The emotional piece of the customer experience

April 21, 2010

In an earlier post (October 26, 2009) I introduced our taxonomy – i.e. classification – of customer experiences  that we use to deconstruct a customer’s interactions with a product or service and the company that provides it:

One thing we left hanging was why we highlighted the last element – the emotional component – by coloring it in red.  I’d like to address that here.

Why does the emotional component stand out?

We believe the emotional experience is the most important element in the taxonomy because it dramatically colors and shapes a customer’s overall response to your company and your offerings – both in the B-to-C and the B-to-B worlds – often overwhelming everything else.  Reflect back on the last time you talked to a customer about their experiences with your products and services. Didn’t you hear the emotions they felt – both good and bad – come through loud and clear  often drowning out what else they had to say. Haven’t we all personally experienced the old salesman’s adage – “people buy emotionally and then justify logically!”  And on a quantitative note we have survey data from Colin Shaw of BeyondPhilosphy that shows emotions account for more than 50% of the customer experience. Just think of the impact that an emotionally negative (e.g.  “irritating” or even “enraging”) interaction somewhere along the experience cycle can have on how a customer feels about you and how they do business with your company in the future – no matter how well you meet defined product specifications.

In addition, every meaningful interaction or experience a customer has with your company and its offerings will generate an emotional response be it good, bad or indifferent – i.e. the emotional component is always at play no matter which of the other five components are. In fact we argue that the other five experiential components are just triggers that interact with the customer’s mental mindset and expectations to create the emotional response. 

[Note that in his book The DNA of Customer Experience Colin Shaw identified twenty emotions grouped into four clusters that have been “independently and statistically proven to impact customers’ short-term spend, and drive or destroy loyalty” at the company/business or brand level. Many of these are included in our graphic below.]

Now what do we do about it?

Well if the customer’s emotional experience is so critical to their overall response to you and your offerings how do you go about optimizing it? Product developers – particularly on the B-to-B side – are used to looking at “hard” characteristics like product features and technical specifications and are often not used to addressing “soft” items like emotional response. But there are frameworks and tools that can be used to help make the emotional element “hard”.

First I’d like to share a concept that Colin Shaw introduced to the customer experience community – i.e. separating emotions into two piles: “value-destroying” ones (which hurt you with customers) and “value-driving” or as I like to say “value-creating” ones (which help you with customers).  We illustrate this concept graphically below where we show a number of specific emotions – out of the hundreds of emotions that have been identified – as examples.

So clearly a key first step in bringing the customer’s emotional experience into the product development process is to analyze for the value-destroying and value-creating emotions at play all along the entire customer experience cycle in the market spaces of interest. And there are a number of  available customer probing tools to meet this need -see graphic below and our last post.

With a set of key emotional drivers in hand the development team is now positioned to start to design a winning customer emotional experience by analyzing for the triggers of the existing value-destroying emotions and eliminating them and by analyzing for and designing-in the triggers of the value-creating ones that are not in place. In later posts we will describe some tools and approaches to accomplish this.

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2 Responses to “The emotional piece of the customer experience”

  1. Sandeep Pandey Says:

    A Very Valuable content on customer service and the Value of Intrinsic Marketing which appeals customers emotions


  2. […] The way your customers feel about your brand is vital to your company’s success. (Image Source) […]


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