How To Map The Emotional Customer Experience

Most customer experience maps exclude one of the most important, most influential indicators related to driving loyalty, which is customer emotion.

Bored during Hurrican Irene, I was perusing Twitter updates and stumbled upon a link called “Mapping The Emotional Customer Experience”. I clicked to learn more, because the topic sounded intriguing. The related projects I had been involved in to date were all process or technically oriented and did not consider emotions or feelings.How To Map The Emotional Customer Experience | Image Courtesy Of Sujin Jetkasettakorn

I clicked on the link and spent quite awhile reading an article and then listening to a webinar called, “See What Your Customers See: Mapping Your Real Customer Experience” from Beyond Philosophy, a customer experience consulting firm with offices in the US and UK. It was fascinating content, which inspired this blog post.

A customer experience map is created to chart the customer experience from the beginning to the end of your buying process and the beginning to end (or ongoing) of your post purchase process. It considers all of the customer touch-points, messaging and activities.  The objective of creating this map or flow chart is to better understand what is working, what is not, and the areas of opportunity, so you can improve the customer experience and drive customer loyalty.

Per Beyond Philosophy, it is still essential to have the traditional, customer experience functional view because it provides the level of detail necessary to fully understand the customer experience. By contrast, “an emotional touch point map tells the story of the company/client interaction as the customer experiences it and helps point out what directly plays into the desires, fears and motivations of the customer”.Starbucks Emotional Customer Touch Point Map | Click Image To Enlarge

Why should we care? Many studies have shown that a customer’s emotional experiences have a much greater impact on their perception of your brand and brand’s value, than the functional ones.  You need to consider both, to understand the entire picture and make the right decisions to drive business results and improve customer loyalty.

Erik Berkman from Little Springs Designs created a very interesting example of an Emotional Customer Experience Map (click link or image to view PDF) about an experience at Starbucks Coffee.

In his March 2010 blog post, “Improving the Starbucks Experience”, he described in detail the process he used to analyze the experience of coffee drinking and identify the touch points that could be improved. Per Berkman, “each touch point has measurable qualities: emotional states, physical tasks, sensations and perceptions, and social interactions.”

The process Berkman used to create this map was to:

  • choose his environment
  • establish what to study and his goal
  • determine methods
  • observe/interact/record
  • represent the information collected on an experience map.

What did Berkman’s map determine? His personal customer experience was negative, but it was less about the coffee itself and more about the design of the store.

Have you used emotional touch point mapping in your business? What were the results? Please add your experiences to the comments sections.

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