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  • Writer's pictureDr Milyan Hills

How Can You Harness Emotions, Neurochemistry and Prediction to Win Customer Hearts & Minds

EMPATHY is the competence of a company to understand customers (preferably dynamically and accurately) and act (in productive and permissive ways). A fundamentally human activity, as individuals we spend a lot of our time guessing at how others might feel. We often get it wrong.

But professionals don't. And the profession of Anthropology has something quite unique to offer here. Generating a synthetic assessment of others and their various world-views is something which we anthropologists have uniquely deep training on and real world experience in. We pride ourselves on being able to make sense of beliefs and behaviors which most would struggle to do.

The science of Anthropology goes still further: our duty lies in cultural translation - helping communicate to others that these unusual, maybe seemingly irrational behaviors and rituals are - contextually - meaningful. We know that if we'd have been born in that environment: we'd likely act in the same way. If we worked in an organization with a particular corporate culture: we might not act in the specific ways that others do, but we could understand why some might.

And we know that humans make their decisions shaped by their neurochemistry. We tend to pursue things which make us feel better about ourselves. We tend to shun shame. We make poor choices if suffering unwanted stress. If we aren't heard - we anger or terminate a conversation. But marketing, sales, advertising across any channel is unsighted on the emotional disposition of customers. The campaigns roll out and we measure their effectiveness. But we haven't considered how customers feel and whether now is the perfect (or a perfectly awful) moment to interact.

It is critically important (and difficult to achieve) insight into customers' emotional state. Because businesses have access to (or can start recording) recent interaction data with customers and the reactions of customers to those interventions - it's now possible to anticipate their emotional state. Collating and analyzing this raw data creates the capacity to act with Digital Empathy. We can then engage with customers in an emotionally-tuned and uniquely beneficial way.

It's easy for CEOs, CXOs and thought leaders (see numerous recent reports from Accenture, Gartner, Google and others) to state that being empathetic leaders presiding over empathetic organizations and "delivering" empathy to customers is important. And of course this is true.

But, there's one massive problem.



Empathy is a competence which must be embedded into a business's DNA, conditioning every touchpoint that a brand provides for the customer. Empathy is the secret sauce of the wise and progressive company: where the business has strategic, operational and tactical empathy for the customer. Corporate empathy ensures that emotionally-tuned actions and behaviors trigger positive neurochemical reactions (emotions) on the part of the customer. The customer experiences near perfection in all interactions (in-bound and outbound) with that business. This builds retention, satisfaction (think NPS), customer and stakeholder ambassadorship for the brand and sustainable profitability.

Digital Empathy is technology-driven collation and analysis of data to support emotionally-informed and tuned decision-making. Whether in terms of strategy, marketing, sales, customer care, PR and executive / crisis communications - Digital Empathy helps guide the business to transform, temper, sustain or accelerate particular emotional effects across the customer base. In other words, to produce neurochemical impacts in customers of delight, reassurance, a sense of achievement, satisfaction, commitment, confirmation of having been heard .... and so on.

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