- As emotion becomes an increasingly critical component for forging connections with consumers, the idea that technology inherently hampers efforts to create resonance is an industry myth marketers should ignore, according to a Forrester Research report made available to Marketing Dive. In fact, technology can be a strong enabler of emotional connection when leveraged appropriately, the research group said.
- In Forrester's findings, live-person sales and self-service kiosks both elicited a 60% positive interaction, for example. The report examined digital experiences ranging from automated self-checkouts to onsite messengers and video chats.
- However, automation doesn't necessarily result in customer loyalty. While functions like self-checkout can generate overall customer satisfaction, "seamless" convenience is less likely to develop customer loyalty than a strong personal interaction at the outset, Forrester said. Buyers and sellers on Etsy communicate back-and-forth before products are purchased, enhancing the overall emotional value of sales, for example.
Forrester's report highlights several standing industry misconceptions that contribute to marketer's failure to come across as authentic. The findings about technology potentially augmenting efforts to build emotional connections are especially important as marketers face a barrage of new digital offerings that are perhaps unfairly viewed as erasing the human touch from marketing, when they could really be bolstering an area where even many big-name brands continue to falter.
The key to seeing success in implementing such technologies might be to build emotional design into digital experiences that are otherwise automated. Marketers must also ignore commonly-held stereotypes in these designs, such as women being more emotional than men or millennials responding more strongly to brand experiences than older demographic groups, to instead focus on stoking universal emotions like excitement, Forrester said.
The research group pointed to Hershey's Smile Sampler as a standout example here. The kiosk's camera dispenses a free piece of candy to store visitors after they stop and smile at it. The Smile Sampler, beyond potentially sweetening moods, is shown to drive foot traffic and sales, making a win for retailers and shoppers.
While no consumer interactions with a brand's technology should ever be clunky, Forrester's findings also underscore how an obsession with seamlessness and expediency doesn't always lead to expected results. Quick and simple functions might even harm the quality of customer experience, as positive emotional responses aren't inherently associated with what companies view as "easy," the report said. Highlighting Etsy's model as a case where the customer feels valued, Forrester noted that layering on a human interaction to technology might help build loyalty.