Brands are competing on emotional connection, and using AI to get there

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30-second summary:

  • HBR finds that emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as “highly satisfied” customers.
  • While a lot of digital channels might provide decent “customer satisfaction” scores in terms of speed of service, they provide nothing in terms of emotional connection.
  • Digital disruption has ripped the human experience from customer service, and that trend is only set to continue.
  • To this day, nothing can replace the warmth of human-to-human interaction when it comes to emotional connection – but AI is getting us closer.

Forget customer satisfaction. Forget CSAT and other metrics that measure customer satisfaction. Emotional connection, we now know, is the most valuable way to measure how your customers feel about you brand – and the most important driver business leaders are focusing on to improve customer loyalty, retention and lifetime value.

Harvard Business Review finds that emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as “highly satisfied” customers.

Meanwhile, Capgemini’s research shows when a brand has built and nurtured that emotional connection, 70% of customers will double the amount they spend with the company.

And yet, something feels off.

Can you remember the last time a brand created an emotional connection with you, and what they did to leave that lasting impression?

It probably wasn’t when you last bought your groceries through self-checkout; it’s unlikely to be when you found and filled out a loan application online; and it surely wasn’t when you tried desperately to find the path of least resistance/typing effort when “talking” to a chatbot.

The noise has been turned up, and brands are struggling to stand out.

So while all of these digital channels might provide decent “customer satisfaction” scores in terms of speed of service, they provide nothing in terms of emotional connection.

emotional connection

The human touch

In truth, it’s likely to be a human interaction that last caused an emotional connection between you and a brand.

But digital disruption has ripped the human experience from customer service, and that trend is only set to continue.

The use of chatbots alone is expected to increase 136% by the end of 2021.

People, meanwhile, are natural experts at building emotional connection with each other (well, most people); their only downside is they aren’t cheap and scalable to a business.

To this day, nothing can replace the warmth of human-to-human interaction when it comes to emotional connection – but AI is getting us closer.

Just look at AI-powered digital humans, who are powering up the natural language processing (NLP) that drives chatbots but giving them a realistic human face and voice through which they can communicate more naturally, and at scale.

As 2020 begins, it’ll be illuminating which business leaders will build real, valuable emotional connection with customers – who will get ahead by doing so and how they’ll go about it.

But it’ll be obvious to anyone who’s ever had “service with a smile” that more speedy tech, more “satisfaction” metrics, and more chatbots simply won’t be the answer.

Danny Tomsett is the Founder and CEO of UneeQ, a global creator of enterprise-grade digital humans.



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