Apple and JetBlue Focus on Customer Emotion—and So Should You

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If the customer experience (CX) efforts of most companies continue down the path they're on, they're likely to fail. Why? Because these efforts often ignore a critical component: emotion. Some companies get it. Amazon, Apple, and JetBlue all score well in Temkin Group's Emotion Ratings. That they're also wildly successful is no coincidence.

Every time customers interact with your company, their experience is perceived along three dimensions: (1) success, or what they can accomplish; (2) effort, or how hard or easy it is for them to accomplish it; and (3) emotion, or how they feel about an interaction. To fully understand your customers' experience, you must focus on all three.


In Temkin Group Research's "State of CX Metrics 2015" report, nearly 200 respondents from large companies rated their organizations' ability to measure different elements of CX. Here are the results:

• Forty-nine percent are "good" or "very good" at measuring success.

• Forty-two percent are "good" or "very good" at measuring effort.

• Twenty-six percent are "good" or "very good" at measuring emotion.

Comparing results from the previous year, the ability to measure success improved, but the ability to measure effort and emotion stayed the same. To recap: Companies are about twice as effective measuring success as they are measuring emotion, and nearly three quarters of organizations are not good at measuring emotion.

This shouldn't be a surprise. Most professionals have worked on projects with functional requirements (which generally define the success criteria), but how many of you have been involved with projects that define emotional requirements? How many discussions have you had in your organization about your customers' emotions? I'm guessing that the answer is close to "none."


Emotion should clearly be considered, but to what degree? Another Temkin report, "ROI of Customer Experience 2015," examined the connection between CX and loyalty for 10,000 U.S. consumers and nearly 300 companies across 20 industries. The correlation between the Temkin Experience Ratings (a metric that combines success, effort, and emotion) and the likelihood consumers will repurchase was very high (a Pearson correlation of 0.84, if you're wondering).

It was interesting to look at the relationship between loyalty and each component of CX; strikingly, emotion had a more significant connection to all measures of loyalty we examined, including these:

Buying more. Eight-seven percent of consumers who gave a high rating for emotion were likely to make multiple purchases, compared to 13 percent of those who gave a low rating. That 74-percentage-point gap exceeds the one for success (66) and effort (67).

Recommending to friends. Seventy-six percent of consumers who gave a high rating for emotion were promoters, compared to 6 percent of those who gave a low rating. That 70-point gap exceeds the one for success (58) and effort (61).

Forgiving. Sixty-three percent of consumers who gave a high emotion rating were likely to forgive a company's mistakes, compared to 11 percent of those giving a low rating. That 52-point gap exceeds the one for success (42) and effort (45).

Clearly, improving the emotional component of CX pays dividends. Just take a look at the Temkin Emotion Ratings (a subset of the Temkin Experience Ratings): Besides Amazon, Apple, and JetBlue, the leaders include Chick-fil-A, Lexus, and PetSmart. These companies understand the importance of forging an emotional bond with customers.

Here are a few tips to help get you started doing likewise. First, talk about customers' emotions. We need to get more comfortable dealing with the topic. Make customer emotions a regular and integral part of customer experience discussions. Second, do more qualitative research. Analytics are important, but emotion often gets lost when our focus turns to percentages and statistical significance. And finally, focus on the customer journey. Keep in mind that customers often have more important goals than just completing an interaction.

Bruce Temkin is customer experience transformist and managing partner of Temkin Group, a research and consultancy firm focused on enterprise-wide customer experience transformation. He is also the chair and cofounder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org) and author of the blog Customer Experience Matters.

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