The concept of ’emotional outcomes’ is one we use extensively in our customer experience management strategy and design work.
Why? They help organizations think beyond customers’ rational needs or wants to consider how they want to feel along their journey. By doing this, we can explore the role of the brand from a functional and emotional perspective.
Defining emotional outcomes is critical for customer experience managers to do in their roles whenever a decision is imminent or a new direction is needed.
A case study
Even though I had known for months about a paper I needed to submit, I procrastinated on the task as many people do. I showed all the classic signs: I wrote down ideas, quickly scrapped said ideas, changed topics, and even left attempted first drafts on my desktop, hoping that someone else would finish them.
As time progressed and the deadline neared, I realized that beyond the article’s subject, I had to define my desired emotional outcomes to help complete the assignment.
For example, my goals were to produce an article that was:
- Delivered on-time
- Able to teach the reader something new
After determining my goals, I defined how I wanted the work to make me feel. I came up with this:
“I am surprised and delighted by how quick and easy it was to write this article. I felt in control of the process and am empowered to write even more articles in the future.”
Let’s dissect this for those unfamiliar with desired emotional outcomes and their role in the customer experience.
It is essential to distinguish between what customers want to do or achieve – their functional goals – and how they want to feel – their desired emotional outcomes.
Emotional outcomes use terms that represent feelings rather than actions or results. They are typically related to longer-term desires that are often linked to the attitudes and mindsets of a specific type of customer and are written in the first person; that way, you feel like you are stepping into the customer’s shoes.
The why and how of defining emotional outcomes
- Motivation: Ticking off things you’ve achieved can be inspiring, but the idea of feeling a certain way due to doing so is a much better motivator than just getting things done. For example, I wanted to feel empowered to write more articles in the future. By framing the task as a way to be empowered, it changed how I think about the exercise, changing it from a chore to a learning process.
- Differentiation: Helping people feel a certain way is a much more powerful way of differentiating a brand or person than just providing them with functional value (i.e., I’ll remember how you made me feel more than what you did). For example, stating that I wanted to feel surprised and delighted by how quickly and easily I found writing the article made me strive for something that I had always wanted but never thought was attainable.
- Focus: Trying to facilitate a fantastic customer experience at every stage of their journey is often too big a task for any organization or person. Focusing on the emotional outcomes that a brand has the best opportunity of helping them realize can be a good way of looking at how to prioritize effort. For example, stating that I wanted to feel in control allowed me to focus on the process rather than the deliverable.
How can an organization define and use emotional outcomes for its customers?
The beauty of applying ‘desired emotional outcomes’ to everyday tasks is that you are defining emotions that instinctively make sense to you as an individual. But how does an organization determine how its customers want to feel due to their encounters with a brand?
- Research: Unsurprisingly, insights from research activities lie at the heart of understanding how customers want to feel due to their encounters and interactions with a brand. Uncovering existing customer pain points and their desires for a specific type of experience – the “why” – is always the best place to start. Often misinterpreted in the world of customer experience by concentrating too early on research or testing that only explores what they want to do.
- Collaboration: For most organizations, the definition of an action related to desired customer outcomes should not only be preserving the brand, design, or customer experience operations. Speak to your customer care team to find out what customers are complaining about and listen carefully to the tone of what they say or do across multiple channels and touchpoints. Work with other functions, like your legal department, to get them involved in defining how they, through their work, can help customers feel a certain way. It helps get beyond the “We’re just not allowed to do that” conversation.
- Vision: There is always a risk that organizations, whether intentional or not, end up defining ‘desired customer outcomes’ burdened by existing organizational restraints, processes, systems, and ways of viewing the customer. To be effective, ‘desired customer outcomes’ need to be visionary and all-encompassing. Use them to challenge norms, think about the intricate relationship between online and physical interactions (i.e., genuinely omnichannel), and get inspiration or even copy and adapt from how other industries make their customers feel a certain way.
Aligning thinking with desired emotional outcomes allows individuals, and organizations, to do the necessary work to understand their customers and meet them where they are. With customer experience at the top of the list for today’s customers, brands can win by shifting their mindset. At Globant, we recognize and embrace the notion of desired emotional outcomes when designing unique customer experiences.