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Beyond Satisfaction: How Emotional Connections Fuel Customer Value

Updated: Jun 13, 2023



In the realm of customer experience, businesses are extensively investing in strategies to optimize every facet of a customer's interaction with their brand, products, services, and promotions. This process encompasses both offline and online platforms. However, many companies lack a comprehensive, operational, value-creating goal that drives the entirety of the customer journey. There is a focus on enhancing customer satisfaction at every step of the journey, but the Harvard Business Review (HBR) argues that emotional connection is a far more effective and meaningful strategy for maximizing customer value.


According to the HBR, research involving numerous brands across various categories suggests that establishing an emotional connection with customers - tapping into their fundamental motivations and meeting their profound, often unstated emotional needs - is more effective than simply striving for customer satisfaction. Such emotional motivators can include the desire to belong, succeed, or feel secure. By appealing to these, businesses can foster stronger, more valuable connections with their customer base.


HBR presents 10 high-impact emotional motivators that significantly affect customer value:

  1. Encouraging customers to stand out from the crowd and feel unique

  2. Instilling confidence in the future

  3. Facilitating a sense of well-being

  4. Fostering a sense of freedom

  5. Providing a sense of thrill and excitement

  6. Helping customers feel a sense of belonging

  7. Assisting customers in protecting the environment

  8. Allowing customers to be the person they aspire to be

  9. Ensuring customers feel secure

  10. Helping customers succeed in life

Emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers on a lifetime value basis. These customers engage more with your brand, purchasing more products and services, visiting more often, paying more heed to your communications, and exhibiting less price sensitivity. They are also more likely to recommend your brand to others.


The HBR points out that customer experience is a vital driver of emotional connection. Customers who have an omnichannel experience are generally more emotionally connected and consistently more profitable. By utilizing sophisticated big data analytical techniques, businesses can optimize their customer experience investments, driving increased emotional connection and yielding greater customer value and financial returns.


In practice, this approach has shown significant results. For instance, a brokerage and investments firm identified its customers' key emotional motivators and related them to the customer experience. The firm found that emotional connection resulted in customers six times more likely to consolidate assets than those who were merely highly satisfied.


Similarly, a major apparel retailer discovered that customers' key emotional motivators were their desire to feel a sense of belonging, thrill, and freedom. By implementing marketing programs designed specifically to address these motivators, the retailer saw increased customer retention, advocacy, and sales growth.


Shaping a customer experience by precisely identifying the emotional connections you're trying to build and investing in the touch points that drive these connections is a powerful strategy to increase customer value. Emotional connection as the overarching goal - the "true north" of the customer experience - can guide investments, minimize risk, and maximize return on investment decisions, ultimately reaping significant financial rewards. Read more here

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