Having a rich and unified understanding of the voice of the customer through data and insights is important to any brand. But to truly achieve customer loyalty, reach long-term sustainable growth, and lower your customer acquisition costs, you’ll need to connect with their heart. This shift is essential to any brand that wants to ally with buyers on an emotional level. It’s not an easy move from the voice of the customer to the heart of the customer, but the hard work will be worthwhile when you reap greater returns on your marketing efforts.
While we like to think that buying decisions are based on logic and facts, that’s rarely the case. A Forrester and FocusVision study found that the way consumers feel is 1.5 times more likely to influence their decision than anything else.
Marketing experts have long been discussing the voice of the customer, but that’s no longer enough to ensure engagement. Rather, the most powerful thing your brand can do is to be authentic. You need to shift from only looking at customers through data points and instead find out how they feel, revealing big truths about why they buy. It’s a new era in marketing, one that uses emotional marketing to connect with customers.
The way to a consumer’s heart is by building customer trust, which can be elusive in a world where scandals occur every day. Brands certainly make mistakes either in what they say or don’t say. Developing a customer’s trust requires that your brand be transparent and real. To gain trust, you need to understand what motivates your customers to make a decision, and where your brand plays a role in alleviating their pain points. Then leverage that into an honest conversation that takes their emotions into account.
For example, reviews are a critical element that many customers seek when deciding to buy a product. They want to know that somebody just like them found your product or service to be a lifesaver. They expect credibility, and you can establish this with strategies to drive advocacy marketing by your customers.
Image Source: Pexels
You’ve probably already mastered the process of collecting, aggregating and analyzing customer data. You’ve probably invested in technology tools, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to streamline efforts. That data is still important, as it does give you insights into customer preferences. That data analysis can be your foundation for understanding the customer, but emotions aren’t tangible like data. So, how do you capture sentiment?
The short answer is that it’s about uncovering customer truth, which can be achieved by connecting your brand’s story with the customer’s story. You’ll have to look through multiple lenses to uncover this truth.
All the data points in the world won’t provide you with clarity around emotions. Instead, you need to shift to a research strategy that provides context and depth to your data. Let’s dive into some specific examples of how brands can gain this type of customer knowledge.
If you want to know what your customer base is thinking and feeling, ask them! Surveys allow you to clearly see the perspective of the customer. Crafting the right survey may take some effort, as you need to go beyond just basic answers. The key is to ask questions about how they use a product as well as its importance to them. Don’t shy away from asking the hard-hitting questions too – all feedback is good feedback during this process.
For example, if you own a technology company, surveying your customers about what types of technology or software they use will give you qualitative data but not emotion. Inserting questions about how they use that technology is more meaningful. You could ask them if they have different applications and for which processes, as well as how they feel about the pain of each process or the ease of use of the various technologies they may use.
There is never a shortage of studies. Research firms, organizations and fellow marketers are continuously engaged in studying buyers. Find those studies relevant to your industry and customers and seek out the emotional responses.
For example, last year one of my most successful articles was a study on the impact of increased blogging frequency on your company website. I didn’t invest in my own research. I just commented on the various studies that were already available to show the importance of frequency in blogging to my own audience.
Technology can be a great enabler of finding what’s in your customers’ hearts, and it can do so in the moment. There are a variety of technology tools you can insert into the customer experience, whether that be in person or online.
You’ve probably seen or used quick surveys post-sale that ask a question on the likelihood of recommending the brand to another. That provides a baseline of how the customer feels about the brand (most likely as an NPS or net promoter score). However, while you’ve got their attention, why not ask them something more emotional.
You’ll want to be quick with a second or third question because you don’t want the customer to feel it’s a disruption. One idea is to ask a question like, “Use one word to describe how you feel about this product.” Then offer them five to six words from which to choose. While you are selecting the words, you can vary them enough that they align with certain feelings. In just one word, customers can say a lot, providing you with valuable information.
Making the move from the voice of the customer to the heart of the customer is complicated yet necessary. Looking beyond the voice of the customer to find out what’s inside their hearts when it comes to buying or advocating for brands gives you a much more complete picture of why they do what they do. By understanding how your customers feel about your brand, you can become part of their story, and by extension, their life. And when this occurs, your brand becomes trusted and favored.