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The Rise of Emotive CX in the Age of AI : Why Human Connection Matters More Than Ever

Thu, March 28, 2024

“Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Dr Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

In any customer interaction, you should always be asking yourself: What’s at stake?

Is the customer looking to make a routine transaction as quickly and easily as possible? Or is there something more important to the customer that’s on the line?

Emotions are primarily what drives us as human beings. Sure, we rationalise our decisions, but when it comes to choosing between option A and B, our hearts usually rule our heads.

That is why, when it comes to deciding how your contact centre will handle different types of interactions in the age of AI, you have to consider what Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park famously said.

Just because you could get a Large Language Model (LLM) bot to answer a customer, you need to stop to think if you should.

What is Emotive CX?

AI is, of course, a hugely powerful technology and has incredible potential to utterly transform the whole world, never mind the contact centre. Every CX professional and organisation operating a contact centre should explore and deploy AI.

At the same time, it should be kept firmly in mind that AI is just a tool like any other. There are times when it’s right to use it and times when it’s not.

What should be uppermost in your mind when designing customer journeys, mapping out processes, or building touchpoints for your customers and staff is the golden question: What’s at stake?

That end goal is what should be driving all your choices.

For some businesses, saving customers time and money is all they need to worry about. Customer relationships are primarily transactional, with very little depth.

Increasingly, however, businesses are realising that standing out from the competition on price or ease of use alone is not enough. At best, it gets you into a race to the bottom as you and your competition keep slashing prices. At worst, you give your margins away and have to claw some back by reducing quality. During a time of inflation and instability, it’s a risky bet that you can keep this going for long.

Many companies go the opposite way. They build brands that are authentic, meaningful, high-quality, and offer something unique. They create an emotional connection with their customers, and as a result can often charge a premium for their product while engendering incredible levels of loyalty in their customers, who become more like fans.

This is where Emotive CX comes into its own. Once you recognise that customers are more likely to make decisions based on their feelings about your brand and your products, you can design experiences to stimulate those emotions.

Understanding Your Brand and Your Customers

Context is everything. Your company’s brand, products, value proposition, price points, and go-to-market channels are all designed to appeal to a specific group or people you’ve identified as potential customers.

You’re probably never going to be able to market fast food, for example, to Jacob Rees Mogg. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad product or experience; it’s just not a good match for that individual’s preferences.

Only when you understand your customers can you create the right customer experience for them. As we have said before, if your business is a low-cost, high-convenience retailer, your CX will be very different from that of a luxury department store.

There are many ways to find out what your customers like and don’t like – we wrote a whole article about it here – including customer surveys, market research, post-interaction questionnaires, transactional analytics to show you what customers purchase, and AI-powered conversational analytics to mine your past customer interactions for hidden insights

The Business Case for Investing in Emotive CX

For the rest of this article, we’ll assume you’re a brand that wants to build authentic and meaningful connections with your customers. We will also assume that you don’t want to do this just for fun but rather as a means to differentiate your business and drive growth and profitability. So, how does Emotive CX help you accomplish all those things?

Traditional customer service focuses on speed, efficiency, and standardisation to make everyone’s life that little bit easier. Success is measured against operational KPIs such as how long each interaction takes (AHT) and whether the customer’s issue is solved in one call (FCR).

Without necessarily sacrificing those efficiency KPIs, Emotive CX views each interaction as a relationship-building exercise and an opportunity to build trust, rapport, and loyalty. Each customer journey, each conversation, is personalised. The customer’s interaction and transaction history are recognised and leveraged to make the current interaction faster, smoother, or more relevant.

The idea, which is not exactly revolutionary, is that customers who feel understood, valued, and cared for are more likely to stick with a brand and even recommend it to others.

The difficult parts are doing this well, cost-efficiently at scale, and in a manner that is relevant for your particular brand and target audience. But if you can do it, Emotive CX becomes a major source of differentiation and a driver of growth and profitability.

Implementing Emotive CX

To deliver Emotive CX at scale and cost-efficiently, your contact centre will have to invest in its people, re-engineer its processes, and fully leverage technology including AI.

Caring individuals are at the heart of Emotive CX. In high-stakes, high-value, high-emotion, or complex interactions, human brand ambassadors bring unique skills that AI cannot replicate. They excel at compassionate listening, devising tailored or out-of-the-box solutions, and making customers feel heard.

To make this a reality, companies need to:

  • Prioritise empathy and emotional intelligence during the hiring process.
  • Provide extensive training in conflict resolution, active listening, and building rapport.
  • Create a workplace culture that acknowledges and rewards the emotional efforts of employees.
  • Empower frontline staff by giving them the tools and autonomy to make decisions, personalise each conversation, and go above and beyond for customers.

Technology is crucial to this task in three main areas:

  • AI systems such as chatbots can handle routine interactions, allowing brand ambassadors to focus on more complex or high-value ones that require problem-solving and empathy.
  • Machine Learning and automation tools such as RPA (Robotic Process Automation) can be used to automate repetitive yet time-consuming tasks, allowing brand ambassadors to focus on customers and creative problem-solving.
  • AI-powered analytics tools such as sentiment analysis and conversational analytics can mine current and past interactions to give brand ambassadors real-time insight and guidance, which help improve the outcomes of their conversations with customers.

The right Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) partner could also be invaluable for companies seeking expertise and scalability. Look for a BPO that specialises in creating brand-differentiating CX solutions for businesses like yours. And which can do it cost-efficiently and at scale. At Ventrica, for example, we recently reduced a new client’s contact centre operational costs by 35% while improving all their CX indicators.

Implementing Emotive CX in your contact centre is a significant undertaking that requires a change of philosophy as much as it demands a transformation of your people, processes, and technology. However, for those businesses that get it right, immense rewards are to be had.

The Future of CX

AI bringing more power to the agent - Chief Technology Officer, Peter Edwards. AI bringing more power to the agent - Chief Technology Officer, Peter Edwards.

We recently launched Ventrica AI and the positive impact it has had in developing the relationship between our clients.

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