In part 3 of our blog serialisation of the latest Webhelp whitepaper “Emotion: Establishing emotional connections with customers: What brands need to know” here industry expert Scott Logie, Customer Engagement Director, REaD Group and Chair of the DMA Customer Engagement Committee, shares his view.

For the DMA’s Customer Engagement Committee members, the topic of emotional connection is very important. As consumers we have emotions. We feel strongly about brands. It therefore makes sense that brands build on this.

However, ‘connection’ differs from brand to brand and it’s not always straightforward to pinpoint the drivers.

Take a dating company for example. An emotional connection is actually what their customers are buying. There’s an assumption that openness will be quite high, and that extroversion would be highly correlated with openness. However, in work we did for a leading dating agency, this was not the case for all customer segments. Rather than being driven by traditional demographics (age or gender for example) or personality traits, we found that segments are actually driven by behaviour and life-stage.

Emotional connection is key to loyalty. DMA Research reveals interesting similarities – and differences – regarding brand loyalty. All brands can have a ‘functional loyalty’ that’s based on the right method, the right product or service and the right price. That’s the baseline.

In financial services for example, unless you get the functional stuff right, there’s no point in brands trying to tap into emotions. On the other hand, consumers are increasingly ‘big’ on ethics and morals in certain sectors, and some will actively seek out brands that treat people fairly and are concerned about the environment.

In terms of ‘tactics’, rewards don’t play a big role in terms of loyalty to brands, with the exception of supermarkets, which is hardly surprising as we’re well trained in terms of supermarket rewards.

However, even here there are some interesting findings. Financial services organisations typically don’t offer rewards, yet in our research consumers stated that they would respond favourably to them.

In the YouGov survey for Webhelp: Only 18% of respondents said that they consider things like “if the brand gives me personalised rewards (e.g. birthday vouchers, discount codes, etc.)” when thinking about if they are are emotionally connected to a brand.

By far the biggest complaint in the DMA’s survey was a ‘lack of consistency’. Often consumers will get a campaign they’re interested in, but when they respond it’s a real “oh no” moment when they try to contact the brand via the website, on social, or by telephone and the experience doesn’t follow suit. Customers are more demanding than ever, so ignore consistency at your peril…

It’s worth noting that organisational structure can be a barrier to consistency – with siloed teams being the biggest challenge. Unless there’s an executive sponsor or a key driver to change that, then brands will struggle. Certain companies realise this; Santander, for example, is trying to unify across all their teams and consider the end to end customer journeys. However, by and large, not enough is being done.

To conclude, while it’s possible to measure loyalty, the measurement of emotional connection has some way to go. Many brands don’t know where to start, although some companies we work with analyse demographics and behaviours, overlaying data from Mention Me, a ‘refer a friend’ platform. It’s not highly scientific, but it does give a measure of loyalty and recommendation.

The DMA’s Customer Engagement Committee was put together to help brands reach and engage customers and develop customer loyalty across all channels. Its mantra is to combine data, technology and creativity to help brands dramatically improve their campaign results.

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