Warm embrace or cold shoulder? What's the temperature of your customer experience?

I'm often travelling for work. Once, when I was in a corporate role, the administration manager who processed my expenses claims sighed, "It must be lovely to travel for work." I didn't know how to reply. It is kind of cool to explore the country and be paid to do it. But there are also downsides, when you do it regularly.

As any regular traveller will know, it gets lonely on the road.

Regular travellers seek out the rhythms of home away from home. Health and fitness is important to me, so whenever I'm on the move, I get out and pound the pavement with locals. I also sniff out fresh produce and healthy snacks. Recently, I stopped in at an airport cafe that's become an on-the-road go-to.

The clearly-bored cashier made it through the whole process of taking and paying for my order without once making eye contact.

When prompted, he printed out a tax invoice, grabbed it quickly from the till roll and smooshed it into my hand, avoiding any kind of physical contact. He closed off the encounter by informing me, "You can wait outside."

It felt as though I'd had a door slammed in my face.

The hands-off approach smarted even more than it usually would after a few days of being away from home. Although the transaction served its functional purpose - I got my salad, and it tasted pretty good - there was absolutely no attention to me.

Attention to people is critical to experience.

When I'm working with organisations to develop their customer experience, I start with feelings. I ask, "How do your customers feel?" I also ask, "How do you want them to feel?" In this instance, of an airport cafe, you'd put an odds-on bet your customers are feeling rushed, lonely and disconnected. It isn't rocket science to conclude that helping customers feel connected, seen and cared for would be a great foundation for an amazing customer experience.

All great experience starts with insights into emotions.