If you want to grow, start from the emotions

Customers assess their service experience through emotions. When aiming for loyal customers, promoters and growth, it is not enough to just fulfill the customer need or to be easy to do business with.
Teija Kuustonen
Director, Customer Relationship Development, LocalTapiola

When I was thinking about a personal customer experience example to share in this blog post, one from some years ago (still) came to my mind. This example is, unfortunately, a negative one, but teaches a lot about the variety and importance of emotions in customer experience.

I was visiting a car repair shop as after a minor accident a part in my car needed to be changed. The end result of the service fulfilled my need: the part was changed and my car worked again. Everything in order? Not really!

Yes, I was relieved when this episode of my life was finally behind. But I was also frustrated already when booking the time for the repair: my car had been in this very same car repair shop, for the very same reason earlier, and they had “just forgot” to do everything that was needed. I got angry when I felt that I was blamed for the oblivion. I was annoyed when the service encounter took twice longer than estimated. I was disappointed when my constructive feedback didn’t seem to interest the person who served me. In the end, I was nearly hilarious when I got the official feedback request regarding the service – 5 weeks after visiting the car repair shop.

Did I feel like an important and significant customer? No. Will I ever go to the same place again? No.

Personal circumstances and expectations vary from customer to customer and from one customer service situation to another. As research shows, at least half of the experience is emotion [1], it is fundamental to try to engage with the customer on the emotional level. It is not enough that the end result of the service encounter is technically right.

In customer experience, the process, i.e. delivering the service, is at least as important as the end result. Emotion matters, in all channels, not just in face-to-face interactions. You are relieved when you are able to fulfill your service need over the weekend, instead of being forced to follow strict office hours. You are annoyed when queueing minutes on the phone to your service provider’s service desk number. You are delighted when a chat conversation really gets started within seconds instead of minutes after your initiation.

Loyalty to a brand is built on the emotional level

In most cases, there are plenty of service providers who can fulfill your need for a specific product or service, be it a new camera, a hairdresser or a business consultancy. Even though there is still a lot of room for improvements in many areas, more and more service providers are steadily becoming easier to do business with: digital service channels, extended business hours and paying attention to usability are just some examples of the ways to make buying and using services easier for the customer.

As important as the ease of doing business and fulfilling customers’ needs are for the customer’s experience, they are not enough. What is it that keeps a customer coming back to the same service provider or brand over and over again? What is that “something” that makes your experience an enjoyable one – and yourself a loyal customer? Is it the feeling of being, for example, important, welcome or valued? An inspiring encounter that makes you feel curious to learn more about the service? The feeling of delight when someone or something in the service surprises you positively? The peace of mind gained through a dialogue to ensure that the service you have acquired is the best solution for you or your company? Most likely all of this combined: being treated as an individual, not as a faceless piece of crowd or as a logo of a company you represent – that is, being engaged on the emotional level.

The promoter has the power

Most of us know the common equation of how

  • a satisfied customer tells about his experience on average to three people
  • an unsatisfied customer tells on average to eleven people
  • when shared in social media, these numbers can be multiplied
  • loyal customers are more willing to share their positive experiences and to recommend, to friends or colleagues

Recommendations are highly significant. More and more buyers in both B2C and B2B get acquainted with the experiences of their friends or peers when making buying decisions. A recommendation from a trusted person might just be the reason why a customer chooses you over your competitor.

Emotionally engaging customer experiences yield loyal customers who stay with you longer, buy more from you and recommend your services in their networks. This is also important from a business perspective, as superior customer experience drives revenue growth [2] and leading customer experience companies grow revenues above their market [3].

As an engineer, I am tempted to sum up all of this as an equation:

Superior Customer Experience =

Loyalty =

Longer relationship + Additional sales + Recommendations =

Business results


Teija Kuustonen is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and customer-oriented business leader, who leads customer relationship development at LocalTapiola, one of our CX Masterclass partners.



[1] Shaw, C (2012) “How Emotions Drive a Customer Experience”:

[2] Manning, H (2016) “Customer Experience Drives Revenue Growth, 2016”:

[3] Debruyne, F & Dullweber, A (2015) “The Five Disciplines of Customer Experience Leaders”:


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Ian Golding is a renowned CX specialist, who advises leading companies with their CX strategies, as well as measuring and developing CX and listening to your employees. He is the first one to have achieved the Certified Customer Experience Professional certificate and acts as CXPA UK Ambassador.


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