Emotions in the Customer Journey

By Rick Kirkham

Rick Kirkham, Customer Touch Point

I travel around a lot with work and often stop to grab a coffee maybe some breakfast after an early start. I did this just last week. The restaurant was relatively quiet with just a few like me taking the chance to re-fuel before a meeting and some new mums out catching up and hoping for 2 minutes peace and quiet with a coffee and something to eat. Their plan was working to start with until one toddler started to get upset and ‘went noisy’.

I am writing about this because what happened next was one of the best displays of customer service that I have seen for some time. The gent who had been serving the mums went over while she tried to comfort and calm her son and started to pull some funny faces and play ‘peek-a-boo’. This had an instant effect and turned the frowns and tears into smiles and laughter. The toddler then sat happily in his high chair while the waiter continued to entertain him until mum had finished breakfast. The lady was so grateful she was almost in tears herself and everyone who could see what had happened was smiling and (speaking for myself now) felt a nice warm glow about their experience in that restaurant on that dark, wet morning.

This experience really made me think about the importance of emotion in Customer Experience, something me and the team at Customer Touch Point know is a critical factor in any customer journey or customer experience.

Emotions and Behaviour

Emotion directly affects behaviour; negative emotions drive negative behaviour and positive emotions drive positive behaviour. To put this into a commercial context and continuing with the restaurant theme, you can see how all the elements of a customer’s journey can have a positive or negative (positive or negative for you – the business) impact on the outcome, ultimately whether they a) come to you in the first place and b) whether they come back again, both of which have significant commercial value.

The diagram below shows the interaction between, behaviour, emotion, thoughts/beliefs and experiences. The implications of these interactions from a customer journey point of view are vast but I’m going to focus on the link between emotions and behaviour in this article.

Decision Making

Experiences and memories impact the outcome of the journey before you are even aware and before they take any action. If the customer has eaten or drank with you before then questions such as ‘have I eaten there before?’  Or ‘What was the music like?’ all run through the mind and create a negative or positive sentiment at the start of the journey.


In many cases, before a customer eats or drinks with you, they will check you out online, maybe wanting to look at a menu or check when you open. This is when the impact of emotions your online presence generates start to have an impact, positively or negatively.

If your website is easy to navigate and the customer can easily find out what they need to know, they will experience positive emotions such as being relaxed and re-assured. When feeling like this they are then likely to make a booking or decide to come to you when they need to place an order.

If, however, the website is hard to navigate, key information unclear and the contact details deliberately difficult to find then the customer will start to get frustrated or irritated. Negative emotions which reduce the chance of that booking being made and increase the chance of the business being lost.

If the customer does need to get in touch with you after this online visit, impact of emotion is equally important, and the contact becomes a ‘moment of truth’.


Many organisations small and large are under pressure to reduce the cost of overall customer contact. This often results in telephone numbers being hidden and IVR (IVR being telephone menus where you choose on option on your keypad) and queue music being used as tactics to avoid or delay the contact. Also, not everyone has the staff to have a dedicated call handler on site which means it can take while to get through. The problem with this approach is that it causes more negative emotion within the customer’s journey, increases their effort (we are big on customer effort as you can read here) and again reduces the chances of the business coming your way.

The problem with trying too hard to avoid inbound phone contact is that customers still trust the phone. In fact, what they trust is the human to human interaction they have over the telephony channel. Trust is a positive emotion and generating that feeling in your customer’s journey makes them more likely to spend with you. 

There are plenty of ways you can generate that feeling of trust while keeping the cost of contact down. You can for example SMS addresses, directions and opening hours from an IVR if that is what the customer needs, nice and easy, low cost and prevents the call from needing to be answered on site.

So we can see all the way through the journey so far that emotion has a direct impact on the outcome, and the customer spending with you rather than a competitor.


It is very well evidenced that music has a powerful connection to emotion and many organisations use it to help them create the desired mood and ambience depending on their brand, customers and the overall offering. Choice of music itself is important but I’m not going to focus on that here because the conversation that I have most often in this area is about the ability (or lack of) for operational staff to manage the music in their own space. Having a reliable, low effort music management system makes a big difference for teams working on the ground and means it is one less thing to worry about.  With our platform you can easily manage your music on the move via your mobile, turn it up, turn it down, pre programme for different times of day and even give you team free reign to play what they like when you’re closed. If you need voice content you can also manage this, pre schedule regular announcements and take care of special events such as Remembrance Day with ease.


There are many non face to face contact channels available now that can help you increase business, but it can be difficult to capture spend in a safe and secure way. Having to break a journey or move to a different contact channel increases customer effort and frustration and again we may start to see those negative behaviours occurring and business may be lost as a result. To remedy this, we have developed a payment tool which can take payments quickly and easily over any channel, including social media so you can capture the spend there and then.

If you have a Facebook page to promote your take-away, you can take orders and take payment there and then. It also means you don’t have to pay commission to third parties to do this for you and so increases your profit margin. There are a lot of regulations surrounding the taking of payments and rightly so. CTPeasy pay protects you and your customers because you never see the card information and it does not get stored on your systems and therefore can’t be hacked thus de-risking you from fraud.  By using CTPeasy pay the risk completely lies with the cardholder’s bank, any fraudulent transactions are the responsibility of the bank and not you as the vendor.  So as-well as being a PCI DSS Level 1 payment solution it provides a low effort, safe experience for your customers and those all-important positive emotions are generated.


We often get asked if ‘everything is alright with your meal’ but does that direct question truly capture how customers feel about their experience? We suggest not. Having the ability to ask a more useful set of questions instantly and confidentially (from the customer’s point of view) can solve immediate problems for that customer and others before the impact of any negative impact spreads. Questions such as how was the service? Did you enjoy the food? Would you come back again? All add a lot of value. As always, the customer effort needs to be low so word the questions succinctly and only ask what you really need to know. Management insight can be provided real time through dashboards and as well as fixing problems, this also helps you replicate and do more of what works well and helps you reward performance in your team.


Emotions influence behaviour and we recommend travelling through your customer journey in the shoes of your customers and see if yours help or hinder your business.

The table below is a great piece of research from the US and shows the commercial impact of generating positive emotions in your journeys.

Customer Touch Point can help you make your customers journeys work for you and your customers, to win more business and to reduce costs. Creating effortless customer experiences is what we do. We’d love to hear from you so get in touch here and see how we can support you….

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