Guest Post: 7 Secrets of Measuring Customer Emotions in Your VoC Research

Colin Shaw is an official LinkedIn Influencer where he has recognized as one of the ‘World’s Top 150 Business Influencers.’ Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy LLC, has been selected by the Financial Times as one of the best management consultancies for the last two years. Colin has written seven bestselling books on Customer experience is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast.


Measuring customer emotions in your Voice of Customer (VoC) research is critical if you want to facilitate customer-driven growth. Today, I have seven secrets that will make that measurement easier and more effective.

7 Secrets of Measuring Customer Emotions in Your VoC Research

Secret #1: Embrace customer emotions.

Emotions drive a great deal of value for an organization’s Customer Experience.

How a customer feels about their experience with you influences customer behavior, their memory of all the interactions they have had with you, and perhaps most importantly, why they come back for more. I find it strange despite the critical nature of emotions too many organizations either don’t consider them or if they do, they think of them in terms of positive or negative.

It is imperative that you not only consider customer emotions a crucial element of your design, but also that you are specific about the emotions you want to evoke.

Secret #2: Define what emotions drive value.

While determining the specifics, you should know which emotions drive the most value.

Through years of research with the London School of Business and responses from people across industries and all over the world, we learned that 20 emotions drive and destroy value for Customer Experience, which we call the Hierarchy of Emotional Value.

Use the Hierarchy of Emotional Value as part of your VoC research strategy.

Every organization is evoking emotions with their experience now, although often by accident. To understand what emotion your experience evokes, we recommend taking an outside-in approach to your experience as if you were a customer. By experiencing it for yourself, you learn where you need to make changes to evoke specific emotions deliberately.

Secret #3: Ask customers questions about specific emotions.

Measuring emotions requires being particular about what you want as well as what you want to know. For your VoC research, the questions should query how customers feel.

It’s critical to ask them about the specific emotion. ie: “How much do you trust company XYZ, How much do you feel they value you?”

Secret #4: Connect the dots.

Actions evoke emotions. If you want customers to trust you, your actions should make customers feel they can. We ask customers for examples of situations where a brand made customers feel like trusting them.

Often, the answers we get back are measurable. For example, customers say the brand “did what they say they would,” or “always repeat back my concerns to ensure they understand me.”

You can measure each of these actions by asking if you did what you said you would or confirmed concerns in your VoC research.

Secret # 5: Look behind what customers say.

In VoC research, you must avoid believing what customers tell you is the driving force for value. They don’t always know. Consider the following:

7 Secrets of Measuring Customer Emotions in Your VOC Research

The top boxes drive value, the bottom two boxes don’t. Customers can’t tell you the subconscious ones that do drive value, but they are often right there with the deceptive ones.

We learned this first-hand in work with a medical client. The patients said they wanted to feel like the doctors cared for them by spending time with them. When we took a deeper dive, we learned patients meant was they wanted the doctors to listen more.

In this case, what they meant was listen, but what they said was spend time. If we had taken their word for it, we could have made an experience that was still disappointing, but now lasted longer—not a good outcome. In this case measuring, “how much do you think the doctor listens to you?” is key.

Secret # 6: Use facial expression and sentiment analysis.

You can learn a lot in VoC research by the things customers don’t say. Facial expressions communicate what customers feel. Micro-expressions, like dilation of the pupils or a tightening of the mouth, link to specific subconscious emotions, or conscious emotions people are trying to hide.

By using software that records these micro-expressions, you can glimpse these momentary emotions. This method is especially useful in digital experiences. Don’t be put off by the ‘big brother’ agreement; Apple uses facial recognition to unlock phones of millions of people everyday.

Sentiment analysis looks at the meaning behind what a customer says. Much like our medical client’s patients, your customers might not say what makes them feel a certain way. It’s up to you to figure it out.

Secret #7: Predict how customers will feel and build a proactive experience.

The keyword here is proactive. Customer Science, which is the meeting point of behavioral science, data, and technology (mainly AI), will help you explain the customer behavior you see. Then, you can employ those findings to predict what they will do next and design an experience that facilitates that.

It is CRITICAL your VoC research tell you how your customers are feeling about you. Emotions are a key motivator in any buying decision. It is vital to understand how you are doing with customer emotions, but only if you know the secrets.

These seven secrets lead to a bonus one: when you evoke an emotion that drives value for customers, customers will drive value for your bottom line.