How to capture customer emotion and build it into your journey map
One of the most important tasks that a customer journey map must perform is representing the emotional state of the customer. While it is vital to accurately reflect the behavioural elements of the customer along their journey, a crucial part of the picture is missing unless emotion is also baked into the map.
Steve Offsey, VP marketing of Pointillist, explains: “The emotions customers have while interacting with your brand are correlated to their future behaviors—and those behaviors directly impact business growth. Customer expectations for their interactions with brands are becoming increasingly demanding and less forgiving, as more and more companies are delivering customer experiences that truly make their customers’ lives better. Journey maps are an effective tool for communicating this information within and across an organisation, as they can raise customer emotions at key points in their journey to the forefront.”
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Jeannie Walters, a customer experience speaker and writer, and founder of 360Connext, adds: “By understanding the triggers of emotions, organisations can look for ways to make moments of truth either a moment of delight or an easier situation for the customers. Identifying the points of disappointment, frustration or lack of empathy is the first step to improving those trigger points in the journey.”
But the process of representing emotion in customer journey maps isn’t without its challenges. For a start, accurately capturing the emotional state of the customer along their various pathways on the journey can be problematic. As Walters notes: “Customers can share their emotions if asked… but sometimes can’t tell us what they are truly feeling in the moment.”
So how can customer emotions be accurately captured?
Qualitative and quantitative research
Emotions can be captured using a range of qualitative and quantitative research techniques.
“Qualitative research is an excellent way to capture in-the-moment emotions—positive, neutral, or negative—at different touchpoints along the journey,” says Offsey. “It helps you capture the intensity of those emotions and the behaviours they drive, which will help you assess which touchpoints are really ‘make or break’ moments.
“Qualitative research helps you understand your customers’ emotions by placing their reactions to their experiences in the context of their overarching goals, and by enabling you to capture positive and negative emotions in their interactions with your brand as they happen. This way you discover which elements of the experience matter.”
Some of the key qualitative journey research methods include:
- Contextual interviews.
- Observational interviews.
- Digital diary studies.
- Focus groups.
- Community boards.
As well as qualitative approaches, there are also quantitative ones that can be applied.
“Although quantitative approaches are often used by researchers to back up qualitative insights with ‘hard data,’ they are a powerful way to learn what customers ‘are really doing’ and prioritise which areas of the journey are critical for deeper exploration,” explains Offsey.
Quantitative research methods include:
- Surveys (email, online, in-person, intercept).
- CSAT and Net Promoter Score (NPS) assessments.
- A/B tests.
- Eye-tracking, in-store tracking.
- Via reporting from frontline staff.
Customer journey analytics is another quantitative approach that is becoming increasingly popular.
“Customer journey analytics is an approach that analyses customer behaviours and motivations across touchpoints and over time to optimise customer interactions and predict future behaviour,” says Offsey. “Customer journey analytics can reveal which stages of your customers’ experience matter most. This way, your survey can ask your customers to rate or describe their emotional reaction to that particular area of their experience.”
Building emotion into map
Once the data around emotion has been captured, there are then a variety of ways in which emotion can be represented on a journey map.
Some maps are very specific about customer’s emotions. For example, you might see words like frustrated, confused, delighted, impressed, and so on. Some maps use simple conventions like happy/neutral/sad or positive/neutral/negative.
One organisation that uses this last approach is Strativity.
Peter Haid, director of Strativity's journey mapping practice, explains there are so many emotions, and humans can feel several emotions all at once, it is important to simplify it for the map. "The key is to find out if the emotions are driving actions because that’s where customers make decisions,” he says.
To make it simple, Strativity uses five categories of emotion: Positive Active, Positive Passive, Neutral, Negative Passive, and Negative Active.
The key is to find out if the emotions are driving actions because that’s where customers make decisions.
Haid continues: “As an example, returning a broken product is negative active (there is an action) but keeping a broken product is negative passive (unaddressed frustration).
“The solution for these emotions is different because one is reactive (return product with apology) and one is proactive (engaging customers who keep broken products). Active emotions are prime for triage while passive emotions are prime for discovery. The point is that you’ll have a clear five point scale (and curve) on where you need to repair or promote a journey’s emotion.”
Typically, Haid explains, a journey map is made up of touchpoints placed into different columns for key stages in the journey. Each touchpoint should be assigned an emotion from the five point scale. A simple line chart can follow underneath all of the sequential touchpoints on the map. The five point scale on a Y axis, from top to bottom, is: Positive Active, Positive Passive, Neutral, Negative Passive, and Negative Active. The x axis is the touchpoints aligned into their key stages.
Maps that include quantitative measurements of emotions might use scores, scales or graphs. Maps can also use icons, visuals, words and phrases to represent emotional stages throughout the journey.
Walters notes: “It all depends on the map, of course, but sharing real customer quotes, recordings, images or videos can be very effective in sharing emotions. Using simple graphics like emoticons or temperature gauges help those using the map see the patterns of the highs and lows of the emotional journey of the customers.”
Offsey adds: “Every map should include an experience evaluation that identifies the points in the customer journey that are creating friction and those that are delighting your customers. Some maps use visual approaches, or experience ratings to clearly communicate the friction and delight points in the customers’ journey. One way to highlight those points is to use a convention that explicitly labels them as pain points and delight points.
“Moments of truth are those make or break moments in the customer journey. Identifying moments of truth highlights which of those touchpoints are the most important to optimize for your customer. This provides a lens through which you can prioritize investment in the most important touchpoints in the journey.”
Offsey also suggests that it is helpful to include other types experience evaluation in combination with emotions. Examples of this include:
- Importance of a touchpoint, tool or resource.
- Satisfaction with a touchpoint, tool or resource.
- Measure of how much effort a customer had to exert to accomplish a goal relative to how much effort they expected to exert.
- Measure of how much time it took customers to accomplish a goal relative to how much time they expected it to take.
“No matter how you represent customer emotions in your journey map, the key is to capture emotional experience data and visually represent it in your map in a way that’s easy to understand and impactful,” says Offsey.
He concludes: “Capturing your customers’ emotions in your journey map is essential for any organisation trying to improve customer experience and measure it in a meaningful way. The qualitative and quantitative methods discussed can help you:
- Ensure that you are investing in customer experience from your customer’s point of view rather than an internal point of view.
- Engage with customers at the most critical times in their journeys with an optimal message that connects emotionally and is delivered through their preferred channel.
- Gain executive buy-in by moving beyond gut feel to prioritize customer experience improvement opportunities and create a direct link between customer behavior and business outcomes.”
Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.