For over 500 years, scholars and art historians have debated whether or not the woman in the Mona Lisa is smiling. Detailed analysis suggests that from certain angles and distances, the lady appears to be smiling; from others, the smile appears to have vanished—an effect achieved by using a combination of colour and shading to create an optical illusion around her mouth.

If only every company analysed its customers’ feedback—and emotions—with such fervour.

When companies focus on scores alone they fail to understand and bring context to the emotions and inherent richness expressed by their customers. Consider this: If art connoisseurs evaluated paintings the way many Customer Experience (CX) analysts evaluate results, they would note that the Mona Lisa measures two-and-a-half feet by one-and-three-quarter feet, was painted using oil by Leonardo da Vinci in 1503, and depicts a woman—Lisa Gherardini. There would be no discussion about her smile.

Yet, brands routinely make business decisions based on information not much more nuanced than this. They regularly overlook the emotions—joy, pain, or disgust, to name a few—communicated by customers in “human” data from open-ended comments, social reviews, etc.—hiding behind excuses such as “it’s too difficult to measure.”

With consumers so willing to tell companies how they feel—and why—why do many brands miss the mark so badly when it comes to customer experience?

InMoment’s annual CX Trends Report delved into how both consumers and CX practitioners view the role of emotion in customer experiences and brand loyalty. We gave respondents a list of emotions and asked them to select which one they associated most strongly with great customer experiences. The overwhelming response? Satisfied. We also asked customers which emotion they associated with the brands they are loyal to. The answer, yet again, was satisfied.

So let’s get this straight: Can the relatively mild emotion of satisfied (not stronger emotions, like delighted or entertained) not only be used to describe great experiences, but also drive customers toward brand loyalty? Maybe satisfied is good enough—great, even—and customers don’t need to feel anything more to become loyal.

We then asked consumers to describe, in detail, the why behind their emotions—to give us a qualitative view into their stated satisfaction (or whichever emotion they chose). Within this unstructured, human data, we found a layered and infinitely more valuable story. Customers are very happy and feel bonded to brands when their expectations are consistently met. And those expectations are quite basic. Here’s one example from a Danish consumer: “They had what I was looking for.”

Any CX analysis that ends with the quantitative data is missing important details—the emotional context—as well as the why of a customer’s experience. Only by including the human, unstructured data will analysts surface a much deeper intelligence—because just like the Mona Lisa, there’s so much more meaning than a quantitative description can ever capture.

 

By Spencer Morris, senior vice president of data science at InMoment


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