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What is customer emotion?

11 min read
Harnessing the power of customer emotion can help you to forge deeper customer relationships and develop loyalty. Learn how to include insights on customer emotion in your business processes for a better customer experience.

What is customer emotion?

Customer emotion is a measure of how customers feel about their experience with a company.

The dynamics behind customer emotions are surprisingly complex. The increasing importance of customer emotion in customer experience can be summed up by appropriating an old quote: “Customers may not remember what the quality of your product was, but they will always remember how their customer experience made them feel.” Those feelings can be the difference between good and great results for a business.

Why is customer emotion important?

Customer emotions inspire decisions. Contemporary research demonstrates that a customer’s emotions are important indicators of not only individual purchases but also the likelihood of continuing on the customer journey and inspiring others to take that journey.

In one study, customers with an emotional connection spent twice as much money as customers who were merely satisfied with the product. Furthermore, Harvard Business Review found that customers with strong emotional connections to a brand were 52% more valuable than customers who were merely satisfied.

Businesses should investigate how emotion influences both individual decisions and long-term loyalty in order to understand the role of customer emotion within a broader customer experience strategy.

Understanding customers’ emotional engagement with a brand can help create loyal customers with a high lifetime value.

What emotions might your customers display, and when?

Customers may experience a range of emotions in response to a brand interaction, and how they feel will impact their long-term loyalty to a business.

Backed by analysis of 10,000 US customers across 100,0000 brand interactions, Qualtrics customer experience expert Bruce Temkin has narrowed down the emotions he believes customers feel when they interact with a business. These emotions exist on a scale ranging from positive emotions to negative emotions and include adoration, appreciation, ambivalence, agitation, and anger. According to this research, individuals who experience negative emotions are 30% less likely to buy another product, but adoring customers will buy again with a 93% confidence rate.

Determining when your customers feel these emotions during the customer journey enables teams to better leverage emotional connections to improve business outcomes. When mapping out the customer journey, organisations search for the moments that contain the greatest emotional load regardless of whether those emotions are positive or negative. For example, if customers often express agitation during the payment process, this is a pain point in their customer journey – and one that might put them off buying again. If instead customers feel appreciation after receiving a discount code for being loyal, they might spend more with you.

Customer emotion vs customer satisfaction

Many brands analyse customer satisfaction as a reflection of how effectively the organisation is meeting customer expectations.

However, despite the insight it can provide into the impact a business is making, customer satisfaction alone fails to provide insight into the success of a company’s customer experience strategy.  For example, a customer could be highly satisfied but completely unmotivated to make additional purchases or recommend the brand to others.

When you combine customer satisfaction with a broader strategy, to leverage emotional connection, you’re able to evaluate how likely customers are to purchase more, recommend more, and remain loyal over time.

Our latest research has found that the customers of today want brands to build an emotional connection with them and demonstrate an understanding of how they feel. More than 60% of consumers want businesses to care more about them and say that they would buy more as a result.

Customer satisfaction is a much simpler metric to measure than emotion. As described in our guide to capturing customer emotion, even when customers attempt to describe how they feel, they might not fully understand their own unconscious emotional responses and be able to accurately describe their experience.  As a result, organisations should leverage an omnichannel analytics platform to analyse the emotional connection a customer has with your business based on data from across sources.

Measure customer satisfaction with Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Programs

How to capture customer emotion

For more information, check out our full guide on how to capture customer emotions and explore some key highlights below.

Gathering big data on customer emotion

To understand the emotional connection between customers and a brand, businesses should analyse both structured and unstructured data.

Solicited, structured data includes:

  • direct customer reporting through surveys
  • social media requests and responses

Direct survey questions or social media queries you might ask your customer about their emotional connection to your brand could be:

  • When you recently experienced (specific interaction), how did you feel after completing (the interaction)? Select all that apply.
  • “How much does (your brand) make you feel the following emotions when you think about (brand, service or product)?” Select all that apply.
  • How do you feel about our new (product or service)? Tell us in the comments!

The unsolicited, unstructured data covers:

  • social mentions
  • customer service call and chat transcriptions
  • chatbot transcriptions
  • third party reviews

Conversational intelligence (or conversational data) on customer emotions can be collected using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, natural language processing, and algorithms to pick out emotional sentiments. For example, Qualtrics CustomerXM for Digital’s real-time conversational analysis can pinpoint customers’ emotions using these refined techniques.


In order to leverage all of the available data, companies should implement a sophisticated tool that can analyse and integrate data from across sources.  Learn how Qualtrics CustomerXM for Digital can tap into your customer data to explore emotional responses.

Analysing customer emotion

After gathering the data, businesses must extract details about customer emotions from that information.

Indirect reporting capabilities enable teams to easily determine how customers feel when interacting with a brand.

For indirect data, you will need text analysis and sentiment analysis. These are the processes that can pick out the conscious and unconscious emotional responses in your customer feedback.

Using customer experience analytics means you can see trends and patterns in customer behaviour overlaid with your data on customer emotions. You can reduce customer churn by transforming dissatisfied customers into ones that show adoration for your brand.

Sentiment analysis: What it is and how to use it to improve customer experiences

Taking action to develop an emotional connection pathway

In order to drive customer loyalty, businesses need to turn insights into action and implement the appropriate changes to promote positive emotions throughout the customer journey.

Equipped with an understanding of how to drive positive emotions, organisations can use that knowledge to create repeatable experiences for new and existing customers.

Creating an emotional connection with the customer

How do you build emotional connections with your customer without it feeling disingenuous? We’ve identified six steps businesses can take to get started in the right direction.

1. Understand emotional motivators

Building emotional connections means analysing what emotional motivations your customers have for taking actions, such as making a purchase or recommending your products and services. For example, if your customer appreciates your product meets their needs and subsequently purchases a new product, you know that you need to find ways to replicate that same emotion, knowing it created a positive outcome for your business.

2. Improve the customer experience

Much of staying emotionally connected to your customers is by listening and understanding their emotions, and then improving or capitalising on the experiences that cause them, whether that be frustration from a check-out experience or satisfaction that an FAQ section quickly solved their query.

Customer experience isn’t just about giving customers what they want. It’s about anticipating what they need, improving the frontline customer experience, and investing in your customer relationship management.


Creating an experience that meets, and exceeds, their expectations is key to developing strong emotional connections with your audience. With technology, personalisation can now be made at scale, making customers feel as though your connection is one-to-one, rather than the one-to-many approach they’re used to. You’re able to correct customers onto the path they want to be on, improve satisfaction and minimise reasons for them wanting to leave.

3. Be authentic

Creating real stories that your audience can identify with can help you to connect on an emotional level with your customers because doing so highlights that you understand what they need, and how you can help.

4. Develop trust

When businesses repeatedly deliver on promises, they can earn your customers’ trust and elicit positive emotional associations with their brand. According to the Qualtrics XM Institute, customers are 4.2 times more likely to trust an organisation after a positive customer experience and 3.5 times more likely to purchase more.

5. Be empathetic

To develop an emotional connection with your customer, your brand needs to relate to the consumer on a personal level. Show you understand their motivations, needs, and desires. How you communicate is pivotal to achieving this. Communicating in a way that’s human and empathetic, rather than purely transactional, can help customers to feel more strongly about your brand.

6. Show that you care and appreciate your customers

When it comes to customer feedback, showing that your business is listening and willing to take action can help to convince your audience that you care about their views. You can also show you appreciate their business by creating customer loyalty programs that reward loyalty over time.

Get 10 ideas on how to improve customer experience (CX)

Improving your customer experience with Qualtrics

Qualtrics, now powered with Clarabridge, enables you to gauge customer emotion with the click of a button. Our text analytics engine, powered by a proprietary natural language understanding (NLU) engine, has Basic and Advanced emotions models that will categorise your customer feedback by emotional keywords and phrases. This will empower you to search and analyse trends within your customer feedback for emotions like love, happiness, sadness, disgust, surprise, and others.

This kind of insight can help you tailor your products or services to go together with how you want to make your customers feel. Or it can help you make adjustments or improvements to get ahead of any potential problems in reaction to the emotions your customers express. If they’re confused, you can develop more training or help materials; if they’re frustrated, identify ways to decrease their effort and make things easier.

Qualtrics can help you listen, analyse, and act on the root causes of customer emotions, so you can cultivate the right customer experience.

Leverage customer emotion with Qualtrics CustomerXM for Digital