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How Emotional Engineering is Changing the Customer Experience

emotional engineering

Eyeballs. Yes, that’s right, it’s all about eyeballs. For marketers it’s about getting customers to view your website or product and make a purchase or take some type of action. Yet for all marketers focusing on the mobile app market, the key question is how to create a compelling user experience so that the user becomes a repeat customer? The answer lies in the mobile app developer’s ability to create an experience that creates loyal customers by using emotional engineering.

And that’s important since, according to research from analyst firm Gartner, “In 2018, smartphone vendors will focus on delivering more compelling personalized experiences.”

But for all the bells and whistles that mobile app developers create, what increasingly sets mobile app marketers apart from competitors are those using “emotional engineering” to create a high-level user experience. What is emotional engineering? Professor Emeritus Mitsuo Nagamachi of Hiroshima University defined it as “the technology to design goods which appeal to emotion and sensibility by translating human sensibility and images into physical design factors.”

Leveraging Emotional Engineering

Beyond features and functionality that a mobile device offers, a differentiator when designing mobile apps focuses on the emotion behind the user experience. For example, when a mobile app presents an easy-to-view screen with images that are properly sized based on the device, that’s a technological prerequisite. But emotional engineering incorporates human psychology and emotion into the design process. For instance, how do you design a mobile app if the user is anxious about using a new app? What about adding an element of nostalgia into the user experience to produce a certain feeling and drive a purchase?

For marketers seeking innovative ways to engage customers and improve the user experience on mobile devices, designing mobile apps based on emotional engineering represents a unique approach to influencing a customer to act a certain way or take a specific action.

For example, we worked with a major international restaurant chain that wanted to make their mobile app the preferred medium for ordering. We built on that goal by designing a mobile app that brings the emotions of joy and delight (what the customer would get with the indoor experience) to the new mobile delivery app experience. We worked with the client to identify several pain points, including ease of customization, ease of product discovery and creating an intuitive navigation structure, in the current user journey and created a much more enjoyable customer experience. The result was a 103 percent increase in orders compared to the old app which redirected traffic from web-based ordering.

One way that marketers can better understand the customer is to follow the mantra of “Go out of the Building” or GOOB. Rather than analyzing stacks of data about user preferences and observing user test groups, utilizing GOOB means developers take a more human-centric approach to app design. This is done by “living with the user” by observing how the customer uses the product and understanding human behaviors. This allows app developers to create a unique customer experience that helps turn the customer into an advocate by using emotional engineering.

For example, for the international restaurant chain, the design team went to several physical outlets to observe consumer behavior to study the pattern of ordering and identify customer pain points. The team noticed that people often upgraded to a meal option at the counter as a last-minute decision which highlighted the need to create a digital experience that replicated this action – of easily converting items in the cart to a meal.

To gauge the success of an e-commerce app, marketers can track purchase frequency and order size before and after mobile rollout. The measurement could vary depending on the what the customer prioritizes, for instance time spent per session, or how often the app is accessed. Another option is to use a Net Promoter Score which is an industry standard that gives an indication of customer loyalty.

It’s hard for marketers to ask customers what they want in a mobile app since they may not have an answer. It’s incumbent upon the mobile app designer to include an element of empathy into the design process. By observing customer behavior and listening to customer feedback, it’s easier for a marketer to design an app that is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. This goes beyond simply putting 20 customers in a room and seeing how they interact with an app.

By understanding human psychology and incorporating an emotional element into the mobile app design process, marketers can go a long way to securing customer loyalty. And our own ever-growing data sets support this.

Ravi Teja Bommireddipalli
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