Emotion is all the rage in customer experience. As companies have realized that emotions trigger behavior, tools that collect and reportedly measure sentiment are cropping up everywhere. As many customer experience professionals know all too well, emotion is still a difficult parameter to measure accurately. Emotion is often missing from customer experience analysis. That’s a problem.

When a Swedish online clothing retailer noticed that their average age had crept down a few years and that customer behavior had changed, they launched a project to find out more. They were knee deep in customer data but it had not resulted in employee action. Using in depth, open interviews and a psycolinguistic approach to analysis, they found the customer journey was riddled with emotion. Their customer narratives found body image issues, strong values that repelled the fashion industry and hot-spots of shame. A customer group they assumed was interested in flowers and tea was more interested in hard work and entrepreneurship. This context made the customer journey immediately actionable and made sense of all the numbers. As the customer narrative spread within the organization, employees became engaged and creative. The customer journey has never been so action packed.

A recent study pointed out that 62% of companies identify lack of action connected to customer experience as their most pressing issue. I believe this is because employees lack context and emotional relatability. The Swedish example certainly suggests so.

Most customer experience programs aim to quantify subjective data: on a scale from 1-10, how would you describe your visit here today? Or simply: JKL. This simplification of emotion does little to quench the thirst for context. Often it adds a layer of stress and confusion on top of already hard working customer experience teams.

We already have an efficient way to express our emotions: words. There is no need to translate angry, sad, annoyed, frustrated, happy or thankful into a numeric code. Words describing emotions are the best clue we have in understanding why we do what we do. The more effort we put into listening to how customers feel about an interaction or the feeling they had when they came to an interaction, the deeper our understanding of behavior becomes.

So we need to listen to what our customers actually say instead of hiding behind questionnaires and surveys. We also need to understand what emotion is connected to what action in order to identify hotspots and predict reaction.

Finally, customer experience professionals have the task of communicating lively and emotion filled customer narratives to the rest of the organization. With these, organizations can build true understanding of the human nature of their customers and will be able to predict customers next moves.

Ingela Mauritzon,

Managing Partner


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