MIX07: The Emotion of Customer Experience

by May 3, 2007

Clued In author Lou Carbone’s The Emotion of Customer Experience talk at MIX07 outlined how companies can create on-going emotional connections with their customers by managing experience “clues” that grow loyalty and value. Check out the full session video on the MIX07 site or my condensed notes below:

Engineering Customer Experiences

  • Move from “making and selling” to “sensing and responding”. Focus on creating value for your customers not extracting value. The purpose of an organization is to create value for customers and their reward is profit. Most organizations are focused solely on extracting profit from their customers.
  • Understand and leverage the role of the customer back (emotional/rational bond). Rather then organization out, go from customer back in. Learn to walk in your customer’s minds. Critical to understanding how people feel is how they think.
  • Clue consciousness. Clues that link with people to create emotional connections. The unconsciousness mind has thoughts and feelings about things -its impossible not to. Customers consciously and subconsciously take in clues and generate an understanding of an experience whether rational or emotional.
  • Rigorous systems to develop and manage clues. Most companies spend their time learning how people feel about their brand instead of how their customers feel about themselves. You cannot NOT have an experience. The question is how well architected or designed is it? Does it have a set of random clues? Or do the clues create an emotional connection.
  • Most companies still using old processes and not able to adjust to new experience rules. Everything we learn in school is rooted in industrial age. That age is over. The new order is about sensing and responding. Know even before your customers know what they want.

Managing Experiences

  • We began being interested in behaviors, then attitudes but what drives both if these are emotions. Emotions shape attitudes that drive behaviors.
  • Human emotion ultimately bounds customers to the experiences we create. The experience age is about connections with human emotion.
  • Deep metaphors: basic unconsciousness filters or frames on information.
  • There is a hierarchy of customer behavior. At the top is ownership. We have many tools (blogs, social apps) to move people up levels.
  • Language analysis. One study showed a 300% difference between a bank site’s language and their customer’s language. A 30% difference according to communications experts, is a barrier to marriage!
  • Use experience motifs to generate an experience supported by clues. Northstar: what’s the feeling we want to create? What are the clues that support that. We can systematically create clues that the create experiences people want to return to.
  • Stop selling and start listening. Startups are so eager to tell their story, they don’t listen. Listen, understand, and respond with appropriate clues to create a connection.
  • In absence of intuitive understanding (Disney, Schultz, etc.), there has been a number of advances in neuroscience: understanding how we think.
  • You can’t get an entire organization to have intuitive skills.


  • Progressive insurance differentiation features: have adjusters show up at scene of accident with loss counseling and claim checks are written at the scene. Give competitor’s quote alongside their own.
  • Howard Johnson restaurants: used to be all over highways. Got into cost cutting exercises: cost of napkins, dropping ice flavors for efficiency. All restaurants are now gone. Focused on extracting value from clients vs. creating value.
  • Clue: toilet paper presentation provides a clue on experience in a hotel. Is it folded? Is it decorated?
  • DisneyLand: What temperature should ice cream be stored so it does not melt in a kid’s hand? Thought through every aspect of a customer feels.
  • Next practices: management of clues that created a feeling –an emotional connection. Disney was a cartoonist. The 4th frame is the emotion. The first few frames are clues.