How to build Emotions into Customer Journey Mapping


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For ten years Beyond Philosophy has been advocating that emotions account for over half of a Customer Experience. We are very pleased that this seems to becoming more accepted. I am often asked how an emotion is evoked. This is quite complex but I thought I would try and outline some headlines here. I recently came across this video by Antonio Damasio one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject on emotions.

Over millennia, humans have developed a complex set of emotions to help us deal with our environment. For example, have you ever had the feeling that something is wrong as you walk down a darkly lit street? This is your subconscious mind gathering many signals such as – it’s late at night, the area is rough, you heard something behind you, or maybe you recall a news item of a mugging in a similar area. Our subconscious mind gathers these facts and the emotion of ‘fear’ is generated. As you ‘feel’ this emotion you ‘decide’ to stop walking down the street. This all happens in a split second. Therefore emotions can be generated by seeing subconscious signals.

So what has this to do with the Customer Experience? The answer is everything. Organizations create a subconscious experience for customers every day, which can evoke emotions including frustration, mistrust and feeling ‘valued’. It is important that when undertaking Customer journey mapping you understand the ‘decision’ that a Customer takes is sometimes an automatic response, not a cognitive thought. The decision is ‘programed’. Damasio uses the example of walking to a cliff’s edge. We don’t have to consciously say stop, we stop ‘automatically’ as we are programmed to see the danger and take the action. As Damasio also outlined, the action could be for an opportunity. If we are hungry for food or if we are attracted to someone and we then start changing our body language without even knowing we are!

So how do you apply this to Customer Experience? Let’s assume you wish your Customers to feel ‘cared for’ by your organization. What signals are you currently giving that are opposite to this? What conscious and subconscious signals can you design into your Customer journey map to evoke this as a deliberate emotional experience? We use a process called Moment Mapping® and have been for the past ten years, which we talk about in a webinar called ‘See What Your Customers See: Mapping Your Real Customer Experience‘.

We would therefore advocate that when you are undertaking journey mapping that you are only looking at the rational side of the Customer Experience then you are looking at the action, the symptom, not the cause, the emotion. To really affect your Customer Experience you must undertake journey mapping at this deeper level, it is vital that you look at the rational, emotions and subconscious experience.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


  1. With the shift to digital channels, how do you suggest that companies create emotions? Any good examples of companies that excel?

  2. Bob,

    Customers are creating emotions in their digitial channel at the moment, the issue is they aren’t always positive!

    The first bit of advice I would give if they need to think about it. I don’t think many people think of hiow to design in emotions in an online or offline expereince. The second thing is to define the emotions you want to evoke. The third area is then building this into the design. For example. If you want people to trust make sure your return’s policy shows you trust customers. Make sure you are transparency will evoke feelings of safety. Being upfront on the ‘small print’. No big surprised at the end of the buying process. Who does it well? Amazon, BBC… then I struggle…Any suggestions from readers?



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