In part 3 of our blog serialisation of the latest Webhelp whitepaper “Emotion: Establishing emotional connections with customers: What brands need to know” A driving force in the ‘Think Human’ re-brand, Polly Ashdown, Marketing & Communications Director Webhelp UK, India & South Africa, reveals how brand humanity can create positive emotion and prevent disruption in CX.

As the range of digital consumer platforms and devices multiply, customer relationships are increasingly being disrupted by digital communications. Used to getting what they want when they want it, customers now expect brands to interact with them across each touch-point consistently – and in line with their expectations.

The brands that are able to speak with customers – rather than at them – will create and reinforce emotional connection. As our new YouGov consumer research shows, the impact of brand humanity on consumer behaviour cannot be underestimated. And neither can the impact on measurable outcomes including spend, loyalty and advocacy.

But how important is this connection to the customer, and consequentially to brands? Overall, 40% of consumers report feeling an emotional connection to a brand, and this connection makes them behave in different ways towards the brand.

In fact, of those who said they feel an emotional connection to one or more brands, 54% of people are prepared to pay slightly more for products/services, 66% are more loyal to the brand, 55% are likely to purchase other products/services, 63% recommend the brand to family and friends, and 49% share experiences of the brand.

Revealingly, only 4% of customers reported that having an emotional connection to a brand would NOT make them behave in a particular way, when talking to friends and family.

And these results become all the more interesting when we look at the source of emotional connection. The top 5 ways in which people feel emotionally connected to a brand are: The overall customer experience (53%), The brand is easy to deal with (38%), The brand’s values are similar to mine (34%), The quality of interactions with the brand (26%), The brand is ‘human’ (22%).

As we can see, customers reward brands who successfully demonstrate humanity with loyalty, advocacy, and their cash. If brands are perceived as ‘human’, customers are more likely to: Emotionally connect with the brand (net likely 56%), Go back to the brand repeatedly, rather than trying a different brand (net more likely 69%), Spend more money with the brand (net ‘more likely’ 61%), Recommend the brand to other people (net ‘more likely’ 67%). People in the ABC1 (the three higher social and economic groups) bracket are more likely than C2DE (the three lower social and economic groups) respondents to take positive actions towards a brand because it feels ‘human’.

Brands therefore have an opportunity to leverage emotional connection as a powerful driver of positive behaviours with customers with disposable income.

Brands that really ‘get’ the importance of a human angle look at making connection in the most human way possible. They’re less focused on the transaction – i.e. of selling the product, or answering the question – they’re focused on building trust, anticipating customer needs, and giving customers the edge. They know that consistency is key to trust and credibility, and focus on the entire experience, rather than one element of the customer journey.

In a nutshell, brands that are human are good at building relationships. They design customer experience from the customer’s ‘ideal’ of a relationship, and with a good understanding of their motivations. Customer insight and analytics are key to making sure that everything – from messaging, the language and channels used – correspond to the customer’s ‘ideal’.

At Webhelp, we’re using customer insight and analytics to create experiences that are human. While technology is inevitably core to customer experience, we always view technology from the standpoint of how it can augment the end to end experience and bring out the best in people.

Consider emotional connection as a hierarchy. Clearly, there are functional “transactional” things that need to ‘get done’, but there are experiences that need to happen in order to form emotional connection, and achieve the holy grail of loyalty and advocacy.

You can follow blog the serialisation, and join the conversation, on the Webhelp LinkedIn and Twitter sites or read the Whitepaper in full below.