top of page

Emotional Affinity, Customer Service, and Collecting

When I was 12 years old, I discovered basketball cards, I loved them so much I collected over 5,000 of them in one summer. I grew up watching Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Once I started collecting, I had to have their rookie cards and then a card for every year after. I loved basketball and memorized all the statistics of every player in the league. In a weird geekish way, I ran fictitious leagues simulating all potential outcomes of every NBA game each year on Lotus 123.

Clearly, I had what Rachelle Dever, a thought leader in customer experience, calls “emotional affinity” with basketball. I recently attended a seminar where Dever explained that customers who have emotional affinity with a product or brand consider that product or brand essential to their daily lives. When I was 12, basketball was essential to my day-to-day living; I could not imagine a world without it. Collecting basketball cards was one of the many ways I incorporated basketball into my daily life.

All humans like to collect. Some people have card, coin, stamp, or picture collections. Others collect travel experiences, dolls, toys, electronics, video games. We all collect things we want to keep or believe are important. Sometimes we change our collecting habits, and companies like Collectorism help us trade out our old collections for new ones.

Collecting doesn’t have to be a tangible, physical habit. A recent craze with CryptoKitties, virtual kittens you can buy with cryptocurrency and then breed to create more kitties, is a stellar demonstration of how collecting is alive and growing in the virtual world. According to kittiesales, people sell their virtual kitten collections for meaningful money. One CryptoKitty recently sold for more than $170,000.

Virtual collecting is also very popular in mobile video games. Collecting is a main focus of Marvel Contest of Champions, where you try to “build your ultimate team of champions.” In Game of Thrones Conquest, you are daily collecting food, wood, ore, gold, and other advanced items in a quest to build the most dominant kingdom in Westeros. The NBA 2K brand allows you to collect virtual cards of your favorite players and then use them in the game to win rewards. Other games allow you to collect titles, points toward physical goods, status in the game, and many other items that players deem valuable enough to collect virtually. Millions of players collect billions of virtual items in these games every year.

With virtual collecting, companies are deeply involved in encouraging the collection habit and in managing an experience so that customers will want to collect their virtual goods for a lifetime. In mobile gaming, companies define the value of a player using a metric known as customer lifetime value, or customer LTV —a prediction of the profits the company will earn from all future interactions with a specific player. These companies don’t want you to stop collecting, and they want you to do all of your collecting in their game or brand.

As a CX leader in the video games space, my job is to remove roadblocks so that players can keep doing what they love—collecting things in their favorite game. It’s my job to ensure my games offer collection mechanisms and experiences that help players maintain and grow their emotional affinity with my products and brands. As I think about the impact my team can have on virtual collectors, it becomes evident that customer service has never been a more powerful tool in driving emotional affinity and supporting companies to give great collecting experiences to their customers.

As a fellow CX leader, what are you doing today to collect super fans, enable customers to believe you are essential to their day-to-day life, and deliver an amazing lifetime value for your customers and company?


Jerry Leisure is a passionate, high-energy, collaborative, and innovative customer experience leader and consultant with ~20 years’ experience in leading and guiding “Best in Class” organizations. He believes the key to all true customer experience success starts with the user experience and personal engagement, followed by an amazing set of technology capabilities.

104 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page