As consumer interactions become more digital, customers are looking for more human, stronger emotional connections to the people and organizations they do business with, according to a study released today by Deloitte. This article is copyright 2019 The Best Customer Guide.

The research study, titled "Exploring the Value of Emotion-Driven Engagement," found that 70% of consumers expect a two-way relationship with brands, and are looking for organizations to adapt their offerings and communications based on what customers have told them. The study also found that emotional factors are the primary driver for brand loyalty and brand advocacy, with nearly 60% of respondents using emotional language, such as "love," "happy" and "adore," to describe their connections to their favorite brands. This research goes beyond just marketing interactions. It examines how emotions, contextual experiences and emotionally intelligent organizations impact the entire customer lifecycle, from online engagements and conversations with sales reps, to email newsletters and packaging.

"We've seen a shift in the consumer landscape in which brand loyalty is created from authentic, personal interactions rooted in the human experience. We embarked on this study to uncover what emotionally connects consumers to organizations and how business can build stronger, long-term customer relationships," said Anthony Stephan, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and US head of Deloitte Digital. "We found that building more emotionally intelligent platforms that leverage emotional data at scale will be one of the most important opportunities for companies to drive real business results."

Based on a survey of nearly 1,000 consumers, the research found that while shared values and rational considerations may bring customers to brands in the first place, it is emotional factors that move the needle to build loyal, raving customers. In fact, only 3% of respondents would recommend a company to a friend or colleague based on a brand's shared values.

"While a sense of connection manifests in different ways for various customer segments, the study found that the overwhelming majority of customers want organizations they do business with to understand not only their rational needs, but also their emotional triggers and influences," said report co-author Timothy Greulich, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP and experience management practice leader, Deloitte Digital. "As customers, we want businesses to understand our needs and experiences on an emotional level and interact with us as if the relationship is a personal friendship."

According to the study, consumers expect brands to listen and respond to their needs, but they also feel strongly about the types of information that brands should know about them and how that information should be used. It found:

Trust is the most important emotional factor that influences consumers' connections to a brand. Unfortunately, trust can be broken more easily than it can be established.

Trustworthiness (83%), integrity (79%) and honesty (77%) are the emotional factors that people feel most align with their favorite brands.

More than a third (35%) of consumers do not want their favorite brand to know their browsing history for similar products or services in order to serve relevant ads; but 66% of consumers expect brands to use their feedback to provide new products responsive to their wants and needs.

The survey's findings highlight the need for brands to take a more intentional and structured approach to understanding customer's emotions across their entire lifecycle, while also creating emotionally intelligent organizations and ecosystems that can contextually and automatically interact with customers at scale. Most organizations have a wealth of data to begin this process - it is gathering and using the data at the right time, in the right way and at scale that will distinguish tomorrow's beloved brands.

Visit http://www.deloittedigital.com/us/emotionresearch to download and read the full white paper on the research.