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Customer emotions can increase service costs, call times

Lots of companies talk about keeping customers satisfied, happy or even “delighted,” but a new study has dug deeper by measuring a range of emotions across tens of thousands of call-center conversations.

The research makes some unsurprising findings (customers score interactions lowest when they feel anger, for example), along with some unexpected ones, such as the fact that — of the four emotions measured — the most frequent was joy.

“Feelings undeniably matter in the customer experience, and not all feelings matter equally or in the same way,” stated the report, released in late September by Mattersight’s Personality Labs and the consultancy Temkin Group. “Implementing processes and/or technologies that are able to clearly distinguish the type and frequency of emotions expressed in contact center conversations, using that knowledge to direct customer experience design, monitoring outcomes and adjusting approaches as necessary, can help an organization have more of the kinds of emotionally-satisfying conversations that drive customer loyalty and business success.”

Using 118,116 de-identified contact-center conversations from 11 different enterprises, Mattersight and the Temkin Group found that the lowest “Net Promoter® Scores” given by customers after calls came when the dominant emotions during interactions were anger and sadness. The most expensive and time-consuming calls, on the other hand, involved contacts with customers who were “detectably fearful.”

It’s no surprise that calls exhibiting the emotion of joy earned the highest customer scores. But a related finding — that the most common emotion paired with joy was anger — was both interesting and unexpected.

“We didn’t dig into this phenomenon, but it could be possible that when companies deal well with customer anger, it elicits joy,” Temkin Group co-founder Bruce Tempkin wrote in a blog post. “This may the similar to the trend we discuss in the report ‘What Happen After A Good or Bad Experience’, where when companies respond well to a customer issue, customers will often actually increase their spending with that company.”

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