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Turning Moments into Memories: Emotional Triggers & Brand Loyalty

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Turning Moments into Memories: Emotional Triggers & Brand Loyalty

This past week we attended the Kantar TNS event Catch me If You Can. Kantar TNS along with Qualtrics and Strativity invited us to learn about “How emotional triggers lead to improving customer experience and increasing authentic loyalty.” Hosted at the Waterfront Restaurant on the Embarcadero, we snacked on bite-sized crab cakes and wonton crisps topped with tuna tartare before sitting down to a three part presentation. While the actual presentation didn’t last much longer than an hour, it left us thinking about more than just the emotional triggers a brand hopes to create, but the triggers that can be unintentionally incorporated into experiences as well.

To start, here’s a recap of the presentation, it was structured around three main points:

1 – Memories influence brand loyalty and behavior, as this is often the first information customers access before deciding whether to revisit a brand experience. As a result, measuring a customer’s memory of an experience in addition to in-the-moment reactions was promoted.

2 – Customers remember experiences that they have an emotional response to. Kantar TNS suggests that regardless of satisfaction with the product or service, customers who recall a positive emotion are more likely to engage with the brand in the future than those who had a similar experience but do not recall any emotional response. In order to measure this emotional response, customers’ feedback is placed into one of the following three emotion categories: Enchanted, Unaffected, and Disenchanted.

3 – Some touch points are more likely to elicit an emotional response than others. When investing time and money in enchanting experiences, focus on the touch points in the customer journey that have a greater potential for emotional responses.

We agree, emotional responses influence a customers’ memory and decisions. Kantar TNS uses a familiar behavioral economics theory to help explain why this occurs. The theory is called the Peak End Rule which states that a customer’s memory is influenced by two emotional reactions throughout their journey. The Peak End Rule can be explained using a classic plot sequence where the peak emotional response occurs at the height of the conflict and the end emotional trigger is the resolution of this conflict. These two points tend to elicit the largest emotional response during a plot sequence and thus are more memorable. Kantar TNS describes this Peak End Rule occurring at a macro scale at specific touch points during the customer journey.

While the presentation by Kantar TNS did not go into detail about which touchpoints carry the most potential for emotional hooks, we know from experience that emotions run high in the digital world. Digital touch points may not seem as obvious of an emotional trigger as a face-to-face customer experience, but throughout our research we have seen customers have strong emotional reactions to different aspects of websites, apps, and other online interactions. In some cases, it might be emotionally charged imagery on the site, but surprisingly it can also be what others would consider the straightforward parts of a customer experience. The browsing process, filling out a form, going through a checkout, all of these aspects have potential for emotional triggers due to what one might call emotional baggage.

Conducting user research can help us understand what emotional baggage users may be bringing into an experience.

For example, when doing research in the financial services industry, we have seen customers revert to feelings of anxiety and fear due to past experiences and concerns with identity theft. While the goal of this research was to simply test the application process for an online quote, we learned that even here the nuances of the design can trigger an emotional response. Minor confusion about the steps of the process, too much fine print, and other design elements were turning our users into those that would fall under ‘disenchanted’. In this example, we were able to identify negative emotions users’ brought into their website experience and help the design team understand which elements of the design were impacting perceptions of security on the site.

In conclusion, we appreciate the food for thought (and food) the event provided.  If you are interested in learning more about how your customer experience is impacting users’ emotions and brand loyalty, consider usability testing, in-depth interviews, or one of our other qualitative research methods.