How To Measure Emotion In Customer Experience


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How To Measure Emotion In Customer Experience
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Customer experience experts have created measurement systems to track customer satisfaction, customer effort score and net promoter score. But there is one area that has been more difficult to translate into a simple metric. Customer Emotion. How do your customers actually feel? How do you measure emotion in customer experience?

The Importance of Emotion

A large amount of your customer experience is emotional. This can be both at a conscious level and subconscious. Throughout the customer journey your customers are having positive and negative emotional reactions. A great CX strategy will focus on creating an experience where the positive emotions outweigh the negative.

Competition is fiercer than ever with fewer barriers to entry. Just having a good product at a reasonable price is no longer enough. Customer experience is the new battleground and emotion should be your weapon of choice.

Valued = Loyal?

Emotion is a key element in customer loyalty. You need to make your customer feel confident, respected and valued. Equally you need to avoid emotions like annoyed, disappointed and frustrated.

74% of customers with positive emotions will advocate, while 63% will be retained.

Only 8% of customers with negative emotions will advocate for your company and only 13% will retain.

Customer emotions can affect not only whether you lose or keep customers but also if they will buy more or less from you. It can also dictate whether they will spread good or bad word of mouth about your company.

So clearly it is important to try and measure and understand your customers’ emotions. The question is how?

How To Measure Emotion In Customer Experience


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Most CX measurement programs don’t look to try and quantify emotions. In most cases they are focused on metrics that reflect a more rational evaluation of experiences. So, where do you start when looking to measure emotion?

Define Your Metrics

Start by defining the metrics that help measure critical emotions and experiences that have the biggest impact on your customer relationships. Once you have done that, you can then define the emotion metrics. Many companies start with metrics that measure positive or negative sentiments and tend to measure retrospectively rather than in real time.

In a perfect scenario you would measure emotion in real-time. Alongside tracking positive/ negative sentiments, you would also look at more discrete emotions.

You may focus on the percentage of customers with negative sentiment or the percentage of customers who feel a specific emotion.

Analyze Data

Think carefully about how you collect and analyze your emotion data. There are limitations with most survey types to correctly measure emotions with questions and scales. Companies should look to allow customers to actually select an emotion that best represents how they feel. Text analysis in unstructured feedback can also be used to identify emotions.

If you can track negative sentiment around a particular area of your service, then you can make improvements. You can then monitor if the sentiment improves and see the impact this has on your overall NPS.

Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions

One of the most popular approaches to classifying emotional responses was created in 1980 by Robert Plutchik. He believed there were eight primary emotions – anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust and joy.

Source: Wikipedia

Plutchik created his wheel using bipolar emotions; joy versus sadness; anger versus fear; trust versus disgust; and surprise versus anticipation. His wheel is similar to a colour wheel in that the emotions can be expressed at different intensities. They can also mix with each other to form different emotions.

You can either ask customers to choose from the range of emotions or use text analysis to link key phrases to emotions.

Make CX Improvements

Use your emotion metrics to drive customer experience improvements and prove the value of emotion measurements. If you are measuring emotions in real-time you can help internal stakeholders identify when experiences turn bad and give them a chance to salvage these experiences instantly.

So, Should YOU Ditch NPS?

If you are already measuring customer experience, chances are you are using a metric such as Net Promoter Score (NPS).

NPS is a great way of measuring your customer’s opinion of your customer experience. It can tell you how likely they are to recommend you to others. If a customer is willing to recommend you then clearly they have had a reasonable experience. However, by just measuring this one metric you are not getting the complete picture. Some organizations reach a plateau where they run out of the more obvious things to do to improve customer experience.

Measuring customer emotion, particularly in those micro moments, gives you a much deeper understanding of how your customer feels and gives you real insight into where you can make improvements.

Tracking NPS alongside customer emotion will help give you an overall view of how your customers feel while taking your analysis to the next level.

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. Hi Martin! You provide great thought and analysis on the importance of measuring a customer’s emotion, rather than just utilizing NPS or other forms of measurement. I completely agree that there are much deeper levels to customer’s emotions that will likely affect their experience and likelihood of retention. Most of the time I feel that NPS can be swayed because of the likelihood of customer’s with a negative experience filling out these types of surveys. A more comprehensive look, like you expressed would be ideal. Great read!

  2. The role of emotions in driving both memory and downstream advocacy behavior (a framework and a metric) is critical, but, would appreciate more clarity around how you define ‘advocacy’.

  3. Its not the emotions that matter but what they mean. I suggest reading standard appraisal theory before you go into this area. The biggest falsehood of CX is to separate emotion from cognition, worse use scale measures which conflate emotion with attitude.

    I also suggest reading Baumeister before using terms like ’emotion drives’…

  4. I like how you started out with defining the metrics that measure the emotions and experiences of your customer relationships. I feel like being able to track customer satisfaction is necessary for determining good metrics. I’ll have to share this with some of my colleagues.

  5. People love confirmation bias.
    I suggest reading Oatley, Baumeister or individuals who have spent their lives in cognitive psychology looking at the issue of emotions. I can most certainly send you some links.

  6. When customer feedbacks / reviews / comments are available, the easiest way to measure customer emotions is to use the emotional index and the platform developped by the company Q°emotion. We used it during 3 years for Toyota US, that helps us to improve the in-store experience (car dealer – network).
    pls. visit:


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