Do you know how your customers feel about their experiences with your firm? Customers’ emotions can damage — or improve — customers’ perception of the overall experience and your firm’s ability to grow. Customers’ emotions affect whether you’ll lose or keep them, whether they will buy more or less from you, and whether they will spread good or bad word of mouth about your company.

In a recent episode of CX Cast, I spoke about how to measure emotions in customer experience. For detailed insights, check out my report, How To Measure Emotion In Customer Experience (subscription required).

Early on in my research, I found that most current CX measurement programs don’t quantify customers’ emotions. Instead, they focus almost exclusively on metrics that reflect a rational or cognitive evaluation of experiences. Measuring emotions — and making sense of all of the tools and methods that claim to do just that — is hard. What’s more, a deep-seated skepticism about the trustworthiness of emotion measurement prevails in organizations — making it harder to get buy-in for emotion metrics.

But you can learn a lot from organizations that measure emotions in customer experience.

  1. Define metrics that help measure critical emotions in influential experiences. Start by defining metrics for critical emotions and experiences that have a high impact on your customer relationships. Then, define emotion metrics. In recent interviews, nearly all of the CX pros who measure emotions do so retrospectively rather than in real time. That is because it is easier and adds value nonetheless. For the same reason, many started with metrics that measure positive or negative sentiment as opposed to discrete emotions. For example, Lenovo uses text analysis software to measure changes in sentiment scores quarter over quarter and monitors when sentiment falls below a threshold.
  2. Rethink how you collect and analyze emotion data. The key here is to be pragmatic and build on your current measurement tools so that you can show value quickly. First, overcome the limitations of surveys for measuring emotions with different kinds of questions and scales. For example, United Airlines now explicitly asks customers which emotions they felt at the end of a flight. Also, look more closely into using text analysis to identify emotions in unstructured feedback if you aren’t doing so already. Only then should you move on to add new ways of collecting and analyzing emotion data. (My report includes a detailed assessment of the fundamental approaches for capturing emotions for CX measurement programs.)
  3. Use emotion metrics to drive CX improvements and win over skeptics. Prove the value of emotion measurement early on by getting a few stakeholders to use emotion metrics to inform CX improvements. You’ll need to make it easy for them to identify the systemic issues behind negative emotions by adding context to emotion metrics. Also, to help them understand more about what drives negative emotions, consider bringing in some of the advanced emotion measurement tools that you wouldn’t use for tracking emotion metrics in CX. For example, Emotient — an emotion analytics vendor that Apple recently acquired — used video-based facial-expression analysis to determine when fast-food customers and employees got stressed out during an experience. If you already measure emotions in real time, you can help internal stakeholders determine when experiences turn sour and give them a chance to salvage these experiences in real time.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic.