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  • A Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper Commissioned By Braze

    October 2019

    Build Brand Humanity By Mastering Empathy At Scale Brands Must Understand The Drivers Of Human Communication Then Operationalize Against Them

  • Table Of Contents

    Executive Summary

    Understanding What Drives Human Communication

    Customers Intensify Their Demand For Human Communication

    Operationalizing Brand Humanity: The Brand Humanity Maturity Model

    The Foundations Of Brands’ Human Communication Programs Are Showing Cracks

    Investments In Powerful Technology Will Fuel The Future Of Brand Humanity

    The Benefits Of Brilliance: Better Business And Brand Outcomes

    Key Recommendations

    Appendix

    1

    2

    3

    7

    9

    12

    13

    16

    17

    ABOUT FORRESTER CONSULTING

    Forrester Consulting provides independent and objective research-based consulting to help leaders succeed in their organizations. Ranging in scope from a short strategy session to custom projects, Forrester’s Consulting services connect you directly with research analysts who apply expert insight to your specific business challenges. For more information, visit forrester.com/consulting.

    © 2019, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. Forrester®, Technographics®, Forrester Wave, RoleView, TechRadar, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. For additional information, go to forrester.com. [E-43419]

    Project Director: Nicholas Phelps, Senior Market Impact Consultant

    Contributing Research: Forrester’s CMO research group

  • Executive Summary How do brands reinforce customer relationships in an era when customers are more empowered to choose which brands they engage with than ever? That was the central question in 2018, when Forrester Consulting and Braze embarked on a unprecedented journey to better understand both the components and results of human communication — or rather, how do customers come to believe that a brand had spoken with them in a human way, and what happens when a customer has a human experience with that brand?

    This previous study revealed that customers use a mix of emotions and functional triggers to evaluate a brand’s humanity, and demonstrated that the case for brands to focus on human communication was compelling. Customers who had a human experience with a brand were more likely to: 1) make a purchase with that brand; 2) say they loved the brand; and 3) be satisfied and remain loyal to that brand.

    In October 2019, Braze commissioned Forrester Consulting to reexamine and take these questions one step further — how have customer’s expectations for human communication changed? And how ready are brands to deliver these experiences today? To explore these questions, Forrester conducted two online surveys, one with 3,336 global consumers and another with 1,617 marketing decision makers to explore this topic. We found that customer expectations are rising for brands to communicate with their customers in a human way, and that many brands struggle with the fundamental building blocks of human communication programs.

    KEY FINDINGS

    › Consumer demands for human communication are rising. Year- over-year comparison shows that customers’ expectations for how brands can demonstrate humanity are rising. Overall, the bar for qualifying as a human interaction has risen about 5% since 2018, meaning that brands now need to register that many more emotional and functional cues in order for an interaction to be registered as being human.

    › Brands must start their human communication journey with customer empathy and insights. Generally speaking, brands struggle the most with insight management and creation, as well as executing on delivering human communication at scale. These are foundational elements of brand humanity. Insights management and creation represents brands’ ability to listen to and understand customer needs, whereas execution represents their ability to act. It’s impossible to deliver humanity at scale without first mastering empathy at scale.

    › Brands are investing in powerful technology to capture the key business and customer benefits of human communication. Customers reveal they are significantly more likely to love, make purchases from, be satisfied with, recommend, and be loyal to brands that deliver human experiences to them. As a result, brands plan to invest in technology that powers human communication, especially those brands that perform well in human communication.

    Human communication is defined as occurring when a brand communicates in a way that comes across as natural, or in a way that a real person would talk.

    1 | Build Brand Humanity By Mastering Empathy At Scale

  • Understanding What Drives Human Communication Customers in 2018 delivered a simple yet compelling message for brands, “We expect you to meet us on our level with human experiences, and we will reward you for doing so with lasting, rich, and profitable relationships.” Brands’ response is both encouraging and demonstrates a truly human side, “We hear you.”

    Ninety-six percent of brands feel that human communication is important or critical to their organization. Furthermore, this focus makes sense in context of the key objectives that brands are looking to tackle this year. Improving customer trust and satisfaction, excelling at capturing attention and market share, and driving more profitable customer relationships are at the top of brands’ to-do lists (see Figure 1). This customer centricity is essential to modern brands’ survival in an era when customers are more empowered than ever to dictate the terms of their relationships with companies. The current iteration of customer loyalty shows itself as a willingness to abandon brands that fail to meet their demands in favor of brands who obsess over delighting them.

    “Our customers trust us more when we speak to them in a human way. They know that we care about them, and that we’re not just trying to make profits by having them face emotionless robots.”

    Executive survey respondent verbatim answer

    2 | Build Brand Humanity By Mastering Empathy At Scale

    Figure 1

    54% Improve customer trust

    “What are your organization’s key marketing objectives for this year?” (Select up to 5)

    Base: 1,617 global marketing decision makers responsible for or in�uencing their organization’s brand strategy Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Braze, October 2019

    Base: 1,617 global marketing decision makers responsible for or in�uencing their organization’s brand strategy Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Braze, October 2019

    Nearly every brand understands that human communication is important:

    54% Improve customer satisfaction

    45% Win new customers

    96% Important to critical

    4% Not at all to somewhat important

    44% Increase brand awareness

    43% Increase customer lifetime value

    39% Drive repeat purchases/customer loyalty

    39% Increase pro�tability per product/service

  • Customers Intensify Their Demand For Human Communication The first Brand Humanity Index (BHI) study drew a direct line between brands’ pursuit of objectives like improving customer satisfaction, driving purchase and loyalty, and an ability to deliver humanlike experiences to their customers. This gave rise to a central question, what does human communication really mean? To better understand how brands can create human experiences, we created the Brand Humanity Index, or BHI, based on consumer surveys that asked questions about a recent and memorable interaction they had with a brand and whether that interaction was positive or negative. Thirty different positive emotional associations and 18 functional communication attributes were tested for their predictive value in determining whether or not the brand demonstrated “human communication” during the specific interaction.

    The BHI is based on four main components. Emotion, being one of these four main components, is based on the nine most powerful emotional reactions consumers have that predict whether or not they experience human communication in a brand interaction. Finally, all four components of communication — “emotional,” “personal,” “considerate,” and “natural” — were assigned weights based on their ability to predict how likely a customer was to describe a brand’s interaction as exemplifying human communication.

    A comparison of BHI results year over year reveals that brand humanity is in a state of evolution, where customer expectations both rise and shift around the margins. Both in terms of the bottom-line BHI index, as well as with the individual emotional and functional characteristics that comprise it, customers’ demands have risen. Overall, the bar for reaching a human interaction has risen about 5% since 2018, meaning brands need to hit that many more emotional and functional cues in order to register a human interaction. Similarly, the bar for each component of the BHI has risen accordingly as well (see Figure 2).

    3 | Build Brand Humanity B