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Why So Emotional?

There is a revolution in the science of emotion taking place. It is creating a fundamental shift in thinking about how people make decisions. Today, we recognize that emotions constitute a powerful predictor of decision-making, judgement and choice. How one feels has a greater impact on decision-making than rationale thinking.

Until 20 years ago, few researchers paid much attention to the role of emotions in decision-making. Today, many psychologists now assume that emotions are the dominant driver of our most meaningful decisions in life.

Medical science has proven that 95% of our mental activity is subconscious. We feel before we think, and we buy emotionally. Our emotional brain sends 10 times as much information to our rational brain for processing.

What people remember about a customer experience is determined by the emotions created in specific moments—defining moments along their journey. People judge experiences largely based on the intensity of emotions at these defining moments along their customer experience journey.

To use emotions effectively, we must discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately. There are six emotions which are universally recognized and easily interpreted through facial expressions, regardless of language or culture. They are: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. Even the mind of a dog experiences these six emotions roughly equivalent to that of a two or three year old child.

Our capacity to recognize the feelings of others is based on our ability to see ourselves in others. We tend to be more empathic to those who are similar to ourselves in culture and background. To perceive emotions one must have the ability to detect and decipher emotional expressions in faces, pictures, and voices.

In January, Apple acquired a company called Emotient, makers of artificial intelligence software that analyzes facial expressions to determine a consumer’s emotional state. Apple wants to learn about a consumers’ state of mind as they emotionally respond to product experiences or branding messages.

Branding is fundamentally about the emotional connection a customer has with a product. By definition, branding is the prediction of what to expect multiplied by the emotional power of that experience. It is a marketer’s most advanced emotional tool.

Understanding emotions also impacts innovation and product design. Successful San Francisco innovator, Jane Chen said it best: “The essence of design is empathy”.  When teams work together to co-create a new product or service, they must understand how to fulfill the needs, desires and circumstances of those they are trying to serve.

Discriminating between different emotions during customer interactions is an important first step towards using emotional indicators to improve the customer experience. Examining the intensity of these emotional expressions can be a powerful indicator of customer experience success.

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