What is the Customer Experience Lab?

The Customer Experience Lab (CEL) is a behavioral research laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business. The objective of the CEL is to better understand what customers are experiencing and how those experiences affect outcomes such as attitudes, evaluations, and decision-making. For example, what do people look at, for how long, and in what order when evaluating a mortgage Loan Estimate? How does their eye behavior affect evaluations of the loan offer?

The CEL features equipment to record and measure objective and subjective measures of behavior related to customer experiences. Hardware and software to aid in customer experience research include computer stations, data collection and analysis software, and physiological instruments such as eye-tracking equipment. The CEL features two Tobii X2-60 eye-tracking stations for measuring customers’ visual experiences for basic research, student projects, and community initiatives.


The Customer Experience Lab is led by marketing department professors Dr. Jodie Ferguson and Dr. Mayoor Mohan. Check out their bios below:

Jodie Ferguson

Dr. Ferguson’s research focuses on customer’s responses to firm decisions in the marketplace,  including behavioral pricing, B2B advertising, response to dissatisfaction, privacy concerns, and  business ethics. Her research has appeared in various marketing and business journals, including  Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Business Ethics, and  Journal of Brand Management.

Dr. Ferguson teaches undergraduate Marketing Principles and  Experiential Marketing, and Marketing Research at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She also received the VCU School of Business Distinguished Teaching Award (2014).

Dr. Ferguson’s practical experience involved experiential marketing at Marketing Mix (St. Louis) and Euro RSCG Impact (now Havas Impact, Atlanta), where she worked on experiential marketing initiatives with brands such as Gatorade, P&G, SoBe, Nestle, and Dunkin’ Donuts. Dr. Ferguson has also worked on customer experience research initiatives for Richmond-area organizations, including the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Dr. Mayoor Mohan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Marketing. He received his Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University, and his research focuses on managerial decision-making, product  strategy, and brand strategy. His research in these areas has resulted in publications in international  journals including the Journal of Business Research, Industrial Marketing Management, European  Journal of Marketing, Journal of Services Marketing, and Journal of Product & Brand Management.  Additionally, leading outlets like Forbes.com and The Aspen Institute have featured his research.

He is  a member of the American Marketing Association, the Academy of Marketing Science, and serves on  the editorial review board for the Journal of Business Research. Dr. Mohan currently teaches Product  Development and Management and Integrated Marketing Communications at the undergraduate level, and marketing modules to executive MBA students.

He also serves as a faculty mentor in VCU’s da  Vinci Center for Innovation and was the 2018 recipient of the VCU School of Business Distinguished Teacher Award. He has mentored over 25 student consulting projects for over 18 firms and organizations based in the Richmond metroplex that address key marketing and communication challenges.

Research Assistants

Student research assistants help the Customer Experience Lab run smoothly! Both undergraduate and graduate students assist in lab activities throughout the school year. Some of the projects research assistants work on include data collection, data analysis, secondary data research projects, and maintaining the lab. Previous students have earned independent study course credit as a research assistant and have presented research at the VCU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) Poster Symposium.

Learn more about the CEL’s current and past research assistants below. To learn more about becoming a CEL research assistant, email celab@vcu.edu.

Check out our research assistants' bios below:

Salman Vohra, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Fall 2018

Salman graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in the Fall of 2018 with a B.S. in Business, Concentration in Supply Chain Management and Analytics. He worked in the Customer Experience Lab his final semester at VCU, in which he assisted with several studies and projects.

In his final semester, Salman participated in the Inaugural VCU School of Business Ethics Competition. His team was a part of the finalist group and went on to achieve first place in the final presentations.

In his time at Virginia Commonwealth University, Salman was a part of several student organizations such as Alpha Kappa Psi, multiple cultural student organizations and A+SCILS. He spent much of his free time participating in school events or in community support, volunteering with the local SPCA and BARK animal shelter. Following graduation, Salman began working in Operations at Walmart to begin his career.

Amanda Ting Heah, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Spring 2018

Ting graduated in May 2018 from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in Marketing. In her final semester at VCU, she participated in an independent study with Dr. Ferguson, where she assisted in a variety of research activities in the CEL, which led to studying the effect of using a celebrity in B2B advertising. After analyzing data collected from eye-tracking devices in VCU’s behavioral research lab, Ting and her independent study peer, Mary Widmer, presented their research and findings at the VCU Poster Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity.

Her experience includes an internship with World Sport Group where she created and implemented experiential marketing campaigns for the Women’s Tennis Association Finals in Singapore. As a member of a competition and demonstration jump rope team since the second grade, Ting has dedicated much of her life to being an advocate for the sport and coaching young athletes in the Richmond area.

When she is not training for international competitions or working, she enjoys playing tennis and traveling, as well as attending concerts and live theater performances.

Mary Widmer, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Spring 2018

Mary graduated from VCU in May of 2018 with a degree in marketing and was the vice president of the American Marketing Association at VCU. As an active member of AMA, Mary attended the AMA International Collegiate Conference and was a semi-finalist in the Marketing Case Competition.

Mary also completed an independent study with Dr. Jodie Ferguson in the Customer Experience Lab, where she studied the use of eye-tracking devices in marketing research and presented findings in the VCU Poster Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity. She was the recipient of the VCU Department of Marketing’s Distinguished Service Award for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Her experience includes a marketing internship at Performance Foodservice where she worked with content marketing and analytics.

Ashley Bacalso, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Summer and Fall 2017

Ashley graduated in May 2018 from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in Psychology and minor in Business. In the Summer and Fall of 2017, she served as the first undergraduate research assistant for the CEL, where she assisted in a consumer research study using an eye-tracking device.

She was president and founder of Global Brigades at VCU, an organization she started in 2015 that focuses on resolving economic and health disparities in Central American communities through medical/dental care, engineering and clean water systems.

In the Spring of 2018, she completed her honors thesis on Nostalgia in Social Media settings, where she presented her findings at the VCU Poster symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity. She also served as Vice President for the Psi Chi Honor Society and the National Society for Collegiate Scholars during her final year at VCU. She was also the recipient of the VCU Department of Psychology: Outstanding Psychology Senior Award for the 2017-2018 academic year.

In the Fall of 2018, she began to complete her master’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.