Not only are the emotions of customers an ethical concern for companies, they are also a very practical concern. Users are technologically savvy and can differentiate between products that give them short-term satisfaction and those that will benefit them in the long run. They understand, for the most part, that the products they use will modify their behavior, and, in many cases, that is their reason for using a particular product. And when customers don’t initially understand a product’s influence on their behavior, they figure it out over time, which affects both their usage and consumption habits moving forward.
The majority of B2B revenue is tied to retention. Study after study indicates that repeat business accounts for about 80 percent of company revenue, and that repeat business makes up about 20 percent of the total commercial activity. This is called the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 rule), and it’s a statistical model that exists not only in commerce, but throughout other fields as well. Consideration for clients’ emotions is essential in retaining their business, which in turn is essential to growth and sustainability.
Clients will not use a product if it evokes negative emotions, and they are much more likely to become loyal to products that evoke positive emotions both in the short and long term. Over the course of the past century, marketing and branding have played an increasingly significant role in production and commerce. With that, aesthetics and emotion have broadened the field of experience design beyond mere practicality and usefulness. This shift has resulted in new paradigms through which marketers, companies and manufacturers understand and frame the role of emotions in product design and user interaction.
The Basics Of Emotional Design
The Interaction Design Foundation outlines three essential qualities of emotional design: visceral, behavioral and reflective.
The first, visceral, is the quality that initiates the client’s relationship with the product. It addresses the first, ‘gut’ reactions. Effective visceral emotional design appeals to aesthetic and perceived quality concerns, engaging customers and inviting them to use the product, and to become more involved with the brand as a repeat and loyal customer. Adobe is a prominent example of a B2B company that understands and uses visceral engagement by exciting the senses. As one of the foremost design software brands, Adobe frequently highlights the best work that their users have published in order to market their Creative Cloud suite.
The second quality, behavioral, refers to the overall usability of a product. G Suite — Google’s business apps platform that has undergone several stages of rebranding over the course of its existence — is as good an example as any of the importance of a product’s ease of use and intuitive functionality. With customers like Twitter, Colgate, Roche and more, G Suite is one of the most universally used platforms in the B2B space and beyond, thanks in large part to the vast amounts of research data to which it has access and its significant influence over IoT. But none of this is possible without Google’s ability to gauge and respond to their own customers’ emotions.
The final quality, reflective, is concerned with the lasting effects of products on the lives of their users. These effects can span over hours, days or even years. Clients want to use products that not only make them feel good as they use them, but well afterward too. A customer might ask themselves, ‘what would my life be like without this product?’ Upwork, the popular freelancing and remote work platform, effectively implements reflective emotional design with its product, impacting users in lasting ways. Customers use the platform in order to source talent for work ranging from technical writing, to UX design, to SaaS application development and more. With its tools such as advanced search, task assignment, project tracking, payment integration and more, customers could easily question how they could accomplish their goals and live without the product as Upwork ensures that time spent on the platform is well spent, and time away from it is worry-free.
These three Emotional Design Qualities are key elements for which B2B companies should research, plan, design and develop products to meet the needs of their clients. In order for customer loyalty to be sustained, emotions must play a key role in experience design and customer relationship management.