Create more emotionally engaging experiences that are congruent with your brand strategy

“You observe a lot by watching.”


-Yogi Berra

In the previous blog of our Reimagining Insights series, Lou and I shared Experience Management Absolute #1: Narrow the “brand canyon,” focusing more on how customers and employees feel about themselves rather than just what they think about your brand. This week’s blog delves into Experience Management Absolute #2: Shift your focus from rational to subconscious thought, building an emotional motif for both customers and employees. 

To really get at the emotions that make the peaks and valleys along your customer journey more memorable, you need to uncover the mental models that customers use to simplify their view of the world. Research has shown there are a limited number of “deep metaphors” that guide customers’ decision making. These metaphors can be stories, phrases or specific words, and can be triggered by other sensory stimuli such as sight, sound and smell, not just the specific words themselves. Moreover, most decision making is actually subconscious, unless the customer experiences pain points that cause them to slow down and shift to more conscious thinking (see Matt’s book reviews forThinking Fast and Slow, The Power of Habit, and Clued In here). By understanding which deep metaphors most apply to your customer journey, you can focus on an “emotional motif” of just 3-5 emotions for your experience design efforts and ongoing “clue scanning” to spot whether the experience is congruent with your emotional motif. You can also build an emotional motif for your employees, too, given the importance of your frontline employees in delivering an exceptional customer experience. 

It’s truly exciting that the technology is catching up with expertise-driven approaches for delving into our subconscious thought and how we feel during the customer experience, rather than the words we use to rationalize that experience in our conscious thought. In the past you needed to use less scalable approaches to develop these powerful insights, such as direct observation in physical environments or in depth interviews during an intercept or other controlled environment more distant from the actual experience. These qualitative insights can be gathered in ways that take advantage of careful research design to uncover the deep metaphors at play and how they influence our emotions and behaviors. This used to require more expensive research as part of your UX/UI investments to optimize physical and digital experiences such as website and mobile app design, content marketing, in-store shopper marketing, store format innovations, or other experience management investments. Those can still be valuable, but can now be combined with additional approaches using platforms such as Qualtrics combining surveys and text analytics of unstructured data (e.g., online ratings and reviews, social media interactions, messaging platforms, voice-to-text transcripts of calls to your contact center, live chat, and open ended questions from surveys) to make them more scalable and allow you to do more for less. 

These innovations for your research toolkit have several significant implications:

We hope that this blog sparked some great ideas for you! If you’d like to continue the conversation, “share your spark” with us here!