I’m a firm believer that a customer experience is driven largely by emotions, which is something that Beyond Philosophy has been advocating for years. Thankfully, the vital role of emotion in the customer journey – from an unknown to a loyal customer and purchaser – is now finally being recognised, but how to actually stir up these emotions can prove trickier for brands.


In a bid to explore how emotion is evoked, I thought I’d outline a classic situation that is driven by the complex emotions that humans have been developing over thousands of years….


You’re walking down a dimly lit street and get the sense that something’s awry. This is your subconscious gathering numerous signals from around you; it’s late, you don’t know the area, you can hear rubbish scuffling behind you and maybe you heard about a robbery nearby a few weeks ago. With all of these impressions combined, your body generates the emotion of ‘fear’, the feeling of which leads you to ‘decide’ to change your route. So, subconscious signals generate emotion within a split second.


In this scenario, it is the decision to change direction that drives an action and a result. Brands must understand this all-important moment of ‘emotional decision’ when mapping the customer journey to purchase. Sometimes, actions aren’t driven by a cognitive thought, but are an instinctive response.


Antonio Damasio is one of the world’s leading authorities on emotions, and this video is worth a read when it comes to establishing the link between action and emotion. He uses the example of walking to the edge of a cliff. When we sense the danger, we stop ‘automatically’ because we sense the threat and act on it. The same goes for body language: when we’re bored or attracted to someone we often change our behaviour without even realising.


So back to creating a valuable customer experience: what can brands do?


Customer experience has everything to do with emotion. Brands can create subconscious signals through the online or physical environment they create, leading consumers to feel frustrated, misled or valued, for example.


Assuming businesses want their customers to feel valued, they need to take a step back and see what signals they’re sending out, and which positive signals could improve the emotional customer experience and ultimately lead to positive actions. This can be through thoughtful phrasing, calls to action, colour, timely customer support and a personal touch in customer service, to name a few ‘markers’.


Mapping the customer experience in this way, rather than just logging actions without consideration, is something we call Moment Mapping®. This involves analysing actions, then symptoms and then the emotions behind it. This three-layered approach to customer experience is vital if you want to actually impact your customers’ decisions and create positive experiences with the brand.


Colin Shaw is CEO and founder of Beyond Philosophy. A pioneer of the customer experience industry, Shaw has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands including American Express, FedEx, IBM, Caterpillar and Maersk Line. Shaw is recognised by LinkedIn as one of the world's top 150 business influencers and is the author of four books about customer experience.

Colin Shaw will be speaking at the annual Net Promoter Conference hosted at the Chelsea Football Club, London, from 10-11th September 2014. For information and to purchase tickets, please visit:

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