Have you ever thought about going to the doctor and questioned, even momentarily, “Hmm, I wonder if my insurance will cover this?” Or have you ever received a medical bill that was higher than expected? If so, you know these situations don’t elicit a great feeling — and you’re not alone.
The fear of not being covered or the disappointing surprise of finding out you owe more than expected are all-too-common and unpleasant feelings that customers face when it comes to dealing with health insurance companies.
We used Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) Consumer Perspective Online Community to understand specifically what consumers feel when there is lack of clarity surrounding policy coverage details. They say:
But the key question you are probably asking yourself is, “Do these negative emotional experiences matter — do they affect the bottom line?” We find that the answer is a resounding “Yes.” Lack of clarity or fear of not being covered impacts the overall emotion a customer has about their health insurance provider, which in turn significantly impacts their likelihood to recommend their health insurer to others.
If Thursday morning’s controversial tweet from McDonald’s is any indication, brands are no longer safe. I’m not just talking about the threat of a data breach or hack — I’m talking about the threat of consumers who force brands to expose their ethics and beliefs or remain at the mercy of consumer perception and interpretation in a polarized environment. As we’ve seen with other examples of ubiquitous and once universally loved brands like Kellogg’s and L.L. Bean, consumers increasingly judge companies on the basis of their values — and while customers are skeptical of firms that stay silent, they open their wallets for those that champion appealing causes.
Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reveals that this is hardly a passing cloud; customers are becoming more aware of — and sensitive to — social issues overall. For instance, more consumers regularly follow politics, read about science, and identify as being environmentally conscious today than in 2014:
I love watching the annual Academy Awards — not only for the fashion show and blunders exposed on live TV but also to learn about how content resonates with audiences today and how cinema is evolving. In a world where people frequently face information overload and crave smaller bites (and bytes) of content, I’ve often wondered, what is the fate of the full-length film?
Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reveals a curious story: Rather than reaching any type of saturation point, US consumers’ media appetite is growing rapidly: 93% of online adults frequently watch video today, more than 10 percentage points higher than two years ago. And their often-criticized waning attention span is not deterring consumers from sitting through full-length films; in fact, movie viewership is on the rise. However, our data shows that the viewing experience is changing: Movie watching is getting more personal as consumers increasingly turn to their home devices instead of going to the movie theater.
The dust is settling after last week’s exciting Super Bowl. Emotions certainly ran high for those watching the game. Here at Forrester, we were also interested in the longer-term sentiment about the ads that aired during the show. So we reached out to consumers again after a week to capture consumers’ reactions to the Super Bowl ads, to ask them which they liked most, and to ask which made a lasting impression.
As my colleague Jim Nail pointed out in a blog post , this year’s ads did not always resonate positively (if at all) with audiences. That said, our ConsumerVoices market research online community members were most likely to mention 84 Lumber, Audi, and Anheuser-Busch/Budweiser as memorable ads that influenced their opinions of the respective companies.
In the case of 84 Lumber’s and Anheuser-Busch’s focus on immigration, sentiment was sharply split. Quite a few consumers were further turned off when 84 Lumber’s CEO declared that the ad was not intended to be pro-immigration, adding more confusion to consumers’ perception of the brand and its values. On the other hand, Audi’s ad addressing gender equality in pay sparked a different controversy. Although Audi is an aspirational luxury brand, the message was seen as bold and received in good faith, producing a more positive sentiment overall.
Happy Valentine’s Day! You know the feeling of being in love: You want to stay with your significant other forever, love them more each day, and tell everyone how great they are. Your customers know it, too! Many companies have begun tracking how their customers feel as part of their CX measurement program. In the CX Index™, we too track how customers felt during their most recent interaction with a brand.
What’s Love Got To Do With It?
We find that customers who give high scores on Emotion are more likely stay with the brand, spend more on products or services, and tell others how much they love the brand. And just like in relationships, there’s a big difference once your customers fall in “love” – customers in the CX Index who rate the brand a perfect seven out of seven on Emotion, or “love” the brand, say they are 18% to 40% more likely to enrich their relationship with the brand. For brands in all industries, this means that there is business benefit to helping your customers fall in love with you (whether via greater revenue, lower churn, or both).
Let’s Talk About Love
Brands benefit from higher customer advocacy loyalty when customers love them -- but how can brands benefit if they don’t know what love is? Forrester analyzed the specific emotions felt by customers during their most recent interactions with brands in the CX Index.
● Baby, don’t hurt me. Brands whose customers score them high on Emotion almost never make customers feel negative emotions like frustrated, angry, or anxious.
Happy 2017! Settling in to the New Year often renews hope and excitement for the future, and rekindles anticipation for the brands, products, and experiences on the horizon. This year, it’s hard to think about imminent innovations without considering a modern imperative that is rapidly moving to the forefront of conversation: customer empathy.
We are barely three weeks into 2017 and already the cry for customer empathy – and brands’ responses to it – are popping up frequently. At the Consumer Electronics Show, the “insanely cute” Kuri personal robot stole consumers’ hearts, and took the notion of “tech love” to a whole other level. The progression of Artificial Intelligence is sparking public debate about the role of compassion in human connection. And people find themselves seeking meaning, purpose, and understanding over happiness.
The need for empathy affects how customers evaluate brands too: Consumers increasingly prefer companies that resonate with shoppers’ personal values. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® social listening data shows that consumer buzz about company values is on the rise:
The holidays have a way of bringing people together in more ways than one – and every holiday season I’m reminded of just how universal the power of human emotion is. Regardless of lifestyle, background, and world view, people everywhere are truly emotional beings, moved by fundamental feelings of joy and sadness, hope and fear, love and loss. And anyone who has observed frantic shoppers careening through store aisles or the unbearable anticipation of children on Christmas morning can see that, at this time of year, emotions are at their peak.
Advertisers know holiday shopper emotions better than anyone; they have perfected the art of tugging at heart strings or prompting tears to spur a purchase. But as consumers wear their hearts on their sleeve, retailers broadly must be in tune with – and responsive to – customer sentiments. For example, when passionate shoppers turn to social channels, retailers mustn’t dismiss their cheering or venting. In fact, Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) data shows that consumers often experience their most positive brand interactions on social media – and remember them more favorably than engagements on websites, over email, through phone conversations, and even in person:
The fact that human beings make affinity and spend decisions based in large part on emotion is not new news. It is the underlying logic of advertising – heartstrings are the early sparks of revenue. But there is a reason that most companies have not baked emotion into experience design and into the day-to-day engagement with customers. It's hard to do.
Emotions are situational, dynamic, and hard to read. Yet the gulf between the science of emotion and the business of emotion is closing, creating a set of new tools to convert great experiences into sustained growth.
Last week during an online event, I brought together thought leaders, Anjali Lai, Harley Manning, and Roxie Strohmenger, to translate the science of emotion to the pragmatic business application of emotion. If you were unable to watch it live, here is the replay – and for good measure, here are key takeaways from our discussion:
Emotion is the next step in getting to know your customer.
The customer is now the center of the universe, and to win in this market, companies need to know – really know – their customer. Beyond satisfaction, advocacy, and journeys, companies must understand what makes customers tick and how to influence affinity and spend. Emotion is not the next thing "just because"; it gets to the heart and soul of operating in a customer-led market.
If you follow my blog regularly, you already know that I love to travel. And while I’ve had my fair share of travel hiccups (missed flight connections, last-minute assignments to the dreaded middle seat, lost luggage – you name it), I’ve always glossed over these snafus and accepted the fact that traveling inevitably comes with a few small challenges.
Until this year, when I hit executive traveler status on a major airline thanks to the loyalty points I amassed during my trips. Suddenly, my tolerable travel experiences became overwhelmingly enjoyable ones, and I quickly came to love (a word I don’t use loosely!) flying with this airline because of the VIP treatment. My reaction isn’t unique. In fact, it’s characteristic of my generation: Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that Millennials highly value loyalty programs that reward customers with enhanced customer service and special status, as Millennials cherish this sense of validation and exclusivity.
Specifically, our data shows that the loyalty program reward tactics that work for middle-aged and older consumers are not enough to satisfy Millennials. While customers of every generation want discounts, Millennials also expect loyalty programs to offer a premium customer experience. And what’s more, younger consumers want the flexibility of applying loyalty points to a variety of benefits – from travel upgrades to digital media content to charitable donations – while their older counterparts are happy using their points to get cash back.
In this post, I’ll explore another big finding from our research: The way an experience makes customers feel has a bigger influence on their loyalty to a brand than the effectiveness or ease of the experience.
CX professionals often think that getting emotion right is simple: Make your customers happy, not angry. However, we find that anger and happiness do not have a very strong influence on customer loyalty. What does?
· Making customers feel appreciated, confident, and respected drives loyalty. On average across the industries, if you make customers feel appreciated, for example, we see that 80% of them will advocate for the brand, 70% will stay with the brand, and 68% will increase their spending with the brand. In stark contrast, only 2% will advocate, 13% will stay, and 8% will increase their spending with the brand when they don't feel appreciated.