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How Emotions Drive Customer Experience

3 min read
Customer Experience
How Emotions Drive Customer Experience

Study after study shows that emotions matter more than reason when it comes to customer satisfaction and experience. Dig into your customer feedback to understand the emotional triggers behind your customer’s behavior.

How customers feel about their experience with your company matters more than whether or not they like your product. The former is considered emotional satisfaction, while the latter is rational satisfaction.

The foundation of many companies’ customer satisfaction rating systems is based on functional requirements. Did the product arrive intact? Did it arrive on time? Was it what you expected?

This is helpful information, and can determine rational satisfaction – but it doesn’t cover the emotional dimension. It doesn’t divulge customers’ emotional satisfaction.

Just because a customer is rationally satisfied doesn’t mean they are emotionally satisfied. It’s that emotional satisfaction that will drive customers to engage and connect with the company going forward.

Emotional satisfaction may be the biggest indicator of customer loyalty, in fact.

Research Shows That Emotional Experience Matters Most

Customers’ emotional responses to service failures influence their satisfaction judgments and their evaluation of the company’s recovery (customer win-back) efforts, this study shows.

Customers who were satisfied with the product, but weren’t particularly moved by the purchase experience, don’t behave that differently from dissatisfied customers. Look at this customer study from an international credit card provider for proof of that.

  • Emotionally satisfied customers spent on average $251 per month and used their cards an average of 3.1 times per month.
  • Rationally satisfied cardholders spent on average of only $136 per month and used their cards an average of 2.5 times per month during the same period.
  • Dissatisfied customers also spent on average $136 per month and used their cards an average of 2.2 times per month during the same period.

Customers who were satisfied with the product and had an emotionally satisfying purchase experience are more likely to buy more products, spend more, and return more often to the business.

A case study from a U.S. retail bank uncovered that emotionally satisfied customers ended their relationships with the bank 37% less than rationally satisfied customers.

A L’Oreal study uncovered a link between sales reps’ emotional intelligence and customer purchase habits as well. When sales employees were hired for their emotional intelligence, they sold over $91,000 more per year than employees hired without considering that criteria.

Putting Emotional Intelligence into Practice

The most important question you can ask when trying to improve your company’s customer satisfaction ratings is: why?

  • Why aren’t customers having an emotionally positive experience with your company?
  • Why is your company working hard to improve customer experience?
  • Why isn’t the customer connecting with your company?
  • Why should customers care?

Dig into customer feedback to answer these questions, and use them to improve customers’ emotional experience through the entire buying journey – from purchase through post-purchase customer service.

All of this starts, of course, by gathering feedback in a customer-centric way, then making that insight available to your entire organization. (And yes, we can help with that).


Customers spend or don’t spend because of how they’re feeling — much less how they’re thinking. Whatever business you’re in you need to ensure you’re connecting on a human level with your audience.

While emotions aren’t always easy to quantify, with the right feedback tools, that let you listen systematically and authentically to your customers, your company will be on the way to building profitable relationship-based brand experiences.

The bottom line is this: Every company needs emotional intelligence. The core emotions driving your brand experience shouldn’t be left to chance. On-going, event driven, closed-loop feedback gives you the data and insight you need to know – and predict, what delights and what disappoints the human beings whose engagement makes or breaks your brand. Having his insight makes all the difference.

Read more about Customer Satisfaction Surveys


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