When trying to connect with customers before, during, and after purchase, it is essential that we reach them on an emotional level. It’s true that logic always plays a part, but emotion is what captures a person’s interest initially and in the end, compels them to make a decision and act. More factual criteria, like the features and benefits of a product, are most powerful after a person is paying attention and before they take a final illogical leap to a decision. But, at the beginning of the decision process and at the end, emotion is key.

Decisions are Both Rational and Emotional

It’s the emotional aspect of decision making that first captures a person’s interest, enables them to purchase, and maintains their attachment. When buying a car, rational aspects include the engine, number of seats, mileage, top speed, and many other factors. Emotional aspects are more intangible and numerous. They could include how the car makes a person feel (accepted, rebellious, bold, safe, etc.), expected experiences (fun family moments, mountain adventures, or bond building road trips), and the personality a person ascribes to the brand (cool, popular, or delightful for example).

Any decision you make today to engage with a company will be both emotional and rational. Emotional decisions are fast and often subconscious. Rational decisions are laboured and intensely conscious. We can distance ourselves from emotions and seek to exclude them using logical tools and methods of analysis, but ultimately we can only minimize their effects.

First Impressions are Key

First impressions with a brand are important because though we often evaluate options analytically, that process is biased by an emotional front-runner. Through bias, we tell a rational story to substantiate early impressions. The entire process is coloured by an initial more emotional impression that is communicated by elements of the product or service’s brand.

Decisions Are Always Emotional

Once we have weighed all the options, emotion again plays a key role in decision making. Choice is complex, and even when we can overcome early impressions and biases, there is often a gap that logic cannot cross. That emotional gap, where the facts don’t fully line up or can’t concretely point to one outcome, is another area where emotion plays a prominent role. In studying people with damage to their brains that prevented them from feeling emotion, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio found that these people could not make decisions—he wrote a book on the subject. They could follow the analytical process right up to the point of deciding but could not make a final leap and arrive at a conclusion. That is because decisions often include less rational considerations that require emotion to move forward, such as conflicting pros and cons.

How You Make a Customer Feel is Most Important

The most successful products are often not the best, and many excellent products languished for decades before making a strong emotional connection with customers, such as Nike, Jack Daniel’s, and Starbucks. Any attempt to attract, engage and retain customers or clients in a B2B or B2C context must successfully incorporate rational and emotional elements. We believe how a business makes a customer feel is most important. To successfully attract, engage, and maintain a customer or client, all businesses must craft an experience that goes beyond the more rational functional and pleasure-seeking/pain-avoiding criteria. That’s not to say that the rational aspects are not critical to a customer or prospective client’s decision-making process, but we believe, and many studies support, that they only confirm a person’s desire to purchase a product or engage a company.