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My last blog posting was about human connection (the evolution of connection and the subsequent step-changes in consumerism and commerce > read here if you feel left out). It focused on the impact of technology on human connection and commerce and outlined how AI heralded our arrival at Connection 3.0, Absolute Connection.

Here I want to deal with the human side of getting consumer connections right. Technology enables so much, but ultimately you need the creative spark of a human to truly connect.

Silicon or Soul?

I am often asked what is most important in building a brand or business. Is it systems and software, the AI data led decision-making & personalisation strategies or is it the human touch, the emotional connection, the smile? There is no easy answer obviously, but connecting with a consumer in a way that touches them, that truly emotively engages them, is the way to build a brand advocate.

The Peer-to-Peer Economy, with its community and reviews, dictates so much of a brands success today. Giving your customer a reason to tell your brand story is paramount, and so ‘story-telling’ has become a key objective for any business. How do we get our consumers to tell our story for us? How do we build loyal and tribal brand fans? Well the answer is to engage them emotionally.

Time to Get Emotional

Emotions are mad things. We have all made bad decisions, which later on reflection, we can see were driven by emotions we either misunderstood or couldn’t control. I remain fascinated by Behavioural Economics and the study of human irrationality; particularly how emotional response can override rational decision making in humans.

The mistake most brands make is they fail to engage their customers emotionally. They fail to reach in and make a difference in their customers lives beyond a straight transaction. Anyone who is interested in human relationships, either personally or in a HR environment, will be familiar with Emotional Intelligence. Anyone setting off on a journey in a new romantic relationship is certainly well advised to see if they are on the same EQ. I think, sadly, some brands have the EQ of a stone.

It’s All About the Feels

So how does one go about developing Brand EQ? That answer is superbly simple. Look to make a difference in people’s lives. Excite your customers. Delight them. Give them more than they expect. Be clever and curious in your marketing communications. Get personal with customers, show you know them, show you care. Get creative in everything you do. Go through your Customer Journey and put every moment under a magnifying glass. What can you do here to make it more engaging? How can we make our customers smile? What can we do to make them feel something?

If our customers feel something, then we are succeeding. Sadly, too often, the only thing customers feel is disappointment or frustration, or maybe brand apathy. These are not the feelings I am proposing you propagate. Brands like IKEA and Virgin have strong EQ, they have it in their DNA.

But I find that a lecture like the above on emotive connection only ever goes so far. While few will argue with anything I have written thus far, similarly, I haven’t made you feel anything either. Which means that you won’t tell this story to yourself later (when writing a brand strategy) or to others. So, to drive this message home, I need you to connect with the message. To feel something. If I can do that, then you will understand.

Can You Feel It?

A few years ago, I came across this video from Samsung. I use it in many of my talks as a great example of what you get when you humanly connect. Watch it. Experience how it feels when we feel connected, when we are emotively engaged in an experience. It is a beautiful thing.

CX should be joyful. Think about how you felt watching that experience from Samsung, and you aren’t even Muharrem, you were just watching him experience it. Emotive experiences are powerful and every brand needs to make it its mission to harness and deliver on EQ.

If your customer isn’t smiling or laughing or crying (in a good way!) you are doing something wrong. Fix that. Work on your brand EQ.

Ken Hughes is now acknowledged as being one of the world’s leading authorities on consumer and shopper behavior, blending his understanding of consumer & cyber psychology, digital anthropology, behavioral economics and retail futurology to explore the needs of the new consumer and predict the changes to come.

This blog is an extract from Ken Hughes new speech ‘The Joy of CX’ focusing on the Customer Experience and the need to embed CX as an organisational philosophy. Read more here

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A blog to  inspire and delight