Don’t You Just Love Emotional Customers! How to Excel in the Customer Experience

In my last article about The Customer Journey – Evaluation, I discussed the six key elements of customer satisfaction. You need to excel in, the areas that help Heidi know you offer excellent value, the factors that cause her to choose you. These were: Getting the Job Done, Process, Emotional Gain, Price, Inconvenience, and Uncertainty.


There are two key messages in this list of factors. The first is that to win over Heidi you need to reconsider what you are offering her. This is no longer a goods-dominant era but a service-dominant era. If you have a shop that sells clothes or food or jewelry or surfboards, you aren’t just selling her a product. But also, hopefully, the happy experience that goes with finding and using and sharing your service. If you have a hotel then if you are really smart you aren’t just selling Heidi a room and a meal but a suitcase full of memories.


The second message is that when you look at that list of six factors, notice how many of them are directly related to an emotional input, and how all of them finish with an emotional response.


There is a third message I want to get through to you and that is that Customer Satisfaction is not the end result you are looking for because that is fleeting and soon gone. That which is satisfying today is old hat tomorrow, so if you stop at providing satisfaction only you are forever chasing your tail.  What you are truly seeking is Customer Engagement because that is what generates loyalty and positive referrals.


Purchasing Intent is Your First Goal


Some clever academics in Malaysia took the known wisdom on customer experience and extended it a little further. Using the wonders of scientific social research they examined what drove Heidi’s desire to purchase and found some very interesting results. They found that the strongest drivers of purchasing intent were:


  • The Sensory Experience:

This included (increasingly important) factors such as Feeling Worthwhile, Attractiveness, Arousing Sensation. Does your website or your premises provide an uplifting sensory experience?

  • The Emotional Experience:

Ranking upwards in importance again: Hopeful, Satisfied, Contented, Relaxed, Pleased and Happy. Satisfied is low on the pole and for Customer Engagement, you want a Happy Heidi.

  • The Social Experience:

Getting Recognized, Promoting Social Status, Positioning Social Status.

They found that in the customer experience, the sensory experience significantly affects the emotional experience, and the emotional experience significantly affects the social experience. All three are integrated into significantly affecting the purchasing intention.


What does all this mean in Simple language?


Buying things to possess – goods-dominant philosophy – provides only transitory happiness. What people treasure and remember are their experiences.  So romance the experience. Your staff training needs to take on a whole new approach towards service-dominant logic.


I watched an owner of a boutique hotel helping Heidi and her friends in getting about town. He didn’t just thrust a map at them but sat them down, carefully drew a map by hand and in the process told stories as he highlighted key sites to visit. So Heidi shared his experience and his wisdom and felt more special and valued. Senses, emotions and the social interaction were all at play. Heidi and friends were given an additional emotional benefit, the benefit of anticipation – all these things a map in a rack could never do. He made sure that Heidi knew on which days particular local ceremonies and dances were available and gave his opinion on which of the choices were his preference. He helped removed uncertainty.


Well-Trained Shop Attendant


I watched a well-trained shop attendant help Heidi relax and share a joke and turn the buying experience into fun. Heidi was impressed with her product knowledge and advice on suitable colors and accessories, but even more impressed with the way she was treated as someone very special and important; the shop attendant asked useful questions, listened intently and showed she understood Heidi’s needs. We had another occasion of a Happy Heidi.


I notice how her mood is affected by the lighting, the colors, the textures and the music around her, and how these can modify price considerations and help drive her emotional intent to extremes of either a shopping frenzy or a quick exit.


Organic Produce Markets


I watch Heidi go shopping at the organic produce markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and enjoy the social engagement that is only possible in these short-event happenings with like-minded people. I watch her face light up when she is joyously welcomed into her favorite restaurant by wait staff obviously happy to see her again. She spends more on these occasions.  I see how she prefers websites where she can view reviews by other people to help her form an intention to buy.


I’ve watched Heidi tolerate a lapse in service from a business where she has a good relationship. Nobody and no business is perfect, and your business needs to be really great most of the time so when you lapse and falter you can recover Heidi’s goodwill. You want to keep her as an advocate of your service-dominant business.  Your ability to quickly, enthusiastically resolve Heidi’s problems helps drive your sky-high levels of Customer Engagement.


While managing the Nissan Motor Parts Division in Australia, I would regularly spend lunchtimes taking over the customer service desk. I also hear firsthand the problems our customers were experiencing. On one occasion I had a distraught family almost in tears as their carefully budgeted traveling holiday away. That was about to be destroyed by a needed fuel pump that would take a week to be delivered from Japan. But tears turned to joy when I gave them my top of the line company car to use until the fuel pump was flown in. This turned a disaster into a family of advocates and the customer-centric approach. I wanted was easily demonstrated to my staff.


Make More Money with Happy Heidi


Remember the importance of loyalty; decreasing your customer defection rate by as little as 5% can double your profits. Why?


  • Loyal customers are repeat buyers.
  • They are more likely to buy more.
  • Become your advocates and reduce your advertising expense.
  • It is between four and nine times cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to gain a new one.


So smart business people around town treat Heidi like gold. It is so easy in a tourist town to keep processing people on the basis that they are only here for a week or so and are quickly replaced. But these people go back home with their memories. Share their experiences with others likely to visit Bali. They are still advocates or critics, they still share their stories on Trip Advisor and Facebook.


Survive and thrive in your business. Ensure you have a Happy Heidi as your service-dominant business goal.


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