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CX and the Cycle of Desire: Rated M for Mature Marketing Audiences

Daniel Glickman

Don’t worry, you’re in the right place: The following content is exciting—I hope—but probably not, despite its title, sexy.

Desire, the juice that launches and fuels at least one half of the customer experience (CX), always has and always will mystify marketers. What do customers want—and when, where, and how do they want it?

Or more specifically, how do we marketers create, trigger, and then manage a Cycle of Desire around our product or brand? What do we need to supply our audiences or customers with to make them want us?

Let’s start by looking at what can we learn from companies that people desire to avoid—aka The Undesirables—such as telecoms, cell phone carriers, government offices, medical services, contractors, and auto-mechanics. These entities, in general, make us feel:

  • Uncertain about contract terms, bills, fees, services, and so on
  • Frustrated with overly complex or dehumanizing processes
  • Uncared for / unloved / insignificant

After engaging with The Undesirables, most of us are left feeling a total lack of control. As a result, with these products, brands, and services, we experience:

  • Little or no trust
  • Fear of being taking advantage of
  • Fear of potential negative outcomes or side effects
  • Personal stress, due to all of the above

Desire cannot live—it cannot be generated—without a strong base of confidence, care, and security.
Companies that recognize this fundamental truth, such as Telsa, REI, Costco, Uber, Starbucks, and Amazon, spend more money on CX than they do on advertising. These companies consistently deliver a fantastic digital customer experience because they follow what I have termed the Three E’s of CX, with CX being defined as the emotional response and set of feelings a customer has related to the product (or service, or brand) and its benefit.

The Three E’s stand for:


A great CX provides the customer with the best-desired outcome they can imagine.


A great CX gives the customer what they need in the most efficient manner perceivable.


A great CX supports or modifies the customer’s emotional state and makes them feel the way they want or should feel—in relation to the product, brand, or service. Shopping for a car, for example, should make customers feel excited, while going to a therapy appointment should make them feel relieved. Or perhaps both outings trigger stress, but of a different type and level.

With an endless range of emotional possibilities in mind, marketers should realize that they will not be able to figure out how to provide the customer with the emotional experience they need or want without first evaluating what emotional state their customers are in when they start the experience.

Huh? Say again? Short of installing cameras and body sensors in every home and on every customer, how on Earth are we expected to know how a customer is feeling in the minutes or seconds before he or she visits our site?

We aren’t there yet, it’s tricky, but perhaps some insight can be gained by looking at how we have traditionally measured customer “satisfaction.” The Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures positive or negative responses by asking questions such as—How happy are you with your service? and How likely are you to recommend our service to your friends?—but it does not name or describe any actual emotion. Satisfaction is just one experience, one emotion, and I believe marketers need to start defining different kinds of emotions, emotions that are relevant to our solution or to the experience we are trying to provide.

Most customer experience studies talk about “delighting customers” or “making them satisfied, but this aim is flawed (so too then are the results and actions marketers take, in response, to increase “satisfaction”), because at different stages of the customer journey, customers have a different frame of reference, and the emotional state they seek changes.

What we marketers need, for tackling the newest iterations of the digital CX, is a map of customer conditions with desired associated emotions. What we need to continuously decipher in digital now is: In what state of mind is the customer arriving, and how can we provide them with an experience that will move them from the condition they are in to the condition they want to be in? How will we then measure emotions at various stages of the customer journey and integrate them into our KPIs and CRM systems? How we will keep this Cycle of Desire running smoothly and resist devolving into an Undesirable?

I’ve begun to build a map. Of course, the map could be endless, and as always, I invite feedback and input, but this is my effort at aiming more precisely for emotion A, B, C at stage X, Y, or Z, and to measure it better.

Condition / Stage Incoming Emotion Desired Emotion Desired Action/Insight
customer has a problem frustration/fear/stress confidence/trust/hope Learn about our solution.
customer has been trying to solve a product-related problem frustration/distrust confidence/trust Give the provider a second chance. Be kind to them on social media.
customer first encounters your pitch skepticism positive surprise/pride in discovering something new Be intrigued with the solution/brand.
customer made a decision to purchase your product, but did not sign the documents self doubt/fear/


Confidence/self-assurance/clarity Sign the documents.
purchased a vacation package curiosity/excitement eagerness Share on social media.
successfully set up a complex product for the first time pride in self pride in self / gratitude for the brand’s support Upgrade and share product.
purchased a product with a high subjective value low self-esteem reassured about self identity Seal the deal.

Interested in working together?

Working for Roojoom, I have extensive experience working with large brands to create personal experiences that lead to action. As a CMO and consultant, I have experience building Cycles of Desire for startups.

I’m very approachable and would love to chat with you about what you and your brand’s customers need and desire.

Contact me

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