Today, we are witnessing a paradigm shift in marketing in the Middle East. In 2016, Deloitte published the “Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions 2016 – Middle East” report, predicting that the number of connected devices in the Middle East will reach four billion by 2020. The hyper-connected and social nature of Middle Eastern markets has shifted the power to influence purchasing behavior from marketers to peers. Scott Cook – co-founder of Intuit, captured the essence of this paradigm shift when he stated that “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” As a direct result of the paradigm shift, customer experience management has now become a top strategic priority for CEOs in the region.

Leading businesses around the Middle East have traditionally invested heavily in both physical and functional customer experiences. The investments have resulted in brands that look, sound, smell and taste great. Furthermore, they have invested in building high quality products and delivering consistent, digitally-enabled services.

Despite the fact that physical and functional experiences are integral to a world-class customer experience, investments in emotional experience, the third and most critical component of a world-class customer experience, have been neglected. Over the past 5 years, Gallup’s Global Emotions Report has consistently indicated that nations in the Middle East are among the most emotional globally. To truly differentiate businesses need to focus on complementing their existing customer journeys by overlaying an emotional customer journey.

To build an emotional customer journey is to first and foremost add a genuine human facet to the brand with a focus on honesty and relevance. Common practices such as overstatements to close a sale or generic and un-customized responses to a complaint may offer short term gains in the form of improved quarterly sales and reduced operating costs but also result in long-term strategic damage to the brand.

Furthermore, a business’s talent is usually on the front line delivering most aspects of the end customer experience. Ensuring talent engagement, enablement and satisfaction will turn a business’ talent pool into brand ambassadors and entice them to deliver an outstanding experience. Customers will seldom emotionally buy into a brand if the brand’s own talent doesn’t.

Last but not least, businesses must build customer emotional management into their service delivery model. They must accept that it is not only about delivering a good product or service in a consistent manner. It’s also about orchestration and how everything comes together. Customers interacting with your business may become tense or frustrated at one of the key touchpoints. If left unaddressed or exacerbated by a subsequent actions, it will most certainly lead to churn and in today’s world a potential viral marketing catastrophe. If handled well, the emotional nature of the experience will contribute in transforming that customer into a brand ambassador.

In conclusion, I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!“ Maya Angelou.

By: Jad Baroudi, Manager, Consulting, Deloitte, Middle East