The relationship between consumers and brands is no longer a mere transfer of goods or services for monetary exchange. Long gone are the days where consumers make a purchase on a whim. Today, they conduct extensive online research and have nearly endless options. They also have more information and more ways to interact with brands than ever before. These factors, combined with cultural shifts, find consumers approaching brand interactions much more like a relationship than a transaction.
This personal connection has created a kind of reciprocity between consumers and brands. And where a healthy back-and-forth exists, trust grows. InMoment’s 2017 CX Trends Report revealed the impact this new perspective has on the brand-consumer relationship, including both the real risks and opportunities.
We asked 20,000 consumers and 10,000 CX professional across Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand to tell us which emotion they associate most strongly with a negative customer experience. The findings showed a major disconnect between what brands believe and what consumers feel.
Consumers Don’t Have Unreasonable Expectations
The top emotions consumers reported feeling when they had a bad experience were “disappointment,” which implies they had an expectation which the brand failed to meet—or in relationship terms, they broke a promise.
In the Age of the Customer, it’s easy to chalk this up to rising, and perhaps even unreasonable expectations, but that’s not the story the unstructured feedback told; just the opposite in fact. A Danish consumer’s comment is representative of what we heard from satisfied consumers across geographies: “They had what I was looking for.”
So because consumers feel like they’re in a relationship with brands, and their expectations are reasonable, when those expectations are not met, strong negative emotions emerge.
The Impact of Anger
What brands do not seem to comprehend is the intensity of these negative emotions. In fact, the study found that consumers were nearly twice as likely as brands to associate anger with negative experiences.
The qualitative data around bad brand experiences was even more definitive. A Finnish consumer reported feeling “rage, disappointment and loathing,” and a consumer from Sweden claimed to have “lost all trust in the brand.”
So how do brands reduce or prevent these kinds of feelings?
Reducing Negative Emotions
When attempting to reduce negative emotions and poor consumer experiences, it is imperative that brands do two things:
1) Align the brand promise with customer expectations.
2) Reliably deliver on that promise.
This may sound like an oversimplification, however it’s surprising how many companies still overshoot, or miss the mark completely.
Emotion plays a fundamental role in any relationship, and by understanding the power emotion holds—and taking action to positively influence emotion—brands will create long-lasting, reciprocal relationships with their customers.