.

However, this increased focus doesn’t necessarily reverberate across other functions. Operations, Finance or perhaps Pricing teams have been known to change the rules of the game without thinking enough about the significant impact on the way customers will feel as a result.

Let’s consider a utility company that raises prices to meet the profit expectations for the year in an economic climate that’s a little tough. The impact that has, in a category which is already considered to be over-priced by many, can be substantial. Consequently, people call to churn and they’re passed on to the Customer Retention team whose conversion numbers are hit hard. Rather than place the blame on that team for not effectively communicating the reason for the increase, leaders need to consider the impact of that initial decision.

Based on your own company culture, what do you think the reaction would be if you were to raise the question about how customers would feel prior to implementation?

Storytellers everywhere

A simple definition of empathy is ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another’. In our Discovery work, we place a strong emphasis on listening to first hand customer stories and as part of that we uncover how people feel.

Stories are powerful and naturally engage people on an emotional level. We automatically remember feelings in our subconscious more than we remember actions and words. Furthermore, people share stories, sometimes many times over.

We’ve known stakeholders to share the same few stories multiple times with other staff right across a business – especially if they’ve interviewed customers themselves! It’s a clear sign that, they too, know how powerful these can be. People engage. People listen intently. People feel something as a response and that’s what we want.

Permission to ask about feelings

To encourage staff across the business to raise conversations/objections, by asking tough questions about how customers will feel as a result of a new initiative, comes from them feeling confident it’s ok to do so. That confidence is heavily influenced by culture, coming from the business leaders.

Creating a true connection and delivering meaningful and impactful customer experiences is not an unsurmountable task if the right steps (and people) are put in place.