Create value and win customers through designing experiences that activate emotions

Author: Rebecca Wilson, Director of Human Experience

Customer experience is how customers perceive their interactions with an organisation. It’s the brand personified; the brand brought to life for the customer. During Sprout’s special edition Mood of Australia COVID-19 study, we have learnt about how Australians are feeling and the emotional triggers that are driving their behaviour and decision making. These have direct implications for how organisations manage and evolve their customer experiences to continually drive value and ultimately survive.

We’ve understood for some years now how important emotion is to the delivery of brand and customer experiences…and, yet it seems to be an area many companies don’t consistently or successfully land.

And now we’re pretty sure we know why.

We need to activate against the motivational drivers and not against feelings. Feelings are fleeting and change over time, while motivational drivers are more stable and proven to be what drives behaviour and decision making.

Sprout’s research has revealed that above all else, consumers are driven to feel empowered and be part of something. They are seeking to feel less trapped and to have more control over their lives and they want to feel included and not isolated.

In our recent webinar on the topic, I highlighted American Express’s recent pivot away from advertising and brand expenditure to an investment in customer service and digital experiences that make their customers empowered to make a difference. There are several other examples I’ve seen recently that demonstrate well considered and executed experiences that not only deliver on customers’ motivational needs but reinforce the brand of the organisation providing them.

When put under the pressure of closing studios and cancelling in-person sessions, Vision Personal Training, an Australian franchised network of fitness studios, re-examined its reason for existing – its WHY in author Simon Senik’s “Golden Circle” model of success. While not able to provide in-person client experiences, they could still “build communities transforming people’s lives” via digital connections. As their CEO Andrew Simmons recently explained, “their people are their service”. The experience was redesigned, delivered via a different channel, empowering their customers to continue to look after their health and well-being as part of a strong community.

Designing around emotional needs is not just the territory of larger corporate brands. Melbourne high-end destination restaurant, Attica, went from creating $310 degustation menus for international foodies to driving around Melbourne delivering takeaway lasagnas.

While originally driven by the need for financial survival, this recreation of the experience has remained rooted in the original purpose of Head Chef and Owner Ben Shewry’s brand. He has not compromised standards or moved from his core philosophy of deep care for his customers, staff and community. The message on the website brings a smile to my face – it’s rooted in empowerment, belonging and keen sense of achievement.

Attica has not only managed to survive, they’ve put on extra staff to meet demand!

When we understand emotional needs and motivations, we unlock a rich supply of opportunity to manage experiences in a way that adds real value. The memories created by organisations through experiences their customers have are critical to their longevity and even survival through this seemingly never-ending situation.

Written by Rebecca Wilson, Director of Human Experience