Date Added: January 2006
Customers are the lifeblood of most organizations. In ever-increasing competitive markets, maintaining "fully engaged" customers are critical. In order to sustain, repeat, and ideally generate loyal customers, companies need to develop partnerships with customers. These partnerships must create an emotional connection with customers to greatly improve customer satisfaction, so customers become emotionally satisfied.
Satisfied customers are defined as those providing high satisfaction ratings to an organization. Satisfied customers tend to be divided into two groups: customers with an emotional connection and customers without. Customers with an emotional connection to the organization are considered "fully engaged," and provide a 23% premium to the organization's bottom line.1
Recent research has shown that people's decisions are heavily based on emotional factors.1 This explains why customers will pay more for a product or service from a trustworthy organization rather than purchasing that same product for less from an unfamiliar organization. Emotional connections such as trust, loyalty and integrity typically are more meaningful to customers than low-cost.
Of course, enhancing the emotional connection with customers assumes that a relationship is already formed, and needs improving. If there is no partnership with customers, you must develop one. First, customers' needs have to be identified in order for the organization to meet and completely satisfy these needs. By engaging in a Voice of the Customer process, organizations gain a competitive advantage, and are more likely to maintain a partnership with customers.
After listening to the Voice of the Customer and fully understanding and meeting customers' needs, organizations need to then evoke an emotional connection. Customer loyalty and an employee-customer emotional connection become aligned to form emotional satisfaction. While extremely difficult to achieve, there are four key organizational attributes that can assist in achieving emotional satisfaction for customers:1
A large retail bank recently performed research on emotionally satisfied customers. It compared emotionally satisfied customers to those that were merely considered satisfied. Customers with an emotional connection to the bank proved to be more loyal than those without an emotional tie. Emotionally satisfied customers increased their spending by 67% over 12 months versus only 8% by those that were not emotionally satisfied.1
By aligning the Voice of the Customer with the emotional connection attributes, an organization is in a better position to completely satisfy customers. These processes can benefit any organization as emotionally satisfied customers and financial performance are highly correlated.1
1 Fleming, John, H., Coffman, Curt, Harter, James K. "Manage Your Human Sigma." Harvard Business Review. July-August 2005: 107-114.