Mapping the Customer Journey From Effort to Emotion

Among the many measures of U.S. corporate performance is topple rate, or the rate at which groups of leading companies in industries or market indexes changes over time. Multiple studies have found that the topple rate has never been higher and, as a result, increasing numbers of top companies face obsolescence. This reality is commonly caused by a company’s product or service losing relevance, but it can also be a consequence of customer experience offerings failing to match the changing times. Consequently, the digital component of the customer experience has never been more critical to success.

In today’s hyper-connected marketplace, the digital customer experience is broadly acknowledged as being critical to customer engagement and satisfaction. However, enterprises are only now starting to map the contours of customer experience and how it will impact global business in the near future. Let’s take a look at how the effort and emotion associated with customer experience shape the perception of the enterprise, ultimately evolving to a systemic model integrating effort and emotion into the design of a better customer experience. 

First, let’s note that transaction-led interactions should not be considered the only enterprise-critical customer experience. As an example, for a customer planning a vacation, evaluating vacation packages before actually buying one is an information-led experience or interaction that may lead to a future transaction. Each time a customer uses an interface to give feedback on that vacation package, either on social media or on the company’s digital asset, an interaction is presented that could affect other potential customers’ transaction decisions. Each interaction has an associated effort—effort representing the mind-space a customer dedicates to the task of interacting with the enterprise. The outcome of each interaction leads to either a positive or negative emotion. In our holiday package example, easily available information, a hassle-free booking experience, or a simple feedback mechanism is likely to produce positive emotions at the end of the effort.

While some may vigorously contend that the journey of effort to emotion is solely reserved for the B2C scenario, reality shows that we sell to human beings who are fraught with emotion, regardless of whether they buy collaboratively or individually. The B2B customer journey may not be as readily visualized, but the interchange of collective emotion among the decision makers remains the same as in a B2C scenario. B2B customer experience design must account for the collective effort required to create the experience across teams—including procurement and finance, as well as end users and other stakeholders—while making these interactions result in positive emotion in the target individuals.

Media proliferation has created a new reality: The amount of effort a customer is willing to put into an enterprise interaction is decreasing significantly. If vacation package information does not instantly load on a customer’s mobile device, the customer is likely to choose a competing option much faster than in the past. Additionally, the potential impact of the resulting emotion on an enterprise has dramatically increased through a single customer’s power to influence others’ purchase decisions. Today’s always-on availability of digital and social channels enables emotion to be amplified instantly.

So can you navigate the tricky path of effort to positive emotion in the design of customer experience? The answer is yes, and the solution can be found in effective engagement that guides a customer from feeling the need to interact with an organization to feeling overwhelmingly positive about the interaction.

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