Level up your customer experience with emotional intelligence

The effects of this year’s events will be felt for years to come, impacting everything from personal relationships to how customers evaluate and engage with brands. More than ever, the spotlight is shining on brand values: how brands invest in local communities and treat their employees during COVID-19, their stance on high-visibility social issues, and their overall digital customer experience.

It’s crucial that brands get it right. According to Wunderman research, 89% of people are loyal to brands that share their values. Highlighting these values in communications requires a degree of transparency, humility, and authenticity that only brands with emotional intelligence (EI) in their DNA can execute.

While we are in this state of unpredictability, customers expect – or, dare I say, demand – brands to be in lockstep with what’s happening in the world and to quickly and purposefully adapt their communications to reflect that sentiment. A brand’s ability to be nimble and adapt its messaging with a tone that demonstrates empathy is a key ingredient for emotionally intelligent communications.

As we look to 2021, brands are reassessing what’s required to genuinely connect with their customers and how personalization – a key method for conveying relevance, emotion, and empathy – can complement a brand’s customer experience.

Start with a strong data foundation

Your customers don’t think in terms of channels and touchpoints. Whether they visit your site, open an email, or view your Instagram page, they expect a tailored experience. According to a consumer survey by Adobe, 67% of respondents said it’s important for brands to automatically adjust content based on their current context. Delivering that degree of personalization requires data that takes into account the individual, the circumstance, and the content to power a deeply meaningful, impactful, and emotive experience.

Your strategy should pinpoint data elements that can inform and guide your messaging, along with an infrastructure that captures customers’ activities across channels and devices, and synthesizes them into one customer data profile (CDP). This means aligning interactional, experiential, operational, and transactional data for a single view of your customer. Consolidating your internal data systems is no simple task, but having a unified data level allows you to seamlessly engage with each customer across touchpoints and scale emotionally intelligent communications across the overall customer experience.

Consider data-driven video as a way to deliver personalization

Are you wondering, “Why video?” According to Cisco, over 80% of all digital time spent is expected to be on video by 2024 – so why not video? Think of video as a series of topics broken into modular, standalone scenes (like building blocks). When you apply data to drive the message, every element is dynamic – from on-screen text, images, and video to narration, music, and even the order in which scenes are sequenced.

This approach to video allows you to deliver a unique experience for each of your customers and to address their needs at critical moments in the customer experience, such as a purchase, onboarding, billing, or a moment of confusion. This is when video can quickly elevate, simplify, and enrich the experience. Plus, it’s a powerful strategy to help accelerate goals like increasing customer satisfaction (CSAT), reducing churn, and decreasing service-related calls.

Video can have a wide range of applications across the customer experience based on your goals, the channel, and the level of data at your disposal. For high-touch topics that require educating your target market along various touchpoints along the customer journey, it’s best to deliver an experience with a high degree of personalization powered by data.

For example, we worked with T.Rowe Price on a video program for 529 college plan holders that resulted in a 552 percent dollar increase in automatic monthly contributions, with video viewers being 194 percent more likely to set up automatic contributions. Delivered in the customer portal, the video-powered experience is driven by real-time data elements such as a person’s account balance, average contribution amount, frequency, and beneficiary age. It’s used to educate the viewer on their investment and recommend contribution increases to achieve savings goals.

Another strategy is to help viewers navigate through a process at their own speed by choosing which topic is most relevant to them. Such was the case for an interactive, video-powered experience we developed for Comcast to help it customers self-install their cable. This experience educates customers on their new service features and available upgrades while guiding them through their cable setup at their own pace, thereby reducing call center volume and increasing successful activations. Real-time data elements like product type, service level, shipment date, and customer type help to personalize the video experience. This type of experience can also allow a brand to gather valuable data on the viewer and help better understand viewer preferences for products, services, investment, and other offerings that can be used across the omnichannel customer experience.

Listen, measure, and optimize

Emotionally intelligent brands listen to their customers. Regardless of the channel or medium, it’s important to capture customer signals from every interaction and feed them into your CDP or foundational data source. But capturing those signals is half the battle. It’s also important that you consolidate data in an analytics tool to holistically understand customer experiences and optimize subsequent interactions across the customer journey.

Not all channels are created equal. To get started, focus on the channels that offer the greatest number of signals that can be used for personalization. These signals include view, click and link behavior on social, time spent, and interactions per visit on your website. If you choose to experiment with video-powered experiences, you can benefit from built-in video engagement metrics, like call-to-action engagement, and other insights that are unique to video as a medium.

As you consider ways to strengthen the customer experience through emotionally intelligent communications, take the time to think holistically about all your channels and how personalization can help build that repour across experiences. To build a long-term scalable strategy, leverage your most bountiful and valuable resource, data, and activate it through video to power experiences that convey true relevance and empathy to your customers.