Emotionally connecting with your customers

New research recently published in the Harvard Business Review suggests that creating an emotional connection with your customer is more important for customer retention than simply improving the customer’s overall satisfaction levels.

Although the improvement of customer satisfaction is critical for customer retention, it’s very hard and expensive to execute. But by setting ‘emotional connection’ as the main goal, companies can point their investments in the right direction, execute their strategy more effectively, and reap significant financial rewards.

The research took place across hundreds of brands and revealed that the most effective way to maximise customer value is to move beyond mere ‘customer satisfaction’ and connect with customers at an emotional level - tapping into their fundamental motivations and fulfilling the customer’s deep and often unspoken emotional desires. This means appealing to one of many ‘emotional motivators’ such as feeling a sense of belonging, to succeed in life, or to feel secure.

The research showed that ‘emotionally connected’ customers are more than twice as valuable as ‘highly satisfied’ customers. These emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more often, exhibit less price sensitivity, pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more often.

Companies deploying emotional-connection-based strategies to design, prioritise, and measure the customer experience, find that increasing customers’ emotional connection drives significant improvements in financial outcomes.

Although the overall customer experience is a critically important driver for customer retention, the research showed that customers who are more emotionally connected are consistently more profitable.

But unfortunately, customers often can't tell you what aspects of the customer experience resonate most powerfully with their emotional motivations. In fact, they often misreport the underlying importance of particular customer experience elements, leading companies to invest in the wrong things. To solve this issue, the researchers suggest using ‘big data’ analytical techniques to help to optimise the customer experience, and make investments that directly drive increased emotional connection and, therefore give greater customer value and financial returns.

The researchers give several practical examples within the Harvard article, such as a major apparel retailer who found that among their customers’ key emotional motivators were their desire to "feel a sense of belonging," a desire "to be thrilled by the shopping experience," and to have a "sense of freedom and independence."


Zorfas, A, and Leemon, D, ‘An Emotional Connection Matters More than Customer Satisfaction’, Harvard Business Review, August 2016.