Measuring emotion?

The always interesting ecustomerserviceworld newsletter (I think that link is valid for two weeks) talks about Gallup’s survey methods.

One Gallup study demonstrated that a mid-sized bank could add $256 million to its total of customer balances on deposit by drawing higher (emotional) attachment scores from 50 000 customers.

Reading this reminds me of Denis Healey’s comment about watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff… in your new car.

Should I be glad that here is some ammunition to show companies that emotions matter?

Or frustrated, because this is such a specious figure?

I tend to the latter. I question the idea that intangibles can be measured in this way. In life, much is unknowable and we must continuously use judgement and intution to progress. We don’t really need statistics to be good at dealing with people. Instead of spending a lot of money on measurements like this, I’d suggest a company spend more time really talking to its customers. Not “surveying” them.

Some will say, ah yes, but these figures are useful for dealing with hard-nosed businessmen who only value things with a price on them. That’s a classic shadow conversation. To the extent I want to engage with this, my guess is this: a businessman who doesn’t believe in valuing feelings isn’t going to look at this figure, having a damascene conversion and suddenly decide to be emotionally intelligent.

[UPDATE] Tom Guarriello expands on this theme with his usual eloquence:

Not that these experiences can’t be described empirically, just that they can’t be reduced to numbers and still retain their human qualities, which is, after all, what all of us are interested in learning about.

2 thoughts on “Measuring emotion?

  1. The TrueTalk Blog

    Reductio Ad Nauseum

    Johnnie Moore’s post today and the buzz surrounding Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink focus on an old problem: logical positivism. What’s that? Well, basically an approach to reality that says, “if I can’t measure it, it’s not real.” And, of course, numbers

  2. Evelyn Rodriguez

    Johnnie, I agree with you on the shadow stuff. Many folks don’t want to talk about the emotional touchy-feely stuff themselves and citing that “THEY” won’t buy into it is often a good cover. I think the most succesful executives clearly have an ease with people that certainly doesn’t arise simply from pain-staking, rational analysis.


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