Engaging customers – emotionally?

 The latest Gallup Business Journal's lead article based on recent research in the field suggests that senior executives are "leaving money on the table". The primary reason per Gallup is that "companies measure employee and customer satisfaction without much to show for it. That's because their surveys — whether one magic question for customers or 100-plus-item monstrosities for employees — often focus on the rational and exclude the emotional." The productivity and profits oriented journal terms the rewards to be derived from a better focus on the emotional aspect of customer interaction as an""engagement premium" or, essentially, profits that are to be had were customers to be engaged emotionally.

Gallup's conclusions derive from an assignment for a large financial services firm where employee and consumer engagement was surveyed with a view to integrating them; finding that doing so "amplifies their revenue-producing results by aligning an engaged workforce with customers' emotional needs. The surveys used test and control groups with the former getting the benefits of best practices developed by Gallup and the latter receving no intevention.

Gallup's results shown below in terms of employee and customer engagement clearly warrant the "premium" label.

The firm termed the results excellent if predictable as "the test group realized an 83% increase in employee engagement versus a 19% increase in the control group." Similarly, for customer engagement,   the test group achieved a 28% increase versus a 5% increase in the control group. The performance management giant's journal goes on to offer 3 tips for companies looking to increase the engagement premium beginning with using the right survey – not too many questions nor too few. Secondly, keep the issues local and not let top managers make "assumptions about what drives emotional connections with customers from one location's results."  Lastly, they suggest holding managers " accountable and coach them on emotional engagement" with the really successful companies going so far as to appoint "engagement champions".

Emotional engagement at the technological level also seems to be in news with Affectiva, an MIT Media lab startup that is looking for ways to measure emotional responses from online users by tracking their faces announced that they had secured $12 million in Series C financing. One of the company's products Affdex reads "emotional states such as liking and attention from facial expressions using a webcam… to give marketers faster, more accurate insight into consumer response to brands and media."  The possibilities for brands across industries looking to gauge their customers' emotional engagement appear limitless.


Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.