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Guest Post: The Biggest Value Driver That is Not on Your Journey Map

This week, we feature an article by Zhecho Dobrev, leading principal consultant at Beyond Philosophy and author of The Big Miss: How Organizations Overlook the Value of Emotions. He shares the value that customer emotions bring to a company. How much value ($$$) do closer customer relationships and specific customer emotions bring to your business? […]

This week, we feature an article by Zhecho Dobrev, leading principal consultant at Beyond Philosophy and author of The Big Miss: How Organizations Overlook the Value of Emotions. He shares the value that customer emotions bring to a company.

How much value ($$$) do closer customer relationships and specific customer emotions bring to your business? I know you would say, “of course that these are important, and we focus on them,” but have you calculated how much value they actually bring? In over 13 years of practice working with many organizations on their customer experience (CX) programs and having seen the type of research and measurements they do, I’ve only come across a handful of organizations that can prove to you how much value customer emotions bring to the company.

Why is this important, you might ask? Well, again, my observations show that pretty much every team tasked with improving the customer experience and driving more sales and customer retention is doing some form of journey mapping. And they should as it’s probably the cheapest and simple way of finding opportunities to improve the customer experience. The problem I see is this. Where do customer relationships feature on those journey maps? The other problem is that most teams pay superficial attention to customer emotions, mainly focusing on the customer steps/actions in the experience.

Consider this mindblowing fact from a Gartner research. Gartner provides various statistics showing that reducing customer effort can greatly impact customer retention and even reduce costs. The interesting part is that they report that 59% of the Customer Effort Score (CES) is driven by how customers feel, while 73% of CX teams focus on what customers objectively experience, not on how customers feel. This just shows that organizations overlook emotions probably because they don’t know how to have a data and science-based approach towards evoking specific emotions that, in turn, will drive value for the business.

Source: Gartner


With these questions and thoughts in the back of my mind, I decided to turn to our data of research with many organizations and calculate the value of customer emotional attachment compared to the typical customer journey map touchpoints.

The research sample consisted of data collected from some 18,537 customers of 24 large organizations from 9 different industry sectors, and the analysis included conducting structural equation modeling predictive analysis on 59 customer groups. In the process, B2B and B2C customers from the US, Canada, UK, Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia answered 1m+ survey questions. The research culminated in my book “The Big Miss: How Organizations Overlook The Value of Emotions” (Business Expert Press, 2022).

We found that “Emotional attachment” was the biggest driver of value in 59% of the customer groups we analyzed and overall was responsible for 43% of business value – far more than 2nd ranked “Product and use” with 20% and 3rd ranked “Brand and advertising” with 18%.

When we say “drive value for organizations,” what we mean is customers being more likely to recommend the organization, buy from them again or renew their subscription, contract, or insurance policy, seeing the organization as easy to work with (which research suggests is a predictor for future financial performance) and seeing the organization as distinctively better than competitors.

Of course, I am far from saying that I “discovered America” with this research. I have a dedicated chapter to research from other organizations with similar findings in the book. The point for me is this – despite the overwhelming evidence that emotions play a key role in customer decision making and the degree of emotional connection with the brand determines subsequent customer behavior, few organizations have a structured and wholistic approach towards nurturing such an emotional attachment.

The next interesting finding from our research might explain why this is the case. Customers don’t say that emotions are important to them!

When we do our Emotional Signature research, we use Maximum Difference Scaling (Most Important vs. Least Important) to find what customers want most and predictive analytics to find the key drivers of business value (customer attitudes). This way, we found that in 74% of the customer groups we analyzed, customers stated Product as the most important for them. In reality, the predictive analytics structural equation model showed that the Product only accounts for 12% of the largest drivers of value. On the other hand, only 2% of customer groups we analyzed customers stated an “Emotional attachment” aspect as the most important, while “Emotional attachment” accounts for 59% of the largest drivers of value.

 Strategic Implications

  1. Understand the difference between what customers say and do

This finding from the research confirms the words of David Ogilvy, who famously said, “Consumers don’t think about how they feel. They don’t say what they think, and they don’t do what they say”. However, the way most organizations do research with customers largely ignores this and often leads to costly mistakes (find some examples of costly mistakes in this article). So organizations need to dig deeper with their research methodologies to find the emotional and subconscious drivers of customer attitudes and behavior.

  1. Focus on building an emotional attachment

At the moment, when organizations use Journey Mapping, they focus on the customer actions and the rational side of the experience. They try to smooth the journey and find opportunities for digital automation.

As our research suggests, in addition to completing the jobs they set to do, customers also have the inner desire to feel a sense of belonging, that they are valued and appreciated as customers and that the organization they buy from cares for them as individuals and is trustworthy.

Organizations should rethink their journey maps and moments of truth to look at what customers are trying to do and how they are using the various interaction touchpoints as opportunities to create an emotional connection and a feeling of a relationship.

Zhecho Dobrev is a  customer experience and behavior science consultant & trainer at Beyond Philosophy and the author of The Big Miss: How Organizations Overlook the Value of Emotions. For more than 13 years, he has been helping many of the world’s most renowned organizations improve their customer experience, including American Express, FedEx, and Caterpillar.

Why Do So Many Companies Struggle to Connect with Customers? customer connectionFor more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors, go to

Read Shep’s latest Forbes article: Selling With Service: Five Sales Lessons From A Harvard Business School Professor 

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