skip to main content
Advanced Analytics

Why B2B Leaders Should Get in Touch With Their Customers' Feelings

Advanced Analytics

Why B2B Leaders Should Get in Touch With Their Customers' Feelings

by Dan Grafstein and Bailey Nelson
Why B2B Leaders Should Get in Touch With Their Customers' Feelings

Story Highlights

  • Leaders who understand customer emotions can beat the competition
  • Customers are looking for relationships, not just transactions
  • Leaders should create a culture centered around customer service

Feelings matter.

Science tells us that our emotions influence the decisions we make -- more so than rational thinking and objective data do.

If you're a business leader, this might make you wonder how your customers' emotions affect your company's performance.

It's a smart question.

Gallup research demonstrates that emotions influence business outcomes more than leaders realize. In fact, behavioral economists have estimated that emotional factors comprise up to 70% of economic decision-making.

Gallup senior scientist emeritus Daniel Kahneman discusses this phenomenon in his New York Times bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Using a two-system model to explain decision-making, Kahneman shows that gut-driven decision-making, which operates automatically and quickly, influences decision-making more than we care to admit.

Take loss aversion for example. People would rather avoid losses than acquire gains -- that is, they hate to lose more than they love to win. This emotionally-driven bias sways decision-making, often at the expense of rationality.

Fortunately, though emotions and perceptions are fundamentally irrational, they are measurable and predictable.

This means that business leaders in any industry can make sense of customers' feelings -- and, in turn, manage customer relationships to maximize business performance.

Emotional factors comprise up to 70% of economic decision-making.

In fact, companies that apply the principles of behavioral economics effectively can outperform their peers by 85% in sales growth and more than 25% in gross margin, according to Gallup analytics.

The following strategies can help leaders decipher and manage customers' emotions.

1. Use the right analytics to understand emotional attachment.

Determining whether customers are "satisfied" is not enough. Why? Simply meeting customers' rational requirements is a minimum point of entry that won't drive financial performance.

Customers want more than satisfactory transactions -- they are looking for meaningful relationships.

To cultivate such relationships, leaders need a comprehensive understanding of the emotional connections between their company and its customers.

With that perspective, leaders can figure out which customer strategies are working and which aren't -- and ultimately implement changes that foster emotional connections with customers.

Customers want more than satisfactory transactions -- they are looking for meaningful relationships.

For example, a company with the right analytics can uncover the need to better deliver on what they promise and make customers proud to do business with them.

Ultimately, companies that use analytics to implement targeted interventions to emotionally engage customers see 50% higher revenue, 34% higher profitability and 55% higher share of wallet.

2. Talk to your customers.

For B2B companies, quantitative data can only reveal so much about the relationship between a company and its customers.

Only through actual conversations can B2B leaders understand the nuances of what customers are thinking and feeling.

To this end, world-class B2B organizations rely on in-depth customer analytics and qualitative customer feedback to optimize customer relationships.

These companies partner with an objective third party to collect candid, specific insights.

Gathering qualitative feedback does more than inform leaders' strategies; it also communicates to the customer that the B2B company values their opinions and will do whatever it takes to build a thriving, mutually beneficial partnership that will propel the customer's business.

Only through actual conversations can B2B leaders understand the nuances of what customers are thinking and feeling.

3. Build a customer-centric workplace culture.

The right customer analytics are essential for amassing a comprehensive perspective of customers' wants and needs.

But it's not enough to understand how customers feel; companies must use that knowledge to shape their workplace culture and the way they operate.

That is, leaders need to cultivate a customer-centric work culture.

In such a culture, employees are aligned with leaders' vision for customer-centricity, and they understand their roles in it.

They live and breathe their company's brand -- fulfilling brand promises with every customer interaction. They are committed to delivering exceptional customer service.

Ultimately, it's experiences with employees that drive customers' emotions about a company -- and, in turn, customers' buying decisions.

It's up to leaders to empower employees to deliver flawless customer experiences that keep customers happy and wanting more.

Measuring what's intangible -- customers' feelings and emotions -- does far more than reflect how well companies are doing.

Ultimately, it's experiences with employees that drive customers' buying decisions.

Businesses that achieve world-class performance don't do so by accident; they get to the bottom of what customers are thinking and feeling to ensure they satisfy every customer need.

Dan Grafstein is a consultant in Gallup's B2B and Analytics group.

Bailey Nelson is a writer at Gallup.

Gallup


Gallup https://www.gallup.com/analytics/244607/why-b2b-leaders-touch-customers-feelings.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030