How To Map The Emotional Journey Of Your Customer Experience


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Source: Wizu

Emotion plays an integral part in any customer journey with customers going through a range of positive and negative emotional reactions. To offer a good customer experience you need to ensure the positive emotions outweigh the negative. The question is how you can identify what these emotions are and when they occur during the customer journey.

Why Emotions Matter

Customer experience is becoming the main battleground between competitors and emotion is a powerful weapon. Customer emotion can impact on customer loyalty, order value and whether your customers are spreading good or bad word of mouth about your company.

A study by Oracle found 74% of customers with positive emotions will advocate for you while only 8% of customers with negative emotions will. When we are going through an experience we are not thinking in terms of metrics we are living the experience. We are thinking about how we feel. Excited about placing an order, frustrated at trying to find information, anticipation about something being delivered, angry while waiting in a phone queue to report an issue.

At the end of that experience if someone just asks you to leave a rating between 1 and 10 does that really tell you everything you need to know about the ups and downs of that experience? Customer experience metrics like NPS are great for identifying overall trends but they cannot identify how the customer truly feels during the experience and uncover the negative emotional points that could decide if this customer will return or not.

According to Forrester, there are three factors that drive customer loyalty – non-CX factors, Rational CX and Emotional CX. Emotional CX is the primary influencer, stronger than the other two combined. The US 2017 Customer Experience Index showed that though many brands are focused on the execution part of their work, customers actually want more of the emotions side of it.

Cliff Condon, Chief Research and Product Officer at Forrester, said: “If brands want to break away from the pack and become CX leaders, they must focus on emotion. Best-in-class brands average 17 emotionally positive experiences for every negative experience, while the lowest-performing brands provided only two emotionally positive experiences for each negative one. Emotion is critical to a brand’s bottom line. For example, the TV service provider industry had the largest percentage of customers who felt annoyed of any industry in the study. Among those annoyed customers, only 17% plan to stay with the brand, 12% plan to increase their spending, and 11% will advocate for the brand. A large TV service provider leaves $104 million on the table for every one-point decline in its CX Index score. “

How To Measure Emotion In Customer Experience

Measuring emotions can be difficult but there are a number of ways you can start to identify the common emotions that your customers feel. You could offer a range of emotions and ask your customer to choose the one that most closely matches how they feel. You could also track sentiments from open text responses to not only identify how someone feels but the specific area they are talking about when they express that emotion.

You might be concerned that there is such a wide range of emotions available that it will be difficult to categorise these in any meaningful way that will make sense to you and your customers. However, one of the most popular approaches to classifying emotional responses was created by Robert Plutchik in 1980. He believed there are eight primary emotions – anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust and joy.

His ‘Wheel of Emotion’ allows emotions to be expressed at different intensities or for a combination of emotions to form different emotions. By allowing customers to choose from these range of emotions you can identify the intensity of how they feel and even derived emotions that might be occurring subconsciously. You can also start to build out intelligent text analytics that will map key phrases to emotions to allow customers to express their feelings more openly while still connecting to the wheel to identify the relevant emotions.

How To Map The Emotional Journey

So you have identified how you want to measure emotions but the key is to identify where they occur in the customer journey. If someone expresses anger the only way you can really deal with that is to pin point where that anger occurred and try to remove it. There are a number of ways you can try to achieve this.

Continuous Feedback

You can try and offer an ‘Always On’ feedback system that allows your customer to engage with you throughout the customer journey. This allows them to provide feedback at various stages in the experience rather than just express how they feel at the end of the journey. This will allow you to map the emotional journey throughout the experience and identify when the negative emotions are occurring.

Customer Journey Surveys

Another alternative that is less reliant on the customer needing to keep coming back to provide feedback is to improve your post experience survey to actually take the customer back through the journey they have just completed. Identify key touch points in the journey and ask the customer to express how they felt at each stage. This allows you to create a chart that can track how they felt at each stage helping you identify both the positive and negative peaks.

Intelligent Text Analytics

Rather than separating out the customer journey you could set up common topics and map these to journey touch points. This way a customer can more openly talk about their experience but the areas they mention can be automatically assigned to key touch points. If someone has been on a holiday there are key areas in the customer journey from booking the holiday, traveling there, checking in, the service during the holiday and the return journey etc. By mapping common terms to these points of the journey you can start to piece together the journey and overlay the emotions being expressed at each stage.



There are a number of ways you can begin to measure emotion in customer experience and start to map these to customer journey touch points. No matter how you approach this it is essential you start to track customer emotions as they can provide so much more insight that a rating will ever provide. Metrics such as Net Promoter Score will always have a place in customer experience and allow you to see a more universal view of your performance. If you can start to track the emotional journey of your customer and improve the negative peaks you can directly see how this impacts on your overall NPS rating and how this impacts on your business KPI’s. This ultimately will allow you to start to calculate an ROI based on emotions, showing just how powerful delivering a positive emotional customer experience can be.

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. No mention of neuromarketing techniques to measure emotions? A missed opportunity methinks…

  2. There are some fantastic AI-powered software tools out there now that can use NLP to automatically detect and categorise customer emotions.
    We’ve used it in healthcare to map the emotions within a patient journey, as well as applying it to employee experience – pinpointing the emotions across different job roles, geographies, training levels, etc.
    Hugely insightful, super quick, just needs a degree of researcher moderation to help the AI learn the specifics of a particular industry sector or disease area.

  3. NLP? That has nothing to do with neuromarketing. NLP and neuroscience and not connected. If what you say is true please provide links or even one link of peer reviewed academic research backing up your claim AI powered tools can use NLP to accurately measure emotion.

  4. Hi Robin – I think you might be confusing Neuro-linguistic programming with what I was referring to?
    My comment was about Natural Language Processing, which is a well established branch of AI, and for which there are plenty of case studies for identifying and categorising emotions – not least our own work!

  5. We capture emotion in customer journey research every week. Qualitatively and quantitatively, ranging from shop-alongs to IDI’s to biometric and eye-tracking capture to facial recognition. Online digital experiences, in-store retail experiences and phone experiences with voice analysis.

    It isn’t that hard – and incredibly insightful. Why is this such a tough problem for the industry?

    Greg Tucker

  6. Hi,

    I confirm that tools like Q°emotion or NICE are using emotional analytics to capture emotions in customer journeys. is a platform based uniquely on verbatim, reviews and survey comments that detect primary emotions in the customer experience and client journey. Easy to set up. is also proposing such features in their cx platform.

    Best regards


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