Customer journeys have less friction – but what about emotional connection?

Kayleigh Jenkins, Business Development Director

Consumers’ digital behaviour and their expectations have been accelerated by the pandemic.  Therefore, marketing investment in seamless, omnichannel customer experience is more crucial than ever. But in the race to provide frictionless functionality, are marketers forgetting to smell the flowers? Are they in danger of shunting consumers through the buyer journey without giving them moments of joy and all-important emotional connection along the way? If so, at what cost? And how is ‘Creative CX’ the answer?


Consumers have been rewired to become digital-first in the last two years, according to the 2022 Adobe Digital Trends Report. And so, not surprisingly, global marketing investment is expected to grow 30% by 2025, an increase of $4.7trn (£3.5trn), as marketers scramble to match the turbo-charged consumer need with an increasingly agile, flexible, ‘always on, everywhere’, frictionless customer journey.

But this drive for seamless functionality comes with brand differentiation and consumer engagement challenges, especially in more traditionally functional and rational sectors. Take banking, for example. Super-apps such as the social network WeChat now include financial services functionality such as checking balances and paying bills within its platform. Consumers end up with a seamless chat/ convenience experience. But financial brands are struggling to retain loyalty and differentiation, so they need to work harder to restore empathy and an emotional connection with their audiences.

Increased investment in personalisation is helping. But consumers say many brands still don’t deliver much more than a name-swapping, box-ticking exercise.


So data is the answer to better consumer engagement, right? Yes and no.

Data is the fuel for the bigger, wider, faster, seamless customer journey highway. But industry reports suggest that marketers are better at collecting data than connecting its dots to unearth human insights. 72% of global marketers say they have access to quality data, but only 26% are confident in how they’re using it, according to Nielsen’s annual marketing report.

Data silos piling up in different departments are contributing to this lack of optimisation, as is tasking IT departments to interpret research intended to power empathetic customer experiences.


Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report reveals that 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services, but 52% complain that most brand experiences are generally too impersonal. This is despite the majority of global CMOs saying that creativity that builds the brand and creates an emotional connection is important to the future success of their business. That’s because they know that the commercial kickback of investing in empathy, not just functionality, is huge: Capgemini research shows that emotionally engaged consumers spend up to two times more on brands they’re loyal to.

Emotionally engaged consumers are also key to future-proofing a company’s first-party data strategy which needs bolstering as third-party data regulations continue to bite. If marketers can promise consumers better experiences in exchange for their first-party data, they’ll be more inclined to hand it over.


How can marketers provide consumers with a frictionless as well as a human experience? By applying an emotional lens to the functional objective. That means creating seamless journeys with moments along the way that engage, surprise and delight consumers, to make marketing meaningful. It means using creativity to add warmth to cold analytic insight, while also using science to create a frictionless path and avoid unnecessary creative confection. This Creative CX approach anticipates consumer needs, demonstrates relevance and creates unique, meaningful moments of warmth and joy.

Our work with Pret A Manger’s US customer payment and loyalty app is a great case in point. We collated research and data and analysed it empathetically to create a customer journey map which was not only seamless, but also outlined which customer actions would trigger ‘moments of joy’ system alerts or marketing emails. Rewarding key behaviours other than order value was key to the app’s success, leveraging the Pret brand to aid differentiation in an otherwise transactional environment. With a ‘Give/Try/Buy’ mechanic, customers were rewarded for how generous they were ‘gifting’ treats to their friends and colleagues, and how adventurous they were in trying new things on the menu. This meant that the loyalty felt more random and elevated it from the usual frequency and value of purchases – which can feel robotic and cold. This type of customer relationship management makes it look like a brand is reading a customer’s mind. And getting it right is both a science and an art.

We make it our mission to uncover and understand the turning points and the truths along the customer journey. We then turn that insight into meaningful creative that moves the audience, as well as moving them along the buyer journey. 


To humanise and elevate your digital customer journey

Contact Kayleigh Jenkins, Business Development Director


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