Exploring the gap between emotions customers feel and the experiences brands are designing.
If you ask customers why they love a brand, they rarely credit the brand’s great martech stack or AI-enabled systems. Chances are customers’ reasons will be emotional, social or functional and will revolve around some personal or human need, like making life easier, more economical or boosting levels of creativity and happiness.
But ask people why they hate a brand, and they will cite frustrating technology, poor systems or service and quality or pricing issues.
There’s often a disconnect between the emotions customers feel and the experiences brands design. Are we designing experiences around technology instead of customer emotions?
No doubt a lot of the conversation about CX has been about technology such as the stack and AI, which do drive personalization (and is what customers want). But ultimately, there is a human at the center of the “customer experience.”
No matter how smart the tech, how efficient the automation and how expansive the scale, these things should help marketers connect and build relationships with customers. So how can we design CX and keep customer emotions — rather than tech, automation or channels — at the center?
Bringing the Brand Alive With Emotion-Led Design
For marketers and CX designers, the gap between customer emotions and technology presents a challenge, especially in that last mile — where customer interaction happens. Let’s call it the moment of truth.
It may feel like technology takes precedence over emotions in that last mile because the entire delivery of the experience hinges on technology. But we know that emotions like empathy, joy, patience — and responses to triggers like colors, words, sounds and tone — bring the brand experience alive for customers.
So the question is how can marketers better align the emotional aspects of brand experience with the technology that powers personalization at the moment of truth?
Consider chatbots and customer care. Often, the language and visuals of chatbots are so generic and unrepresentative of the brand that the emotional connection with the customer is broken — even if the chatbot resolves the customer’s problem.
Using technology to make those interactions faster and smoother is key — but doing so shouldn’t be at the cost of emotional drivers that make the customer feel heard, supported and valued.
As Katie Templin, vice president of user experience strategy at digital CX agency Hero Digital, puts it, “You have to go beyond changing your logo to rainbow once a year.” But the dependence on IT means “smaller details” such as language, colors, design and visuals often get ignored in favor of “just get the @# tech to work!”
Ultimately, CX needs to be delivered at scale and because of that, marketers are still very much constrained by what technology can do. Stories about emotion-powered moments of truth become anecdotal exceptions instead of the norm. The real challenge then is to make elements of emotion an ongoing part of CX delivery.
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Creating More Emotionally Relevant Experiences
While marketers have been quick to adopt low- or no-code tools — especially in the design, UI and UX, content and analytics space — the goal has tended toward automation, simplifying workflows and increasingly, testing and innovating. But no-code also has great potential to help marketers think about customer experience design differently.
Could low-code or no-code tech be the solution to better aligning emotional and functional aspects of CX in the last mile of every interaction? Can it help marketers bring back the emotional connection between brands and customers in each interaction?
Yes, it can, said Ian Reither, chief operating officer at Telnyx, because it can help marketers be more agile and responsive by simplifying content creation, analytics and user interfaces with intuitive, easy-to-use and accessible apps.
Low-code and no-code tech frees high-tech resources for more complex tasks and gives marketers the freedom to focus on experimenting with and creating more engaging, emotionally relevant experiences for customers on the go.
Clues for Constructing Authentic Customer Connections
Paying attention to what drives customers at each of the many touchpoints or moments of truth where “experience” is delivered provides many clues for creating authentic, emotional connections and improving CX outcomes, suggested Templin.
For example, when using chatbots and conversational AI, one of the big moments of truth is when the bot stops being useful and the customer would rather have human help. As Templin said, conversational AI doesn’t end with deploying AI-powered chatbots — that’s just the starting point.
AI can be leveraged much better when the intention is not to replace humans but to better inform when and how to bring in human intervention. With low-code options easily available, marketers can experiment with these handoff moments at a granular level and make interventions that elevate the experience with small but impactful details and keep refining those details to better meet consumer preferences.
Another example is with collecting customer data — a friction point for CX, even with the most loyal customers. In the recent past, we’ve seen several brands leverage low-code consent and preference management platforms to give customers more control and transparency over the process.
But marketers can also consider experimenting with the emotional triggers in that process — colors, words, visuals, UX — without compromising compliance, scale or automation.
Low code can help make data collection a collaborative rather than coercive process, and it can empower marketers to bring customers’ zero-party data and their emotional responses into how personalization and experiences get designed.