• March 1, 2021
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Shift How You Think About Emotion and Journeys

Companies must understand how to design for emotion to create meaningful customer journeys, but many companies get emotion wrong by only equating it with delight rather than building an experience on a broad spectrum of emotion in mind, Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst Joana de Quinanilha stated in a recent report.

Great experience, she said, maintains an optimal ratio of positive to negative emotions that shapes memory.

"We know customer journeys matter. We know emotion matters. It's time to bring these two together and use journeys to design for the full scope of emotion," she said.

To stress the impact of emotion, she said it is the primary driver of customer loyalty, that it accounts for nearly half of all brand energy, and that it is one of the key functional aspects of customer experiences, alongside price and fit.

To start, de Quintanilha said, the first step is to understand the emotional makeup of journeys, which she said is divided into three components: the baseline, curve, and punch.

The baseline is the emotion with which people arrive. The curve is the emotional arc of the journey. The punch is the story customers tell themselves (and others), the scripts they write to make sense of the experience they had.

To reach the baseline, de Quintanilha suggests redesign the start of the experiences based on customers' emotions. When designing for a high-anxiety journey like buying a home, make sure to reassure the customer early on. Use checklists and be clear about what the customer can expect. Do not jump the gun when it comes to calls to action in the first stages of the journey.

If you are designing for a high-confidence journey like buying pet food, cut to the chase about things like features and packaging size.

To hit customers during the curve, de Quintanilha suggests fine-tuning the most memorable and impactful moments. Pay attention to the functional things that drive emotion. If customer experiences are mostly neutral and devoid of peaks, seek to arouse states such as wonder, pride, and delight. Look for the make-or-break moment that is derailing your journey and monitor whether your tolerable lows remain tolerable.

During the punch, she said companies first need to know when the punch really happens. The end of an experience can make up for the peak's shortcomings or undermine its positive effects, depending on how it’s handled. And remember that most journeys are ongoing, so think carefully about opportunities to reengage customers.

"Go back to your journey maps and journey data visualizations to zoom in on what the customer is seeing and doing and look at your journeys through the lens of emotion and the baseline, curve, and punch," de Quintanilha said. "Companies that go the extra mile to understand the baseline, curve, and punch of key journeys and apply those learnings broadly across the organization will pull ahead of the competition and drive true differentiation."

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