Alternative Approaches to Understanding Customer Experience


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Those with some knowledge of Customer Experience will already be aware of the likes of NPS, CES and CSAT. But beyond these core metrics what other methods can be used to get a deeper understanding of how your customer feel?

In a time where companies are collecting more and more unstructured data on their customers it becomes essential to learn how to understand and use that data to improve your company.

Here are our alternative approaches to understanding customer experience.

The Joy of Text

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Taking core measurements gives you a great overall view of how your service is performing. As soon as you start to ask your customers open questions you begin to get better insight. The downside is that you also get large volumes of text. You will then need to translate these into trends/ categories and actions. This is a key element in understanding customer experience.

This is where text mining, or text analytics comes in. This is the process of categorizing unstructured text into patterns or trends. Allowing open questions can often improve respondent experience as you can present shorter surveys. It also allows you to find actionable insight in free form text and can provide a sense of scale through sentiment.

One of the other main benefits of this approach is that it can identity issues and problems that you were unaware of from structured feedback.

Feeling Sentimental

A key part of text mining is sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis is a process that can identify and categorize opinions expressed in text to determine if the overall attitude towards a specific topic is positive, negative or neutral. Opinions are central to almost all human activities and are key influencers in our behaviour. The choices that we make are largely conditioned by how others see and evaluate the world. So when it comes to making a decision, individuals and organizations will often seek out the opinion of others.

Being able to analyse large amounts to text to establish a general feeling towards your company is a great way of seeing the overall opinions that exist out there.

Social Scraping

Designed by Freepik

Social media scraping also falls under sentiment analysis. There are now huge amounts of people talking about your company and manually monitoring these channels has become increasingly difficult. Scraping mentions of your brand and applying sentiment analysis allows you to see broader trends of how your company is being received. It can also assist with identifying any key issues.

You may see a surge in social mentions as a positive sign that your exposure is increasing – but if the overwhelming sentiment is negative then clearly you need to take action to address this.

Employee Engagement

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Which came first the chicken or the egg? Well we don’t know but what we do know is that both are required for each to exist. The same principle could be applied to customer experience and employee experience. To achieve great customer experience, your employees need to have an equally good experience.

Happy customers = happy employees. Happy employees = good customer experience.

Employee experiences need to be aligned with customer experiences so that the employee truly understands what experience the business wants to deliver. Measuring your employee engagement alongside your customer experience ratings will give you a great overview of how the two are related and the direct implications of improving one or both elements.

Emotion – The New Thinking

Designed by Freepik

There are three main components of a customer experience.

1. Success – the degree that a customer is able to accomplish their goals
2. Effort – how easy/ hard is it for them to accomplish their goals
3. Emotion – how did they feel about that interaction

Companies have successfully found ways to measure success and effort. They can often be found through scaled questions and customers can apply logic to give a rating. Companies can then improve these aspects based on the information received. Emotion, however, is not as simple to measure and understand.

Mark Twain once said “All emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary.” A customers’ immediate emotional reaction is perhaps the most honest. They have not had time to analyse or censor themselves. So to get the truest understanding of customer emotion you need to measure how they feel in real-time.

Ask yourself how do you want your customer to feel when interacting with your company? Less than 1 in 4 companies are rated as good at measuring customer emotion. Yet there is more and more research suggesting positive emotion has the highest impact on loyalty.

Customers who have positive emotions are more likely to:

• trust the company
• purchase more from the company
• forgive the company if it makes a mistake
• try a new offering.

Measuring Emotion

Designed by EgudinKa at Shutterstock

So we know that measuring customer emotion is important but how do you actually go about doing it?

Firstly, try to look beyond the current questions and scales you might be using. Why not specifically ask the customer how they feel or ask them to select from a list of emotions? You could take this a step further and use visual options so the customer can select the image or emoji that best suits how they feel. This allows the customer to express their emotion while still keeping to a pre-defined scale allowing for easier analysis.

Also try to link emotional responses to specific points in the customer journey. If you can identify when experiences are deteriorating, then you have a chance at finding ways to salvage that experience in real-time.

Martin Powton
I have over 13 years' experience in digital marketing and am interested in all areas of marketing, customer experience and employee wellbeing.


  1. Agree Martin. NPS etc. are fine as a barometer of performance at that moment in time but don’t give a ‘real’ picture of what’s going on. To diagnose and understand you need to go much deeper as you suggest

  2. We need to be thinking of voice-of-the-customer in new ways that better reflect natural conversation instead of putting the customer in the shoes of a supervisor essentially. I’m glad to see these ideas for making use of text feedback from customers.

    My latest article, 5 Radical Changes to VoC of the Future for ROI Maturity, recommends that we make it as natural as possible for customers to give us feedback anytime, anywhere, any way they want.

    For employee engagement, I’ve found that employees’ involvement in making a difference for customers gives higher purpose and longer lasting results for all parties. Hire, onboard, train, promote, recognize and reward employees within the context of what matters most to customers. That’s customer-centric culture.


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