Managing Customer Emotions

Guest Blog by Colin Shaw – Founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy

Your customers do not choose you based on the experience you provide. Instead, customers choose you because of the experience they remember you provide. This is a small but vital difference. Therefore, managing what your customers remember is imperative for organisations today. Moreover, it also means contact centre employees should understand how they can positively help the memory-making process for customers.

This concept isn’t something I came up with but instead is based on science. Nobel-Prize-winning economist Professor Daniel Kahneman did a TED talk about the Experiencing Self vs. the Remembering Self. Kahneman explains we have two selves:

  • The Experiencing Self, which lives in the present
  • The Remembering Self, which recalls the past. The Remembering Self also keeps score about what happened and chooses between experiences.

Kahneman also explains how customers’ memories form with the Peak-End Rule, a psychological shortcut for how the Remembering Self recounts and judges experiences. The Peak-End rule states that people remember an experience’s strongest emotion (the Peak) and its concluding emotion (the End). These emotions could be positive or negative.

Creating The Best Possible Memory for the Remembering Self

When applying these concepts to a customer experience organisations should understand how to positively define, engineer, and manage the memory of their customers. In a contact centre, organisations should understand:

  • What is the Peak emotion of the call?
  • How does it End?

Organisations should understand what emotions they are evoking today and which they want to evoke tomorrow. Every organisation has what we call an ‘emotional signature’, a level of emotional engagement its customer experience creates with its customers. But which emotions should you try and evoke in your customers? The answer is the ones which drive value (£). Back in 2005 we conducted research with London Business School to identify the 20 emotions that drive or destroy value.

What emotions are you are currently evoking at the Peak and End of your experience?

If you don’t know, you should find out. It is then vital that the organisation defines the emotions that drive most value for them, design them into their experience and train contact centre employees to manage these. If that starting emotion is negative, e.g., the customer is angry entering the call, you want them to leave feeling the emotions that drive most value for you. To do this you need to train your people.

Endings are even more important than the Peak. How you end the call might determine the entire memory the Remembering Self accesses down the road. For many organisations, there is often room for improvement here.

Most contact centres try to get people off the call to move to the next one as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this operationally-focused strategy produces poor outcomes for the end of the call. I would instead advocate for a customer-focused approach that determines whether you have dealt with the customers’ needs and help them with anything additional as a follow-up.

What Should You Do With This?

The Peak-End Rule is a critical element to your customer call management strategy with the power to make or break the formation of the memory. It would be best if the contact centre agent understood this concept and could identify the call’s peak emotion and recognize the role they play in how the call ends.

Moreover, the organisation’s measures to determine the call centre employee’s job performance can affect this outcome, too.  So, instead of using call handling times that lead to hustling the customer off the call prematurely, use a customer-focused measure like customer satisfaction or Net Promoter Score®[i].

Perhaps most importantly, the organisation should analyse the details of call’s ending. Everything from the tone of voice to the language used affects the emotional effect of the call that forms the Remembering Self’s memory. These details should be defined and deliberate—and not left to chance.

The question becomes, what emotion is your organisation’s call centre experience evoking today and what emotions drive most value for you? If you don’t know the answer you should!

[i] Net Promoter®, NPS®, NPS Prism®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter Score℠ and Net Promoter System℠ are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

About Colin Shaw

Colin is an original pioneer of ‘Customer Experience’. He has been recognised by LinkedIn as one of the ‘World’s Top 150 Business Influencers’ where he has 290,000 followers. As the Founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy LLC his customer experience consulting company has been recognised by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading management consultancies for the last three years in a row.  Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 5% of all podcasts globally by Buzzsprout. Awards Magazine ranked the #1 CX influencer to follow in 2021, out of 50 other candidates.

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